Pilates 101

Fitness and exercise fads come and go but one that’s continued to remain popular in the US and beyond is Pilates (pronounced puh-laa-teez), with more than 11 million people practicing the discipline around the world.


Its appeal is in part due to the fact it’s truly for everyone, no matter your age or fitness level. Evidence also suggests Pilates can help reduce pain, and improve movement, posture, and flexibility. In fact, a 2015 clinical trial showed that 55 minutes of Pilates exercise twice a week significantly reduced chronic low back pain.


Originally called Contrology, Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century as a way to strengthen the mind and body by targeting your core muscles. Its principles focus on concentration, control, centering, flow, precision, and breathing. It’s a highly focused full-body workout that’s often compared to yoga — both disciplines focus on the mind and body and similar poses, however where yoga emphasizes flexibility, Pilates centers primarily on core strength. And conveniently, it requires no special equipment, just a mat and you.


Joe Pilates’ original regimen included 34 mat exercises that are still practices today. Some of the most popular and effective moves include:


Leg circles — lying faceup, bending one knee and extending the opposite leg and making circles with it.

The 100 — lying faceup, lifting both legs halfway and pumping your arms up and down beside you.

Single leg stretches — lying faceup and extending alternate legs out, one at a time.

Double leg stretches — lying faceup, bringing both knees toward your chest and extending them out in front of you.


You can see how these exercises are done here. And you can watch the basics of Pilates here, here and here.


If you’re elderly or infirm, you can find exercises appropriate for you here and here.


Have you tried Pilates before or are you looking for an exercise activity that doesn’t require too much time or investment? Please share your thoughts and experiences with the Shop Talk community.

Did you know? Pilates burns calories all day long


Cardio on a bike or treadmill stops burning calories when you stop but Pilates creates lean muscle that helps you burn calories long after you’ve put away your mat. (Source)