by Pamela Debiase
Let’s pretend you are a Pilates virgin.
You heard about Pilates and how it changed your friend’s life and he or she is moving around pain free and stronger at 40 than he/she was at 25. You think gosh, I’m only in my early 30’s and my lower back is killing me perhaps I should to try this. In this fast paced life we live in 2016, you do a Yelp search, it recommends a studio, the reviews look great and you book your first session and your off!
Your first session is harder than you thought it would be in a way you didn’t expect it. You only did about 5 –10 repetitions of anything at most and sometimes the movements were pretty small, but my god did it make you think (brain workout you weren’t expecting!) and activate muscles YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU HAD. At the end of the session you feel invigorated, excited and taller than you were when you walked in the studio. You are all “Sign me up!” and “I’m in!” Then you ask your teacher how many times a week you should do Pilates - A VERY GOOD QUESTION TO ASK.
You have all the best intentions because you feel really great right now. Your teacher says, “2 to 3 times a week is ideal, but let’s talk about cost and class types and figure out your schedule”. This is where it starts to go downhill for some. You start thinking about your work, your responsibilities to your family, your bank account and how your schedule is already full and this seems like way more of a commitment than you wanted. You just wanted to feel better, not have to change your whole life around and feel more stressed out financially or just time crunched. Any of this sound familiar to you?
So what does the man, Joe Pilates, have to say about this? In Joe’s book “Return to Life through Contrology” he says:
If you will faithfully perform your Contrology exercises regularly only four times a week for just three months as outlined in RETURN TO LIFE, you will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed mental vigor and spiritual enhancement. Contrology 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. You will develop muscular power with corresponding endurance, ability to perform arduous duties, to play strenuous games, to walk, run or travel for long distances without undue body fatigue or mental strain. And this by no means is the end.
As a Pilates teacher and a regular practitioner of Pilates (yes teacher doesn’t always mean you are a regular practitioner…make sure your teacher is!) I can tell you that he is right! Imagine that.
The thing is you have to make it a PRACTICE. There is never is a quick fix……when will we learn. To really change your life, you have to change the way you live it. So taking one private session a week is just not enough. Sorry if this is not the news you wanted to hear, but 3-5 times a week is my recommendation. The good news is that it does not need to break the bank.
Before you feel overwhelmed and give up before you’ve started, I have some options for you:
- Semi-Privates and Group Classes
Take a few Private sessions to get yourself going and then find a friend to join you and make it a Semi-Private. Group Classes are a great option too, just make sure they aren’t too big so you still get the personal attention you need. Here at Westwood Pilates we have a max of 4 students in a class so that the teacher can still carefully watch you for safety and advise on modifications you may need to make for your specific body.
- A combination of Privates and Group Classes
You don’t have to give up Privates altogether, and you don’t have to only take Privates. If you can afford to take Privates 3 times a week – go for it! If not, figure out a combination that works with you budget.
- A combination of Privates/Semi-Privates/Group classes and Self Practice
This is the hardest one for most of us, but I think the most important one. When you start to practice for yourself, this is where it starts to fully envelope you and change your body and mind. If you feel like you will never remember the exercises, order or details, there are lots of online options these days of classes you can follow along. I’d recommend Pilatesology.com.
As the practice becomes more important to you, finding the time to do it naturally becomes easier and a priority. Clients who take only one Private a week don’t always realize what they are missing out on, but it is better to take one Private a week then none at all. Not all teachers encourage their clients to pursue self-workouts. I believe that self-workouts can only make you gain more out of your workouts with an instructor, as you are learning to take responsibility for yourself instead of just listening to what someone tells you to do. You’ll find you gain more understanding about what you are doing and why, which will only help you dig deeper into your practice.
If you feel a high after the class, but the benefits cannot be maintained, you need to figure out how to make Pilates a regular part of your life. Once you make Pilates a practice or a way of living, you will be surprised and overwhelmed at how it changes ALL aspects of your life. It will take you on a natural progression to live a healthy balanced life.