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Taking the Exercise Out of Pilates??

By December 17, 2012

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In last weeks newsletter I invited readers to join our ongoing conversation, What Drives You Crazy at the Pilates Studio?.  There are many great posts and I hope you will read them, but a particular new one caught my attention. OnTheReformer writes:

Taking the Exercise Out of Pilates! Some instructors treat Pilates like movement education rather than exercise. I like that Pilates incorporates both, but I'm there to exercise! If I don't sweat, it's not a good class.

I think this reader brought up an important point. Alignment and our Pilates principles such as precision, control, and breathing fully are essential to Pilates practice. And many of us are intrigued by the inner body/mind exploration that Pilates makes available. But at what point do they become a distraction from actually getting the fitness part to happen?

One of my teachers is Rachel Segel of The Pilates Center of Boulder. I always remember something she said in my interview with her, The Art of Teaching Pilates.  I it relates well to this issue:

Don't think so much. Trust. Move at the tempo the exercise are supposed to be at and don't stop between them. Keep moving and your body intelligence will take over. If it's a little sloppy, OK. As long as it's safe, that's the bottom line. If you're a little sloppy that's better than not doing it. We often say in our teaching, "Pilates is about heat. It's not intelligence only."

I can tell you there is plenty full-on exercise in Rachel's class, but also a lot of technique communicated. It takes a good amount of skill on a teachers part to balance the technique and the energy of a class. I wonder what your experience is. Are your classes getting hung up movement education? If you don't sweat is it still a good class?

Please comment below.

December 18, 2012 at 9:15 am
(1) ImIntoPilates says:

There have been times when I was in a class where the only sweat I broke was from mental concentration. There is a place for that but not too much because let’s face it, Pilates needs to be fitness.

December 19, 2012 at 6:07 pm
(2) Angela says:

I don’t think one has to sweat to gain strength and fitness. If you really want to sweat go running. I’ve had plenty of hard Pilates sessions where I was sore the next day with no sweating. i always thought Pilate was only part of the fitness routine not the totality of it. I never expect Pilates to replace aerobics.

December 20, 2012 at 11:13 am
(3) Soozq says:

Such an interesting point. As an instructor I get hung up on this all the time! .I teach cardio fitness and pilates, is one of my disciplines. I prefer to stick with the flow and rhythm of the exercises at a good pace to for a good sweat. I also teach a senior class which for them has to be slowed down but is still challenging. In my private sessions I bounce back and forth. I am always struggling with what is too much or too little. I want to educate the body by breaking down exercises to a miniscule level, but also want to move! I love that she says sloppy is ok, I remember when I was sloppy! Nice to have this conversation.

December 25, 2012 at 5:37 pm
(4) Tahlei says:

I love the precision and control of Pilates, which doesn’t allow for much sweating. Until the client has progressed to such a level that their technique is good enough to increase the pace of the class, my clients don’t generally get too sweaty. That’s not to say that they don’t get a good workout – I agree with Angela above. I always focus on technique first, pace second.

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