Everything You Need to Know About Pilates

Pilates is a form of exercise developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It focuses on strengthening and elongating muscles, increasing flexibility, and improving posture. This type of workout can be done at home or in a studio with an experienced instructor. 

Pilates puts emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance. The core, consisting of the muscles of the abdomen, low back, and hips, is often called the "powerhouse" and is the key to a person's stability. The exercises in Pilates target these muscles. The goal is to build a strong core so the rest of the body can follow and become more flexible and balanced.

The Key Tenets of Pilates

There are six key points that are the basis of all Pilates exercises.


Pilates breathing is done by inhaling through the nose and exhaling out of the mouth. All exercises are done in coordination with breath, which helps focus on precision, timing, and technique. Breathing correctly helps people master their movements more effectively and helps activate your abdominal and core muscles during the exercise.


Pilates exercises are done with slow, careful movements that require concentration and precise form. You won't find bouncing or high-impact moves here because they don't allow you to focus on your technique. The best way to truly master your body is through proper control of your movement.


Pilates is known for its focus on elongating and sculpting the body rather than bulking up. This can be achieved by taking advantage of eccentric, concentric, and isometric muscle activation combined with good technique. Pilates is all about strengthening your core muscle groups through controlled movement that emphasizes proper form.


One of the main concepts of Pilates is that the exercises are slow, controlled movements for a smooth workout that's more rhythmic or dance-like. It's important to make sure your muscles are elongated and relaxed while you're exercising instead of tensing up. This helps focus on proper form and movement.

Core stability

The core is a crucial part of Pilates and the exercises work to strengthen this area. This helps provide support while also building flexibility. The Pilates method helps build strength, endurance, and stability.


Pilates exercises work to improve balance and coordination because they target all muscle groups, not just the parts that people traditionally think of as being used in exercise. The goal is to create a balanced body, so exercises are done across the entire body instead of just working on specific areas.

The Benefits of Pilates

The benefits of Pilates start with building a strong core and lean, sculpted muscles throughout the body, but it also offers other important health and wellness perks that can improve your life.

Improved flexibility

Pilates is all about strengthening your muscles while also helping them to become more flexible. The elongated, controlled movements help increase flexibility in the muscles and target areas that may not be as flexible on their own because of weak support from other muscle groups. 

Increased muscle strength and tone

By working all of your body's muscle groups in a balanced way, you can improve your overall strength and tone.  This will not only make you stronger, but it can help prevent certain sports-related injuries and muscle imbalances that often arise from overworking certain muscle groups. 

Balanced muscular strength

The best way to get a sculpted, toned body is by targeting all of your muscle groups. A major part of Pilates is working on strengthening your core muscles while also improving the strength in smaller muscle areas like arms, legs, and abdominals. 

Improved flexibility and coordination

Pilates exercises promote proper alignment and technique, which means it's easier to perform tasks in everyday life with improved coordination. Pilates is about the mind-body connection, so improved muscle control and awareness has a domino effect, helping with better balance and coordination in day-to-day life.

Increased body awareness

People who practice Pilates tend to have a much improved awareness of their bodies, which helps improve everyday movement.  Having better muscle control, flexibility, and coordination can make it easier to perform everyday tasks because your body begins to understand what balanced movement feels like.

Greater aerobic capacity

You won't be able to run a marathon after doing Pilates a few times, but practicing Pilates increases your capacity for aerobic exercise. People who practice Pilates also tend to recover faster from a workout because their muscles are stronger and more flexible.

Enhanced muscular control of your back and limbs

The key to health is movement, and people who practice Pilates typically have less back pain and stiff joints because their muscles are stronger. This also helps them perform everyday tasks with greater ease since the body better understands how to move in a proper, strong way instead of moving incorrectly or without balance.

Improved stabilization of your spine

Your body's core musculature is there to support your spine. By strengthening and balancing your core, your spine is going to be more flexible, strong, and balanced. This stable foundation can help prevent back pain and make it less likely to be injured during your other daily activities or workouts.

Prevention of musculoskeletal injuries

Pilates exercises are meant to be done with proper form at all times, meaning you're focused on moving your body efficiently and safely. This helps with better control of your muscles and awareness of important signals that may come from your body when you do something wrong or lift too much weight during your regular day. 

Injury Rehabilitation

Pilates exercises can help improve flexibility and balance, which means it's easier to rehabilitate from injuries. Since Pilates helps with proper coordination and better body awareness, it's a great form of physical therapy for people who may be recovering from an injury or surgery that affects their muscles and mobility.

Increased lung capacity and circulation

Pilates exercises, especially the ones that focus on breathing, encourage diaphragmatic breathing. This can help people with low lung capacity to improve their oxygen flow and increase circulation.

Improved concentration

Pilates exercises are done at a slow pace with focus on proper form, which can help improve concentration by requiring you to control your breathing while also focusing on the muscles that you're using. Concentrated breathing and movement is about mindfulness, and you'll find mental benefits throughout the week from regular Pilates.

Improved posture

Pilates is meant to be performed with your body in a neutral, stable position. This has an overall positive effect on the body's posture and how it holds itself throughout the day. Pilates helps your body understand what it feels like to move in a balanced way, and you'll find that carries through your everyday life, as well.

Stress management and relaxation

The meditative nature of Pilates helps with stress and anxiety. The repetitive motions help you focus on your body's movements and actions, which can be a form of mindfulness in and of itself or encourage mindfulness by working through the different muscle groups and breathing patterns that go into each exercise.

Getting Started with Pilates

Pilates is a great way to work on your body's mind-body connection and increase flexibility, strength, and balance. While it's important to make Pilates a regular part of your life and is great to do at home, it takes time to master the movements and feel what it's like when done right and the only way to do that is to start with private instruction. Remember: one of the key components of Pilates is precision, and professional instruction will assure that you're using your body correctly and safely.

Get started by hiring a private instructor or attending a class in person so you can get guidance from a certified professional who can show you the proper form and technique. 

Once your body has internalized the correct movements and positioning, Pilates can be done at home with nothing more than a mat on the floor.