By Kristen Briody, MS, PT, CPI
Myth #1: All Pilates is the same. Pilates purists maintain that only the original exercises developed by Joseph Pilates, performed in a specific order and with equipment made to Pilates’ original specifications, are real Pilates. This approach is often referred to as Classical Pilates. Contemporary Pilates has added new equipment and variations of exercises. If Pilates students cannot complete a particular exercise, it makes sense to incorporate modifications based on current knowledge and available equipment to help them improve their skills. It may not be exactly as Joseph Pilates invented, but it has helped achieve his vision of reaching many different types of people. As with any discipline, the key to deriving maximum benefit from Pilates is training with a qualified instructor.
Myth #2: Pilates is only for very fit people. While it’s true that the first groups to adopt Pilates were athletes and dancers, it isn’t true that high levels of fitness and flexibility are prerequisites. Pilates works well for beginners who want to build strength in their core muscles for improved posture, balance and flexibility. It can be adapted to address specific conditions, to train for specific sports and to suit each individual’s level of fitness. The advanced repertoire of exercises is appropriate for the very fit.
Myth #3: Pilates alone will help you lose weight. Pilates delivers key benefits but it does not burn calories like running or swimming or cycling and cannot be counted on for significant weight loss. Studies have shown that Pilates improves flexibility, strength, and range of motion and can be effectively incorporated into a weight loss program including nutrition and cardiovascular activity.
Myth #4: Pilates is just like yoga. Pilates and yoga share the goals of uniting the body and mind and of improving strength and flexibility but they have different approaches to breathing and movement and they use different exercises. Yoga originated as a spiritual practice, designed to move energy through the body and leave the student calm. Physically, yoga focuses on the spine and limbs while Pilates works the whole body but focuses on developing abdominal strength first. Yoga concentrates on staying connected to the breath while Pilates coordinates movement with the breath in order to build strength and flexibility throughout the body.
Myth #5: You need special equipment for Pilates. The equipment developed by Joseph Pilates is used in some Pilates programs but all the basic movement principles of Pilates can be incorporated into a mat workout. Joseph Pilates’ goal was for people to learn the exercises and practice several times a week in their homes to achieve the full benefits.
Kristen Briody, MS, PT, CPI, is a New York State-licensed physical therapist and a comprehensive Pilates instructor. Armonk Physical Therapy and Sports Training provides personalized, integrative, and skilled one-on-one physical therapy services. www.armonkptst.com