1. Keep your abdominals engaged. It sounds simplistic, but many people forget this basic fundamental of Pilates. Having your core pulled “in and up” while performing the exercises ensures you are getting the most benefit.
2. Create length. Whether on the mat or utilizing springs, reach away from the body. Try to imagine someone pulling on your arms or legs as you perform the exercises. Elongation of the muscles helps create the unique Pilates body that the Method is so famous for.
3. Keep your shoulders down. What good is strong core if your shoulders are up by your ears? The shoulder girdle is the secondary “powerhouse” and as such, is a vital part of your body and practice. Try to be conscious of them rising and plug them back in.
4. Breathe. Don’t worry so much about inhaling and exhaling on cue, as much as just breathing. Many people hold their breath while exercising, which inhibits movement and actually makes any exercise harder.
5. Alignment. Be aware of the negative space around you, whether on the mat or reformer. Center yourself so that there is equal distance on either side of you. Symmetry is crucial to creating a balanced body.
6. Lift your chin. With the proliferation of electronic devices, more and more people are developing “forward head syndrome” from constantly looking down. To counteract that, keep your chin up unless specifically instructed to do otherwise. Opening up the chest creates better posture.
7. Use the mirror. The mirror is a tool. Use it. Are you facing square into it? How’s that alignment? You can learn a lot about your body just by watching your movements.
8. Mix it up. Often people ask, what’s harder, apparatus or mat? The truth is they’re BOTH hard. Moving your own body weight around can be very challenging. Same with the springs. If you only do mat, take a few tower classes or vice versa. You’ll be amazed at how different each varies from the other.
9. Be consistent: As with anything, the more dedicated you are to your practice the more visible the results. Make an appointment with yourself to schedule in your sessions and then keep it! Consistency is the key to change!
10. Respect your body: Every day is different. You may be on fire one day and tired the next. That’s ok. It’s not a competition, with yourself or your neighbor. Do what you can and congratulate yourself for trying. If you’ve set foot in the studio, you’ve already won.
Written By: Leslie DiMarco