Starting your Pilates journey can feel quite daunting at first, especially for a complete beginner. As with any other physical activity, there are certain considerations a student should take to maximize the efficiency of the workout and to avoid injury.
Julie Gagnon-Erickson is a fitness instructor and the Founder of Endurance Pilates and Yoga in Boston. With over 30 fitness certifications, she knows what it takes for a practitioner to begin a new fitness endeavor. Below, Julie shares her top tips for beginners wanting to make the most of their new Pilates experience.
Find a Great Instructor
Pilates is very specific and technical, especially if you want to avoid injury and get the most out of your workout. It can be tempting to learn from online photos and videos as they are easy to find and always available. However, in order to obtain the most benefits from this highly specific regimen, it is important to learn Pilates properly which is why it is highly recommended that you find a certified and highly qualified instructor, such as Julie Gagnon-Erickson. While videos give you easy access to information, they cannot correct bad form or address questions. It is especially important to seek the help of professional instructors if you have an injury that needs particular attention. Instructors will understand how to adapt workouts to your injury and can tailor the workout to focus on your particular needs.
Start with the Basics
To begin, Julie Gagnon-Erickson suggests finding an instructor who teaches the traditional Pilates method of Classical Authentic Pilates developed by Joseph Pilate himself. Everyone has heard the saying “Don’t run before you can walk” and the same rings true for Pilates. Before testing the limits with trendy Pilates-based workouts such as Piloxing, Pop Pilates, and Piyo, you should master the concepts of the Pilates method that Joseph Pilates entrusted to the disciples of his method. You’ll get the best benefits from Pilates by sticking to traditional techniques that have been tried and tested for decades. Mastering the Pilates basics is also essential before delving into some of the more intricate techniques in the Pilates Method. A good instructor will have you sweating and begging for mercy within the first ten seconds of your Basic Class- in a good way!
Incorporate Pilates Into Your Routine
True benefits come from Pilates only with consistency. It is important to make space for Pilates in your routine by incorporating it to your schedule several times a week.
Forming a new habit takes time, so you must stick with it if you are hoping to make Pilates a permanent part of your exercise routine. If you do not make it an important part of your routine, it will be easy to set it aside when something else comes up. Write your Pilates appointments and classes into your schedule just like you do work meetings and hair appointments!
Julie Gagnon-Erickson warns beginners against going all out when starting Pilates as this could result in a loss of effectiveness and even injury. Most of all, be forgiving to yourself. While Pilates may look easy from an outsider’s perspective, it is much more difficult than it looks. Accept that you will face challenges on your journey and learn from them. By starting out slow, you’ll learn and improve as you go. There is no race to the Intermediate Class and a good Pilates teacher will be able to challenge a Basics class that includes both newbies and seasoned practitioners!
Remember to Hydrate
Although Pilates is a low-impact exercise, it is by no means easy. Like all physical activity, it requires you to stay hydrated to keep your body functioning properly and your joints well lubricated. Lack of water intake can result in muscle cramps, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Water consumption supplies a host of health benefits and is an important part of every workout.
Focus on Your Breathing
Pilates is not just a physical workout — it has many benefits on your mental health as well. However, it requires a complete focus during practice. This means not only concentrating on every aspect of your body but on your mind as well. Julie Gagnon-Erickson states that a good instructor will guide your concentration, breathing and focus during class. Listen to the breathing cues and don’t discount the importance of any aspects of Pilates.
Pilates has been practiced for decades and for good reason. When beginning your Pilates journey, it is important to seek professional guidance from certified fitness instructors such as Boston’s own Julie Gagnon-Erickson.
For more information on Julie Gagnon-Erickson: https://twitter.com/jg_erickson