What To Expect From A Pilates Private Session

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Perhaps part of your fitness goals has been to try Pilates? Maybe you have always wanted to try a Pilates equipment class/session. However, you are a little timid and maybe even scared of taking that first step. You have no idea what to expect and you are a little unsure of what this Reformer thing is that looks like a medieval torture device.

WHAT IS THE PILATES REFORMER?

The Reformer is the most recognized and popular piece of equipment or apparatus in the Pilates studio. This is the central piece of equipment used in most Pilates classes and studios. The Universal Reformer, so called because it is used for “universally reforming the body”, creates a balanced workout that is great for everyone regardless of fitness level. Auxiliary equipment you might find in the studio include the Chair, Cadillac or Tower; these pieces are often used at the end of a Pilates session to focus on the personal needs of the individual.

Invented by Joseph Pilates himself, the Reformer is a bed like piece of equipment with a moving carriage. The carriage is attached to springs that give resistance to the exercises performed on the Reformer. The Reformer has straps that both the hands and feet can be placed in for various exercises. Exercises on the Reformer are done laying down, sitting and even standing.

The Reformer offers all of the Pilates benefits including: overall strength, flexibility, coordination and balance.

WHAT TO WEAR OR BRING TO YOUR FIRST PILATES CLASS?

For your comfort and ease of performing the exercises it is best to wear clothes that are more form fitting. Yoga pants or leggings and a tank top are perfect as they allow the instructor to to see how your body moves so they can check alignment and offer adjustments as needed. Avoid clothes that have zippers, toggles, etc. and leave your jewelry at home. These things have been known to cause tears or holes in the upholstery of the equipment.

Exercises on the Pilates Equipment are done in bare feet or with socks that have grippy textures on the bottom. So you can leave those fancy gym shoes at home. Contrary to popular belief that Pilates is just stretching, you will sweat in your Pilates workout. Bring a towel to wipe any sweat as well as a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated during your workout. Some studios will provide these items, but most often studios do not, so it’s best to be prepared and bring your own.

ARRIVE EARLY TO YOUR FIRST PILATES SESSION

I suggest arriving early to your first session. The studio may have paperwork or intake forms for you to fill out prior to your session. A good Pilates teacher will meet with you prior to your session to learn about your body, ask if you have any challenges or injuries so that they can adjust the class to your needs. The teacher may also introduce you to the equipment which includes safety information, the parts of each piece and how to use the apparatus. It’s important that before you begin working out on the equipment that you understand each part.

The right Pilates teacher will find out your goals, take into consideration your imbalances or injuries and create a plan to help you achieve your goals. Whether you are there to rehab from an injury or surgery, or simply to gain more strength and become more fit, the teacher should create a plan to achieve this, and work to find the right exercises and equipment to get you to that point.

While I strongly believe that Pilates is for everybody regardless of age, body type, fitness level, injuries or medical conditions there are some exercises that may need to be omitted or modified based on your individual needs. Finding out any physical limitations prior to the class/session will help your teacher to give you the best workout out for you and keep you safe.

WHAT IS A TYPICAL PILATES EQUIPMENT CLASS LIKE?

Once you have met your teacher and have been introduced to the equipment it is time to get started. Typical Pilates sessions are 55 minutes in length. The work on the apparatus focuses on a full body workout with small and controlled movements using the springs for resistance. Just like a Pilates workout on the mat, focus is put on building core strength, but now we work against the springs to focus on control and centering.

Your session on the Reformer will be a full body workout. Classes typically start off with a warm up while lying down. As the class progresses you will focus on specific muscle groups through exercises that have you lying down, sitting, standing and even being in an inverted position.

Pay attention to the instruction and cues of your instructor. Their cues are important to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly, that your form is good and safe, and will help to make sure you are targeting the right muscles you should be using. Expect a lot of hands on instruction in your session. Most teachers like to help adjust the body so you can reap the full benefits of the exercises on the equipment as well as focus on proper body alignment.

While Pilates is low impact and safe on the joints, you will still find it a challenging workout. Sometimes the smallest of moves can be the hardest. Also, as previously mentioned, you will sweat. You might not sweat like you would in a boot camp or HIIT type of class, but you should find Pilates a challenging workout that still makes you sweat.

FINAL WORDS AND TIPS

After your first session you may find yourself a little sore. That is to be expected, but you may also find yourself feeling more flexible and walking a little taller with better posture.

During your session if you have any concerns or questions please speak up and let your teacher know.  This allows the teacher to teach in the moment, and helps the student to fully comprehend the exercise and what they are being asked to do.

Hopefully, you now feel more prepared to take on your first Pilates class.

Pilates VS. Yoga! Which is Right for You?

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When I meet people and tell them I teach Yoga and Pilates, the number one question I get is always “Isn’t Pilates just stretching like Yoga?” That would be a big “NO!” If you have ever taken both a Yoga and Pilates mat class you might notice some similarities. In fact Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates, was inspired by Yoga and practiced Yoga himself.

But the two are very different in many ways. It really is like apple to oranges.

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The Origin –

Yoga is thousands of years old and was created in India. Yoga was initially created as a spiritual practice, it’s only now in the modern, Western world that is become more about the physical fitness practice of yoga; with the focus being more on the postures and the physical practice.

Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century as a form of strengthening and rehabilitation. It is first and foremost a physical fitness practice. Pilates focuses on a practice that brings together the mind and the body. Yoga adds in the element of spirituality and  focuses on unifying the body, mind and spirit.

The Benefits –

Both practices offer many great benefits including strength, flexibility, stress relief and awareness of the body and breath. Pilates focuses more on building strength, particularly in the core area.

Yoga benefits include relaxation, focus on breathing, and the addition of meditation.

Pilates benefits also include the guiding Principles: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath, and flow. Pilates also puts a great focus on building better posture and muscular balance.

A Typical Class –

This is really where the two begin to differ. Yoga now has many different styles, so how the class is structured is based on the style of the teacher. Classes will focus on a flowing series of yoga poses, sometimes the poses may be held for a few breaths. Often the moment is coordinated with the breath, particularly in the Vinyasa style of Yoga.

Most classes will begin with some mediation and maybe even chanting. Pretty much every Yoga class will end in Savasana, a final resting pose. Yoga combines standing postures, seated postures, supine and prone postures.

In Pilates you can take mat or equipment classes. Mat Pilates classes most often feature the traditional order of exercises that Joseph Pilates created. When taking a Mat class with a traditional teacher, you can expect the same order of exercises and a structured class. This helps the student to learn the order and focus on working on proper alignment and progressing the exercises. The focus of the class is a great all over body workout, but mainly the work is on building a stronger core or Powerhouse.

In a Pilates class you will move the whole time. The Pilates exercises are not static, meaning you don’t hold poses like you would in Yoga. You are meant to keep the body moving both during the exercises as well as from one exercise to the next. Most of the Pilates exercises are done on a mat, in a supine (on the back) position.

So Which One is Right For You?

So which one is right for you? It really depends on your goal for starting your practice. As you can see there are some overlapping qualities of both. Give both a try and see which one you connect with the most. I highly recommend a practice that includes both and no I’m not talking about Yogalates or PiYo (which are neither Yoga or Pilates), but add both to your fitness routine. I recommend to my students 1 – 2 classes a week of both.

Some people will connect with one over the other. Maybe you want a kick ass workout that focuses on strength. Then Pilates might be for you. Maybe you need a calming class with time to just sit and silence and learn to breath again. Then Yoga is for you. Give each a try and see which one you resonate with the most. Yoga isn’t for everyone and Pilates isn’t for everyone. You’ll only know once you’ve tried both.

As one of my friends said “I’m more interested in learning Pilates, because Yoga doesn’t appeal to me. I have no desire to stand around like a tree” Personally, I love standing around like a tree.

Namaste!

Eating Around the World – Tiffins at Animal Kingdom

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Now that we live in Orlando, we have made it a goal to dine at every restaurant on Walt Disney World property, including restaurants, counter service and more. This includes all the dining options at the parks, resorts and even Disney Springs.

We have started a YouTube video series called “Eating Around the World” where we share our experiences, thoughts and opinions on these restaurants. Recently, we found ourselves having an impromptu lunch at Tiffins at Animal Kingdom.

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I was very delighted to see the many vegetarian options that Tiffins had on the menu, because it can often be challenging to eat vegetarian at the Walt Disney World Parks. Tiffins is named after the Indian word for “lunch” as well as the three tiered metal lunchbox that Indian workers carry. It has a very globally inspired menu featuring Asian, African and Latin cuisine.

The decor is absolutely beautiful and inspired by the sketches that Disney Imagineers created while dreaming up and building Animal Kingdom. The walls are adorned with photos, collages and sculptures.

I ordered off of the Chef’s Prixe Fix menu and we started with the artisanal cheese board, chickpea falafels and a spicy cauliflower dish. Matt had a delicious corn cake dish that was similar to a polenta type of meal, topped with veggies and drizzled with a sweet and spicy sauce. I had the vegetarian noodle bowl, which was a spicy broth and filled with ramen like noodles and tons of fresh vegetables. Both were absolutely delicious.

To find out more about Tiffins and hear our thoughts on the restaurant, check out the video below.