Pilates is a mind-body exercise technique that provides many mental and physical benefits. As Joseph Pilates, creator of the method, said, “Pilates develops the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures, restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.”

If you are new to Pilates, what are some general guidelines for doing this type of exercise? What criteria can you use to select a qualified instructor? Use the insights below from the Pilates Method Alliance® (PMA), an international, not-for-profit, professional association that aims to protect the public by establishing certification and continuing education standards for Pilates professionals.

What Is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise technique that seeks to actively engage the mind and the body together. The three overlying principles of Pilates are whole-body health, whole-body commitment and breath. These overlying principles, along with the other fundamentals and ideas that are commonly taught by Pilates professionals, provide focus, depth and layers of learning in the technique. The other fundamentals and ideas are

  • mental concentration
  • control
  • precision of movement
  • balanced muscle development
  • centering
  • rhythm
  • flowing movement
Practicing Pilates

For best results, practice Pilates 2–3 times weekly in approximately 1-hour-long sessions. You may practice Pilates in a group or private setting, based on your financial and physical needs. Prices range from approximately $10–$15 for a group mat session to upward of $65–$75 for 1 hour of private instruction. You can perform Pilates at home, but proper instruction and quality equipment are essential to your success. PMA recommends that group classes be limited to 10–12 participants for mat-based programs and six participants for equipment-based programs.

Using Videos

You may have heard about Pilates videos. PMA does not recommend videos to the general public as a first-time exposure to Pilates. The Pilates method of exercise should be experienced first through participation in classes or private sessions with a comprehensively trained Pilates instructor. Pilates requires feedback on technique, form and body placement. Videos should be used only as a supplement if you are unable to attend a class or private lesson.