View Full Version : PIlates - Start session working at top capacity?

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:07 PM
Pilates people: Is this true? This Pilates person (student, not teacher) claims she is started up in each session by her teacher using the straps and is urged to go as fast as she can move herself. She does this for about 5 min., and then moves on to another movement. Sorry if I'm using wrong terminology. It's not the mat part of Pilates, altho she may move on to mats as part of the session.

I was taken aback that any sort of exercise session would start off so intensively/intensely. It seems like there is no gradual warm-up.

Can also say with this person that I don't see any real improvment in her fitness or comfort level (has arthritis) in the years I've known her. She has done Pilates throughout this time.

Did I hear her wrong?

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:11 PM
might just be her instructor. When I did pilates with an instructor (and all the machines) we most definitely did NOT start with super fast moves. We would do some rolling/stretching, then some core work, then onto the machines.

Once you know the moves and proper form you are encouraged to go faster, but its never super fast or highly intense.

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:18 PM
Our class starts by doing the "hundreds" and then goes from there. We are encouraged to do the exercises correctly rather than speed and reps. The class is offered at the community center and the participants constantly changed except for a few of us diehards.

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:23 PM
I've done Pilates for years. The basic beginning of the routine either on the mat or the reformer (that's the one with the straps, although there are other apparatus with straps) often includes, for example, an exercise where you are pumping your arms while curled up off the mat (hard to explain; it's called the 100 because you do 100 pumps). These are usually pretty brisk and vigorous -- it is part of your warmup.
Other early exercises might include the rollup, which is sort of what it sounds like, lying flat on the mat and rolling up and over your midsection until you are shaped more like a C. You would do this as smoothly as you can maintain proper form and control, but I wouldn't call it "as fast as possible."
On the reformer you usually start with "footwork" before you do your 100s -- with this you have your feet on the bar at the end of the reformer and are moving the reformer itself out and back with your abs (and your legs, although they shouldn't do all the work). Again it should move right along but it is not a "speed" exercise.

Some exercises are meant to be done at some speed and others are not. Certainly as you get more experienced you can and will probably be gently pushed to speed up your tempo as it is a better workout that way, but only to the extent that you can keep your form and your muscles working correctly.

There are an enormous number of exercises and a sequencing of them that should be followed -- any given workout probably includes some of the basic ones but might include a different subset of the more advanced ones (although I think some studios are fairly strict about what each workout includes -- when we do it we do pick and choose a bit depending on what's going on with students that day ...if someone is injured, stiff, etc we adjust around it), but none of them you do for "5 minutes" and then move on. They are done for a series of repetitions, could be 3 or 5 or 10, specific to that exercise.

It's not like "run in place for 5 minutes" and then "jumping jacks for 5" -- very different.

I will say that I have encountered Pilates instruction that is barely recognizable as such. Done correctly by properly trained instructors it should have a tremendous effect on your core strength, your flexibility if limited (like mine -- huge difference!), and your alignment and body awareness.

Well-trained instructors should absolutely know how to work with someone who has physical issues -- this was how the entire thing got started, after all, by rehabbing injured patients!

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:33 PM
Well, it was a discussion about starting up a stiff, old body (horse or human) and this woman was adamant that she did not start 'gently' in Pilates, but it was a vigorous start. Doing what for how long, I can't give you those details 'cause I'm too ignorant...!

My point is that I was taken aback that someone would start ANY exercise session 'vigorously.' And especially hearing it from a woman who is older and suffers a lot from arthritis. It sounded just too harsh.

I would think that one would challenge, then back off, then challenge again, etc., gently pushing into the resistances of the body, but not doing so 'vigorously.'

Jun. 6, 2011, 04:38 PM
I guess I would say it is more vigorous than some classes I have seen in that regard but you are not stressing your body, exactly, in those early exercises.

I have found myself doing the 100s and the rollup when I am traveling and sleep in an icky bed -- I wake up feeling 85 years old and those exercises help me feel more limber and normal in a few minutes.

In our studio there are several folks clearly of limited mobility or much older and they seem to do fine -- I think it is probably about the quality of the instruction.