How Many Times a Week Should I Do Pilates?
“The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”
–Joseph H. Pilates
I often get asked by new clients how many times a week they should do Pilates. In order to see and feel results it’s best to do Pilates 2-3 times a week. Pilates is a form of exercise that has a steep learning curve at first. When a client first comes to a Pilates class they can be overwhelmed by all the verbal cues I am giving and many say that the component of breath during the exercise is hard to ‘nail down’ at first.
For most people new to Pilates it can easily take up to 5-10 sessions in order to just understand the basic verbal cues and concepts involved in the exercises. After those initial sessions, when the movements become more familiar, people can actually begin to concentrate on working deeper into their bodies. I often say Pilates is more like a “work-in’ than a ‘work-out.’ But don’t misinterpret that statement to mean you will not be getting one of the best full body workouts ever invented. If you are doing the exercises correctly, and I do my best to make sure that you are, than your body will be worked and stretched out as a whole. In Pilates we do limited repetition of each exercise. The goal is to be so focused on your body and muscles that you only need to do 5-10 reps of each exercise and then we move on to the next exercises. Joseph Pilates’ philosophy was that 3 perfectly executed moves were worth more than 15 sloppy ones. I have found this to be very true in my own body and in my clients bodies as well. This allows us to work more muscle groups within the hour and by the end of that hour all the muscle groups are engaged at one point or another so that the entire body is worked.
There are three basic, main components that clients will first be learning. These basic components are the basic choreography of the movements or simply stated leaning the overall pattern of movement, finding and engaging the right muscles used to do those movements, and
then there is the Pilates Breath. Each exercise has an inhale or exhale associated with the movement which help to engage the core muscles appropriately. The Breath is one of the last things that will probably connect with a client. Clients often say it is always the last thing that comes naturally to them. If you are new to class then just remember when all else fails….just breathe, and please never ever hold your breath during the movement. Remember Pilates is like any learned behavior. The more you practice it and the longer you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
Remember that these are just the broad strokes of Pilates, and as they say the devil is in the details, and in Pilates the true transformative quality of movement is in taking the work deeper into your core and changing your habitual patterns of movement and, believe me, that takes a tremendous amount of time, consistency, and commitment. Be patient with your self and allow yourself time to feel the exercise. Over time the work becomes deeper and more profound. That is when we can really begin the deep internal work of Pilates. Many of my clients find that Pilates becomes a way of life and it’s not just a workout fad. It starts to inform their movements through out their day, whether they are driving in their cars, cooking dinner for their families or playing their favorite sports. Pilates requires full concentration in-order to do it effectively. One’s focused concentration on the exercises helps to quiet one’s busy mind. It is a time where you are given the space and instruction to completely focus on and enhance your body-mind connection.
I know budget is always a factor, especially in these tough economic times, but whenever possible clients should try a private Pilates session. Privates, although costly, can benefit individuals that are struggling in certain areas and would like a deeper insight into certain exercises or their own habitual patterns of movement. The occasional private can provide great insight that might not otherwise occur in a group class.