What is Pilates?

When your best friend is constantly talking about her Pilates classes…and you finally say “what is Pilates”?  I guarantee they will struggle to answer.  Ask any Pilates teacher “what is Pilates”?  I promise you they will have a lot to say…but you will more than likely still not really know. 

Why is that?  Even the most active, most fit, and most athletic person will tell you, Pilates is not like anything else! Whether you prefer Spinning, yoga, boxing, weight lifting, crossfit, running, or anything else to stay fit…a one-hour Pilates session can be a humbling experience.  Why is that?


Pilates is a system of exercises that require you to use every part of your body to either stabilize, mobilize, or both with precision and control while continuously moving.  In other words…there’s a lot going on!  It’s a workout that requires skill (similar to a sport) in that there are foundation exercises to be learned and fundamentals to understand before moving on from a “beginner” level.  Pilates is a movement experience.  There is flow, rhythm, and tempo for every exercise.  There is a way to mount, set-up, execute, transition, and dismount.  Sounds like something from Cirque Du Soleil right?  Well…once you get proficient…it actually is a bit like that.  It’s quite impressive and beautiful.


During the process of learning, the faces, the noises, the cries of pain aren’t so pretty, because Pilates is no joke!  It’s hard!  The fact that it’s hard, is turn on for some people and for others, this is why they stay away (thinking they can’t do it).  Boy oh boy…these people are really missing out!  So many people seek Pilates when their doctors tell them they need to strengthen their core to eliminate their back pain.  I have a dirty little secret about the definition of “core” in Pilates.  Your core is made up of your abs, your inner thighs, and your glutes (yes…your ass), but more specifically, your transverse abdominus…the deepest of your abdominal muscles supporting your spine.  This is not your “six pack”.  They are way more Badass than that!  Don’t get me wrong…I love a great six-pack, but knowing I have a strong “core” to protect me, and keep me from being in pain, or getting injured really gets me jazzed!


Pilates has been around for a long time now, yet so many people still don’t know how to pronounce it, describe it, define it, or run to it as their first choice of exercise.  Nothing makes me happier than when I work with a person for the first time…and I watch them “fall in love”.  It truly is a love affair for so many people.  They say, “where have you been all my life” or “I wish I had know about this years ago”.  Even someone who truly dislikes exercise finds Pilates as their “new found love”.  But didn’t I say Pilates was hard?  Why would someone who hates to exercise want to do something hard?  Because it’s a different kind of hard!  It’s a “sneaky” hard.  For a Pilates teacher, we find great enjoyment in setting a client up for an exercise and they say “ok, this is good, I can do this”…but yet, we didn’t even start the exercise yet, we just set you up!  LOL!  The wide eyes…the big smiles…the look of “save me”…or “you can’t be serious”!  It’s the greatest joy of teaching!  How you feel after a session is also very sneaky.  You are definitely sore, but in places you’ve never felt before.  You’re sore, but not the kind of sore like you got “hit by a train”.  Fuck that!  That’s so done!  It’s a sore knowing you worked hard, hit every muscle from head to toe, built some strength, and stretched a lot feeling like you might have actually gotten taller!  And one of the best parts about Pilates, is that it feels like this every…single…time!  We have a saying in the Pilates world…”if it’s easy, it’s not Pilates”.  How could you not want to come back and do it again???