Pilates 101: A Great Primer for Curious Dancers

If you’ve started your ballet research recently, you’ve probably noticed that many dancers complement their ballet routines with some form of cross-training such as yoga or pilates. These workouts can be excellent ways to boost your performance as a dancer, create awareness in your body, and support specific goals you may have in your dance and fitness journey.


“Pilates is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.” -Joseph H. Pilates


What is Pilates?

The Pilates Method is an approach in mind and body integration that was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s. The fundamental principles focus on balance, concentration, control, centered awareness, fluid movements, and breath. Pilates enhances the core strength that increases flexibility, coordination, and special awareness. The repertoire is performed as a mat class or on specialized equipment utilizing springs for resistance. Pilates engages the whole person, not just the muscles. For everybody – from a woman starting her fitness journey, to a professional athlete – Pilates will develop and enhance stamina, posture, alignment, and core strength for elite performance to everyday activities.

What’s the difference between Pilates and Yoga?

Pilates mainly concentrates on cultivating core strength in the body and lengthening the spine. Also, Pilates is a valuable tool for increasing strength, definition, and proper posture. Yoga aims to work the body equally and unite the body with mind and spirit. Yoga is often considered therapeutic when compared to Pilates, as it helps people find harmony and release stress. Yoga has many different styles, but all are generally performed in a group setting on a Yoga mat with the aid of a Yoga instructor. Pilates has a full component of mat work, but it also incorporates work on Pilates machines which help build a longer, leaner, dancer-like physique.

Will Pilates help me lose weight?

Pilates is famous for creating long, lean, fit bodies. There are many ways that doing Pilates supports weight loss and a trimmer appearance:

  • Exercise burns calories. How many calories you burn depends on your body type and your level of exertion.
  • Creating lean muscle mass, as Pilates does, is one of the best ways to increase your calorie-burning potential.
  • Pilates tones and shapes the body.
  • One of the best ways to look and feel thinner is to have beautiful posture. Pilates creates a leaner look by emphasizing both length and good alignment.
  • Pilates promotes deep and efficient respiration, which is essential for calorie burning and tissue regeneration.
  • Engaging in an exercise program, like Pilates, promotes self-esteem and heightened lifestyle consciousness. Both are associated with weight loss.
  • Pilates is an enlivening workout that can help sustain energy levels throughout your day. However, it is not usually done as aerobic exercise. Therefore, some people enjoy combining Pilates with aerobic/cardio exercises in order to maximize their weight loss.


Do I have to be in shape to do Pilates?

No! Anyone can start Pilates and any level. It will be catered to meet you where you are. In fact, we like it when dancers find us and are just beginning their journey in Pilates. Then we can teach them the language of Pilates from the beginning.


What’s the difference between working out on the equipment and the Pilates Mat classes?

Mat classes really focus on core work and require you to support your body and are very challenging. Pilates equipment gives you a frame to work within that is often more helpful than mat but can be more challenging when springs are added or taken away. Working on the equipment can also target and tone specific areas of your body very efficiently.


How often should I do Pilates each week?

The ideal practice of Pilates is 3 times per week. However, you need to take into consideration – time, finances, stress level, and burning out. We suggest starting with one session (100% more than you are doing now!) and adding more sessions when you can, providing you are approved to do so. You will see results and feel much better quickly if you do more sessions each week.


How long do I need to take Pilates for me to see changes in my body?

In less than one month you will feel and hopefully even visually see a difference. Everyone responds differently but wonderful changes will happen if you commit to doing Pilates every week! “10 sessions- Feel the difference. 20 sessions- See the difference. 30 sessions- Have a new body!” -Joseph Pilates


Is Pilates only focused on the core?

Everything you do in Pilates is supported by the core (transverse abdominals, pelvic floor, spinal muscles, and diaphragm make up the core). Pilates also focuses on breath, balance, flexibility, coordination, control, stamina, toning, posture, and overall health.


I have herniated discs in my back. Can I do Pilates? Will it be good for my back?

Yes, Pilates is wonderful for back issues! Pilates is able to help in back pain treatment mainly in two ways. The first is by strengthening your muscles and making them more flexible, while the second is through improving your posture. Pilates enables your joints and muscles to become stronger and more flexible. By doing so, you will be able to make them tough enough to withstand the strain and other stresses that happen as you are doing your regular activities. When your muscles are stronger, they can withstand injury better. When the muscles are more flexible, you have less risk of straining them when you contort your body into awkward positions. In this regard, Pilates would really help you in your back pain treatment. Having stronger and more flexible muscles would definitely help in preventing back pain from occurring again. One of the leading causes of back pain is poor posture. A person’s poor posture, whether while standing or sitting, contribute to the unnecessary strain in the muscles that would eventually make them feel pain. A person who does the Pilates exercises would be able to improve their posture because of the movements and training that they do. The exercises would make it easier for the person to stand straight, not slouch, and avoid other poor positions that contribute to the back pain.

I recently had surgery. Can I take Pilates?

Yes, depending on what type of surgery. We do require a medical release from your doctor. Once you have received clearance, an instructor will then be able to work with you to begin strengthening and getting you back to your best self!

I’m pregnant, can I take group classes? Which ones are safe for me to take?

We recommend you take privates when you are pregnant. Your body is going through so many changes and many adjustments will have to be made that only a private session can allow for. If you are a current client you can continue with your current Pilates schedule (classes and privates) through the 1st trimester (3-4 months). Then you will need to have the teacher’s approval to continue in a group class after 4 months.