I remember the first time I showed up to a Pilates class. It was in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I had zero clue what Pilates even was at the time, but I’d decided to try it out through ClassPass. When I hiked up the four floors of stairs to the petite air-conditioned studio, I was shocked and confused to be met with a room full of strange-looking contraptions. So confused that I actually checked the app to see if I had the wrong address. I didn’t.
I was looking at Pilates reformers–machines that allow you to perform Pilates exercises in ways that distribute your body weight differently than when you’re just lying on the floor. I shyly took a seat on a machine, and ended up enjoying the class.
If you’ve ever been in the position of muttering, What is going on? when it comes to Pilates, you’re not alone. The practice has quite a few aspects that can seem inaccessible, whether it’s the cost of classes or the complexity of the moves.
But if Pilates has always intrigued you nonetheless, the most recent episode of Good Moves, with East River Pilates instructor Brian Spencer and Go Chlo Pilates instructor Chloe De Winter, is ready to lay down some groundwork to help you feel more comfortable trying it out. This beginner-friendly guided Pilates routine is perfect for existing Pilates fans looking to revisit the basics, newcomers with an interest in what the fitness modality is all about, or anyone who falls in between. Without the use of any equipment, this 19-minute foundational routine can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Why try Pilates?
According to these seasoned instructors, some of the many benefits of this low-impact activity include increased muscle strength, improved balance and strength on both sides of your body, and better posture. Some Pilates regulars also notice reduced instances of pain and more energy, though neither is guaranteed.
Learn the Pilates foundations
This particular class begins with a tutorial on breathwork, which is a hugely important principle of Pilates, Spencer explains. This is because, as you practice each of the movements, you’ll want to be getting the right amount of oxygen and mindful benefits of deep-breathing, from decreasing stress and releasing muscle tension to connecting to your diaphragm.
Then the instructors take you through a series of Pilates basics like forward curls, tabletop curls, hip bridges, and cat-cow.
Forward curls target your lower abdominal muscles by utilizing that muscle group in order to lift your chest and upper body up and down while lying on your back. Tabletop curls are similar; however, the intensity increases because your legs are lifted at a 90-degree angle. Hip bridges target your glutes, with your feet planted in the ground, bringing your pelvis up toward the ceiling and back down. Meanwhile, the cat-cow targets your spine and back muscles, arching your back towards the ceiling then dipping your stomach towards the mat.
What you’ll need
Although no equipment is necessary, feel free to grab a comfortable yoga mat, your favorite workout clothes, and a water bottle for this fun, informative routine. The best part? Most of the stretches and exercises included in this Pilates foundations episode are done on your back or hands and knees, so you can get your workout in without even getting up from the floor.
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