6 Tips to Improve Your At-Home Pilates Practice
Think you’re busy? Anastasiya Goers is a Pilates Instructor, web developer, and busy mom (with 2 sets of twins!), who still finds time for her own practice. So we had to ask, how the heck she does it?
Practicing Pilates at home seems so easy…..
You open your laptop (or turn on your tablet), find a workout that you want and start enjoying your session.
Let me stop you right here and ask you one question “What is the latest excuse/circumstance that kept you from starting or completing your at-home Pilates session?”
I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been personally struggling on getting all my sessions in lately because I’m in the process of moving (I don’t even mention the fact that I have two sets of twins under the age of 7.) Time crunch and constant distractions are definitely an issue for a lot of Pilates students.
Let me ask you another question: Do you ever feel that you get more out of a session at a studio than you do from your at-home practice?
In a studio you constantly have a pair of experienced eyes watching your every move, and a pair of skillful hands gently and supportively guiding your body into the right position to activate the deepest fibers of your muscles.
At home you have to rely on your own judgement, awareness and diligence to feel the Pilates benefits in your body.
However, a successful at-home Pilates practice can be as real as a jolt of energy after a cup of coffee in the morning.
OK, So here are some of my tips for a successful at-home Pilates practice:
1) Start with the basics no matter what your level is.
People who have been physically active for a long time are notorious for overestimating their fitness level and trying to perform advanced moves before they get the basics. The basics in Pilates are the foundation of the program. If you don’t get them right then the rest of a workout is just a haphazard activity that is not much different from a regular gym workout.
Pilates students who live and breathe Pilates know that going back to basics is always a rewarding experience that helps them secure yet another building block of the ultimate body, mind and spirit unity preached by Joseph Pilates.
Even when you feel that you are ready to up the challenge it is still important to make one of your weekly sessions at home a “Back to basics” session. It will help you stay connected to your body and build a solid foundation for a more advanced repertoire.
Check out the Pilatesology Learn the Basics program to get started and refine your practice.
“A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”
2) Explore the Pilates Principles.
Pilates benefits can be achieved only through the continuous practice of Pilates principles (centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, flow). These principles can be easily overlooked if you are exercising at home and are focused on getting through the workout fast instead of working with precision and control. Take the time to explore the Pilates principles and understand what they are. Once you are familiar with them you can start playing with them a little bit to have some Pilates fun. Try picking one principle for the theme of each workout:
- Build a workout that is focused on seamless transitions and ultimate flow.
- Change your breath pattern to challenge the exercises.
- Slow the pace of your workout to focus on precision and control.
- Keep your mind focused on the workout instead of mind chatter.
“Concentrate on the correct movement each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all the vital benefits of their value.”
3) Make Pilates Part of Your Day.
We do Pilates to gain complete control of our bodies for everyday activities. Performing these daily activities with the Pilates principles in mind is the best demonstration of the Method at work. Making Pilates part of your day is easier than it seems and requires no additional time:
- Use Pilates centering techniques in all daily activities.
- Practice the Pilates posture.
- Use Pilates breathing to release tension in your body during the day.
- Perform all daily activities with the muscular and mental control expected in a Pilates session.
“Through Contrology you first purposefully acquire complete control of your own body and then through proper repetition of its exercises you gradually and progressively acquire that natural rhythm and coordination associated with all your subconscious activities.”
4) Clear out All Distractions.
Mr. Pilates was right. If you want to see results then you need to do the Work, there is no sneaky way around it.
Set yourself up for success by being realistic about the time that you can devote to Pilates.
Set aside time in your schedule that is devoted to Pilates only, turning off your cell phone, finding a baby-sitter for your kids, tuning out any thoughts about work or house stuff, starting a Pilates challenge with a friend or colleague (there’s a 30-Day Mat Challenge on Pilatesology).
“Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.”
Imagine, you plan on having a Pilates session and you have done your best at clearing out all distractions. You are determined that a 60-minute Pilates session twice a week is what you need and is the only thing that will bring results. Of course, life happens and time after time your session is cut short due to unforeseen circumstances.
Modern research shows that every burst of brisk activity (like Pilates) brings positive results in terms of weight loss as well as major health benefits (The University of Utah research). We are more likely to commit to a 15-30 minute at-home Pilates workout on most days of the week than have a full hour-long session even twice a week.
“Man should bear in mind and ponder over the Greek admonition – Not Too Much, Not Too Little.”
5) Pause Your Workout to Master a New or Difficult Move
The beauty of an at-home Pilates practice is that you can go at your own pace. Even if you are using online streaming classes you can click “pause” or play a difficult part over and over again until you get what the instructor is talking about. Use this perk to your advantage to really “get” the method instead of muscling your way through it.
“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”
6 ) Get your Pilates Groove on
Pilates is an activity that can be truly enjoyed because it opens up the potential of your body and your mind. Make sure that a Pilates session is a fun time of the day for you. Put your best Pilates clothes on (even though you are working out at home you don’t have to wear sweatpants and a stretched-out T-shirt) or take fashion advice from Mr. PIlates himself:
“Unless you are really chilly, don’t exercise in sweatshirts or even in lighter clothing.”
(And we know Joe’s favorite outfit!)
Whatever helps you get your Plates groove on, do it and enjoy your session!
“Contrology develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.”
At-home Pilates sessions are a wonderful way to supplement your studio practice, stay on track when traveling, learn from other Pilates instructors and get all the benefits of the method without a hefty studio price tag. I hope that the tips above will help you deepen your practice and discover new ways to enjoy your sessions.
What is your at-home Pilates practice story? What helps you stay motivated and maintain a consistent practice? Please leave comments—we want to know!
Anastasiya Goers is following her passion for Pilates by running a community-based Pilates website – PilatesBridge.com that unites Pilates professionals and Pilates students. Her goal is to teach people to enjoy movement and feel comfortable in their bodies as well as to give the instructors all needed tools to grow their Pilates business and education.