Beginners Guide to Pilates

You may have heard about Pilates but what is it? And why would you do it?

Joseph Pilates designed his exercise method in the early part of the 20th century. The original mat-based work consisted of 34 exercises which have been adapted over the years using the latest in exercise research to make them suitable for group exercise sessions. The original repertoire is still practiced, but certainly in most group sessions you will be offered adapted exercises as well.

Joseph Pilates also developed some of the first equipment based exercise machines and there are many studios offering work on the Reformer, Cadillac , Wunder Chair and Ped-o -Pull amongst other.


Pilates is a form of functional fitness, designed to improve the quality of your everyday life. The aim is to get the body working as a whole kinetic chain, strengthening and lengthening the muscles and re-aligning imbalances. This also makes it ideal for cross-training with all your other sports and activities!

There are 6 principles that sit behind the Pilates method:

  • Centering
  • Precision
  • Control
  • Breath
  • Flow
  • Concentration

You will be aiming to flow from one exercise into the next; constantly reinforcing the strength of your “powerhouse” (abdominals, lower back, buttock and inner thigh).You will only be required to perform a small number of repetitions but with as much precision and control as possible. Sessions typically start by finding a stable base position and then layer in options working with precision and control. It is also common to add in extra stretching for those problem areas such as hamstrings (back of the legs) and hip flexors( front of the hip) , necks and shoulders. Pilates includes mobility work for our major joints particularly the spinal column working in all planes of motion to ensure our bodies move well. There is of course lots of core and abdominal work (this includes pelvic floor too).

All of these principles come together to enhance the quality of movement, restoring balance in the body, making it more efficient and helping prevent injury. Other benefits include:

  • Improved Posture- opening up the chest and strengthening the upper back muscles
  • Improved Flexibility- this will help with everyday task such as putting on shoes as well as sports performance
  • Improved Core strength- helping with all activities and injury prevention
  • Improvements in breath usage- helps with asthma, stress reduction , birthing and sports performance
  • Improvements in the nervous system- improving co-ordination and cognitive processing
  • Improved balance – necessary for everything from running for the bus to skiing
  • Improved body confidence – empowering you to feel confident on your body’s abilities.
  • Reduced stress levels- a big bonus in our fast paced society

pic-1-web   pic-2-web  pic-3-web  pic-4-web

A typical class starts with a standing preparation phase- we get the body loosened off and then go down to the mat- we work lying on our backs, fronts, sides, in all 4’s and kneeling- there are lots of options for anyone who can’t work in a particular positon for whatever reason. Your instructor will come around and help with gentle hands-on correction if needed (and if you are happy with it!).

Small equipment is often used in class such as resistance bands, magic circles, small balls etc to add variety, extra challenges or extra support to exercises.

So whether you’re a desk-worker, pregnant, recovering from injury, working on your sports performance or dealing with neurological disorders or simply want to keep moving , there is something in the Pilates method for all.

In 10 sessions you will feel the difference, in 20 you will see the difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body” Joseph Pilates

jo-pic-webJo Everill-Taylor Bsc(hons), PT Dip.

Jo is a highly expereinced Movement Specialist and has now been looking after people’s health and fitness goals as an instructor for over 14 years.

Having suffered back problems after the birth of her children, she is determined to share her knowledge and experience to help you become pain free.

Jo originally studied contemporary dance alongside her degree in International Business and German and ran the contemporary dance society at university- choreographing and dancing in productions.

She holds many qualifications over a vast range of subject areas:

Pilates Coach, Biomechanics Trainer, Level 4 Specialist Back Care Instructor, Exercise Referral Specialist, Pre/Post Natal Exercise Instructor, Children’s Exercise Instructor,Personal Trainer, Nutritional Counsellor and Group Exercise Instructor.

She is also a master trainer for Beamfit uk.

Jo is currently adding Kinesiology to her field of expertise.

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