Whether you’re already a Pilates junkie who wants to be able to work out at home without having to travel to a Pilates studio or gym, or you’re a busy parent that doesn’t have room for Pilates classes in their schedule, finding out the best way to incorporate Pilates into your routine at home can keep you fit as well as keeping your time free.
There are many benefits to doing your Pilates exercise at home. In addition to saving time, you’ll also save money on Pilates lessons, and if you’re someone who struggles to get going in the mornings, a quick Pilates routine in your lounge might just be the antidote.
When it comes to taking up any form of exercise or a new hobby, getting started can often be a tough and confusing time when everyone seems to want to overload you with advice. Bombarded with information from the personal experiences of others in your situation as well as the many rumours that circulate about various exercise techniques, just ‘having a go’ can feel daunting.
When starting a new sport, it’s important that you follow your own path. Listen to your body and try not to measure your own progress against anyone else’s but your own.
Before you start doing Pilates at home, you might want to consider going to a beginners Pilates class.
The benefit of being taught by a qualified Pilates instructor is that they can advise you on your technique and correct your method if need be. This will help you get used to what Pilates is supposed to feel like and give you more confidence when going it alone at home.
So, to learn more about the origins of the Pilates method, the wellness benefits of home workouts and how to prepare for an at-home Pilates session, as well as learning some basic Pilates exercises, read on!
History of the Pilates Method
What is Pilates? Contrary to what many people think, Pilates is not a style of yoga.
In fact, Pilates has its origins in the early 20th century, whereas yoga is known to be thousands of years old.
The practice of Pilates is named after its founder, Joseph Pilates. Joseph Pilates grew up in Germany studying martial arts and bodybuilding with the aim of making and keeping his full body strong and healthy. His motivation to get fit came from spending his childhood suffering from illnesses including asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, which left his body in a weak condition.
Through various methods, including gymnastics, boxing and diving, by his teenage year, Pilates had built a frame which was so toned and well-defined that he was being paid to model for anatomical drawings.
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His knowledge of the various total body workout techniques used across the world formed a basis for his own method, the method of Pilates that we know today, which he called ‘Contrology’.
When the First World War broke out, Pilates, who had been working in England as a circus performer, was interned in a British camp due to his German nationality. In the camp, he took on some responsibilities in the sickbay where he worked as a nurse. This was where he started to develop and refine the equipment that is used in Pilates today, such as the Pilates reformer and Cadillac, as he sought ways to help patients improve their strength and recover without further injury.
Joseph Pilates set up the first ever Pilates studio in New York City in 1926, and the rest is history!
Why Do Your Pilates Workout at Home?
There are many reasons why you might want to practice your Pilates routine at home. Maybe you already go to all of the classes available at your local leisure centre and you just can’t get enough of it, or perhaps you already have a good idea of the basics and want to save a bit of extra cash.
Whatever your motives for doing Pilates at home, there are many benefits to home workouts to be considered:
- Extra comfort: In your own house, there’s no need to put on your best activewear, do your make up, or brush your hair to look presentable. Enjoy a hassle-free Pilates session.
- Do it your way: Some people feel self-conscious taking part in large Pilates classes, especially men who may think it is a female form of fitness, so staying at home to do Pilates is a good option if you take comfort in the fact that no one is watching. Do your workout how you like it!
- Save money: Gym subscriptions and even costs for one-off classes can be costly, so doing Pilates at home can help you save for a rainy day.
- Save time: If your family or professional life is particularly demanding, you may not have the time to travel to and from a Pilates studio.
- A great start to the day: If you’re someone who needs to do a bit of moving around to get going in the mornings, Pilates is a great way to stretch your tired muscles and get energised.
How to Get Started with Pilates at Home
Doing your first Pilates workout at home can feel quite strange, especially if you’re used to the studio atmosphere.
But if you’re thinking about making at-home Pilates sessions part of your routine, what do you need to know?
Learning the Pilates Basics
To get started doing Pilates on your own in a way that you feel comfortable, you’ll need to get advice on the basics of Pilates at the very least so that you can get to know what is correct and the effects that Pilates should have on your body.
There are several places you can get advice, each with their own pros and cons:
- Pilates instructor: This is by far the best way to get professional advice before you start conducting Pilates workouts on your own. Take a course at a Pilates studio or leisure centre, try some of the movements at home and speak to your instructor about how you get on. This is also advisable if you are pregnant.
- Fitness websites: Less hands-on but much more accessible than in-person help, you can consult the internet for Pilates guidance. Websites such as Verywellfit feature entire Pilates workouts as well as advice on other aspects of fitness.
- DVD or YouTube: Fitness videos have been around for decades, and since they’re usually led by professionals, they’re often the next best thing to taking exercise classes. Why not buy yourself a Pilates DVD or search YouTube to find a Pilates video that suits you?
The beauty of Pilates is its adaptability.
Here are some items of Pilates equipment you may wish to use at home:
- Exercise mat: This is an essential item you probably already have. The purpose of a Pilates mat is to prevent you from slipping whilst supporting your weight on the ground. They also provide some cushioning when laid on a hard floor.
- Resistance bands: These are common on Pilates studios. Hook your resistance band around your feet or knees (depending on the exercise) and work against them to build strength. They can also help to build flexibility.
- Resistance ring: This is one piece of Pilates apparatus which is small enough to keep at home. Also known as the ‘magic circle’, the resistance ring is used to help people find their centre and provide resistance.
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Pilates for Beginners at Home
For those who are completely new to Pilates, it can be hard to know what to expect.
Here are three basic Pilates moves you’re likely to find in any Pilates routine:
- Rolling Like a Ball
This is a fun exercise which engages the abdominal muscles as well as offering a massage for your upper and lower back!
Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor in front on you. Next, lift your feet up off the floor, balancing on your seat bones, hook your hands around the backs of your knees and use your core to rock your whole body back and forth on the mat.
You may have seen this exercise being done in gyms before. It’s one of the more challenging exercises but works your entire powerhouse.
Laying down, lift your head and neck and put your hands behind your head. Then, lift both straight legs off the floor at a 45-degree angle. Next, bend one knee so that it comes towards you whilst bringing your head towards it at the same time. Repeat other side and repeat this simultaneous movement.
- The 100
This exercise is fundamental to Pilates, and it’s also one of the simplest moves. The 100 raises the heart rate, making it perfect for a warm-up.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and above your hips so that your calves form a right angle with your thighs. Engage your core and bring your head and shoulders off the ground. Next, hold your arms in a straight line with your hips with your palms facing down. Starting moving your hands up and down, inhaling for every five counts and exhaling for another five counts. The challenge is to hold this for 100 counts, but aim for a smaller number if you need to.
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