Thinking of Taking Up Pilates? An Expert Told Us What Results You Can Expect
Ask anyone who is a Pilates devotee about their practice and they’ll tell you just how much they love it. Not only does Pilates help to improve your posture but it’s also great for your core and body alignment. In fact, a study from 2016 found that completing eight weeks of Pilates had beneficial effects on static balance, flexibility and abdominal muscle endurance.
Much like yoga, Pilates also encourages you to work on your mind as well as your body, with the exercises timed in conjunction with your breath. This allows you to be extremely present during workouts — something that isn’t always possible with other forms of exercise. In order to understand the ins and outs of Pilates a little more, we turned to Chloe de Winter, founder of on-demand Pilates platform, Go Chlo Pilates, to get the scoop on the benefits of Pilates, the difference between mat and reformer as well as the optimal number of sessions to complete per week.
What are some of the benefits of practising Pilates?
“Pilates is truly a mind and body practice,” Chloe de Winter told POPSUGAR AUSTRALIA. “Pilates teaches you how to move your body better. That means, your posture feels better, your stance more confident, your running technique more powerful, and your body stronger.
“Internally, Pilates can become a form of moving meditation. You connect movement with the breath, you find yourself being present on your mat and you are then able to focus on the present moment and how your body feels. That means, no mental to-do lists, no ‘What am I going to have for dinner’ and instead, it’s ‘Wow, my ass is on fire right now!’”
How often should you be doing Pilates per week to see consistent results?
“If you are just getting started, then you need to commit to it at least twice a week, but you really need to figure out what that magic number is for you,” de Winter said. “For me, five days a week is what it takes to maximise the benefits of Pilates in my body and mind. For you, it might be twice and that’s ok too!”
How long, on average, does it take to start seeing results from Pilates?
“Joseph Pilates (the creator of Pilates) famously said, ‘In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 sessions you will see the difference. And in 30 sessions you will have a whole new body’.
Joseph may have been onto something in the 1930s, but being in the 21st century, we have come a long way in our understanding of movement! After two sessions, you will already start seeing results, especially in your posture and the way you move your body. It’s powerful and once you experience that shift, you won’t look back.”
Is there a difference in results between reformer and mat Pilates? Do you have a preference?
“Reformer and Mat Pilates address the same goals and can be equally as impactful on your body and mind. While Mat Pilates utilises the body as resistance, Reformer Pilates uses the springs to create resistance and also support.
“During 2020, I developed a new appreciation for the power of Mat Pilates. It’s incredible how such subtle movements can create such a difference to the way an exercise feels. The load you can create with the angles of your body on a mat are endless. Plus, all you need is a floor and a mat, so you can move anywhere, anytime.
“Having watched the Go Chlo Pilates community develop over the course of the year, seeing people move from in their living room, their backyards, (often with their dogs hogging the mat), has been so powerful. This shift to online has really made Mat Pilates accessible to everyone.
So yeah, I’m #TeamMat.”
What equipment do you need to practise Mat Pilates?
“The beauty of Mat Pilates is that you don’t actually ‘need’ any equipment! If you have a mat, that’s great but if not, you can roll out a towel,” said de Winter. “I am sure that’s why Go Chlo Pilates and the online Pilates movement has been so successful, it’s just so easy to get started.”
How important is it to incorporate stretching alongside Pilates workouts?
“Stretches are part of all my classes as it’s so important to stretch and lengthen a muscle after you work it to maximise muscle recovery. It’s so important that I teach a dedicated Stretch class every week on top of that. Stretching is a practice we should all incorporate into our weekly routines. Desk workers, I’m looking at you!”
What are some common mistakes people need to watch out for in Pilates?
“Listen to your body! The biggest mistake people make in Pilates is not listening to their bodies and trusting their intuition,” said de Winter. “Not every exercise is good for every body and there should be no shame in modifying a squat, lunge, plank or push up. In fact, you should be proud that you have the awareness and confidence to know when to adjust.
“Now that I have that out of the way, when you do planks (on toes or knees), make sure your hips lift up in line with your spine and don’t let that low back sag down. Ok, now you’re good to go!”