Written by: Danielle Hattingh

I can remember walking out of my first Pilates class, puzzled and confused. It was only after a couple more classes, two additional courses and a few years experience that I really appreciated it for what it is.

All good and well for a Pilates instructor, but what about the person attending their first class?

What do you need to know?

What should your expectations of a good Pilates class be?

Is Pilates for you?

Pilates basics – what you need to know?

Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. At first Joseph called his method of exercise “contrology”. The Pilates method was born and has gained popularity through the years and is currently practiced by over 11 million people in the USA alone.

What is it all about?

As the name above suggests, Pilates is all about moving with control. When Pilates is practiced regularly it improves posture, flexibility and strength, through the correct recruitment of the deep core muscles of the trunk and body. Pilates puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, balance and co-ordination to mention a few of its fundamental principles.

What is my core and how to I use it?

Your core or “powerhouse” are the muscles located closest to the bones, we also refer to them as the deep stabilising muscles, but these muscles when utilised in the correct manner, help to assist in developing a strong and efficient body.

When referring to the core muscles we referring to the following:

  • Transverse abdominus
  • External and internal Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominus
  • The pelvic floor
  • Multifidus of the spinal muscles
  • Diaphragm

In Pilates we aim to draw strength and stabilisation from these muscles, and when worked in conjunction they help to prevent lower back pain and improve working capacity in your day to day life.

What constitutes a good Pilates class and a good Pilates instructor?

I believe good Pilates instructors are ones who have felt the benefits and improvements in their own life. Pilates has greatly improved my posture and I continue to see improvements in my day to day life. You can see the benefits of Pilates in your instructor.

  • The class is well structured and has a good flow to it. The class easily transitions from standing, to seated to lying down.
  • The Pilates instructors ability to assess their clients needs and are quickly able to modify exercises so they are more suitable to each individual.
  • The Pilates instructor should have sound knowledge about the human body and its bio-mechanics.
  • The Pilates instructor can assess when a client is struggling verse when they are challenged.
  • The Pilates instructor can answer questions and are knowledgeable in the prescription of exercises.
  • The Pilates instructor should be able to provide good instruction both verbally and through demonstration.

There are many people who practice Pilates as their only form of exercise, but Pilates will compliment ANY exercise training program or sport. Pilates will benefit anyone from professional athletes to pregnancy. The controlled practice and attention to detail is what makes it perfect to add to any existing program or the person who just wants to start a physical exercise routine.

Check out our Pilates programmes here