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Pilates Info for Beginners

A Guide to Pilates Information and Movement for the Beginner


Updated June 06, 2014

Gymnastics Pilates.
Skynesher/Vetta/Getty Images

Ready to learn Pilates? This page highlights the basic information and movement principles that a Pilates beginner will want to become familiar with. By the time you finish reading this article, and exploring some of its links, you will have a sense of what Pilates is, and a good idea about how to begin. Then, you'll be ready to move on to beginner exercises.

What is Pilates?

You may have heard a lot about Pilates. It is one of the fastest growing trends in fitness. You may even have come to the conclusion that you should do Pilates. But before you jump into Pilates exercises, you might want to take a moment to gain a little insight into what Pilates is (and isn't), and what makes it unique.

Pilates Instruction

The first decision you will want to make about your Pilates training is how you are going to learn Pilates. Will you begin with a private lesson, a group class, or go it alone?

I always recommend taking a class or some individual sessions first; but if you can't do that, there are many instructional DVDs and books to choose from, as well as a great library of articles and exercise instructions here at pilates.about.com.

Pilates Exercise Fundamentals

Now that you have some background information, it's time to think about moving on to beginner Pilates exercises. But before you do, listed below are are a few basics about the Pilates approach to movement that will help you get the most out of Pilates exercises.
  1. Pilates Principles

    Centering, Concentration, Control, Precision, Breath and Flow These terms refer to the basic principles we apply to Pilates movement. Pilates exercises are done as whole body/mind events. Working with the Pilates Principles helps us bring our full attention to the moves that we do. This attention accelerates their effectiveness, and enables the body to learn more from each exercise than it would if the exercise were done mindlessly.
    Suggested Reading:
    The Six Pilates Principles.

  2. Basic Pilates Moves

    There are a few basics related to how you use your abdominal muscles, how to position the pelvis and spine, and how to increase your range of motion that are used repeatedly in Pilates exercises. If you understand what you are going for with these moves, you will have a solid foundation for getting maximum benefit from your Pilates workout.

  3. Adjust Pilates for You

    Pilates really is a beginner friendly fitness system. Indeed, the adaptability of Pilates exercises for different body types and fitness levels is one of its primary benefits. Virtually all Pilates exercises can be modified to meet differing needs. A good instructor, in person, as an author, or on video will give you ideas for making modifications to the exercises they teach.
    Pilates Exercise Modification and Safety Tips

Next Action Steps

O.K. You've got some understanding, now you want to lock in your Pilates training! Here are two articles that will guide you through:
Pilates Beginner Quick Start Program
5 Next Steps for Pilates Beginners

More Pilates Resources

I hope you will take advantage of the articles and free exercises offered here at Pilates.about.com. Many readers sign up for the Free Pilates Newsletter. The Newsletter is published once a week and contains lots of Pilates information, links to free exercise instruction, and various interesting tips and tidbits. Also, the Pilates Community Forum is a great place to bring your questions and insights about Pilates.

Finally, let me say that you do not have to know everything to begin. This whole list is just a way of introducing you to the highlights of the Pilates method that you will become familiar with as you progress. The important thing is to Get Started!

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