Tag Archive for: Pilates Class

In the age of home workouts, we’ve come to realize the many perks of creating a space and routine at home that complements your in-studio practice. But for many of us, working out at home just doesn’t have the same draw as going into a beautiful, fully-equipped and expertly-staffed studio.

We get it! We look forward to hopping on the Pilates Reformer or Gyrotonic Tower just as much as the next person. Plus, we love the accountability of coming in to see our favorite trainer on a set schedule. We know it can be tough to keep up motivation and consistency when exercising solely at home. 

But who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?

In this blog, MOVE Trainer, Jane Sheets shares her 3 Essential Exercise Props: the foam roller, resistance bands and light hand weights. All three of these props and the suggestions below can be used to level up your home fitness routine. Jane’s favorite three props are easily purchased online or at your local fitness store. Also, each prop has a wide range of applications (that means the prop possibilities are endless!). Read on as Jane unwraps her prop insights, pro-tips, and creative exercise ideas.

And don’t forget to leave us a comment below – share your experiments and, if you’re already a prop enthusiast, let us know how incorporating props has enhanced the effectiveness of your home workouts.

The Benefits of Using Exercise Props

While Pilates, the Gyrotonic Expansion System®, and Barre all provide challenging workouts without props (we’re looking at you Pilates teaser and Barre squats!), after you get the basics down and start looking to add another layer of difficulty, it can be beneficial to add in small props to your routine.

So what’s the lowdown on props?

Well, props add variety and versatility to exercises. Jane says,

“We can use props for many different reasons: to increase challenge, to help with mobility and balance, and to make an exercise more accessible OR more challenging. We can also use props to highlight a specific aspect of an exercise and encourage enhanced muscle engagement.”

Jane also notes that props can even channel the vibes of high-tech equipment, like the Pilates Reformer, right in your living room. So let’s dive in and learn how.

Exercise Equipment: The Foam Roller: Unleashing Muscular Recovery and Flexibility

What is a Foam Roller and What Are Its Benefits?

A foam roller is a cylindrical tool made of – you guessed it – foam, typically used in fitness routines for self-myofascial release, also known as self-massage. By applying pressure to specific muscle groups, the foam roller helps release tension and improve blood flow, which can lead to increased flexibility, reduced soreness, and overall enhanced muscle function. 

Foam rolling is commonly used as a recovery technique in fitness routines to enhance mobility and optimize workout performance. However, as you’ll see below Jane also loves to get creative with the foam roller to use it for stability work as well as core strengthening. In general, we recommend you purchase the soft or medium hardness rollers. Some companies also make half foam rollers which are flat on one side and curved on the other. This style is still just as useful and is perfect for those who need a slightly more stable surface.

Foam Roller Exercises

Beginner Exercise: Arm Circles

Set your foam roller down lengthwise along your mat and lie on top of it on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Make sure you feel stable and grounded with the entire length of your spine, head, and neck resting on the foam roller. From there, slowly begin your arm circles, taking care to keep your abs engaged as your body adjusts to the added instability of the foam roller. The video below will show you arm circles without the foam roller as a guide for the foundation of the movement.

Intermediate Exercise: Back Extension

Start by laying on your stomach and either hold the foam roller or place it under your arms. From there, move through your back extension letting your arms gently move the roller and your spine lifts. Back extension is great for strengthening the entire back chain. As with the first exercise, the foam roller provides great feedback and helps your body build both stability and strength. The video below will show you exactly what to do!

Advanced Exercise: Hip Rolls

Level up by placing the foam roller under your feet in hip rolls. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat resting on the foam roller. Engage your glutes and core as you slowly roll up one vertebrae at a time into your hip bridge. Roll back down slowly and repeat for a few repetitions. In the video below, Jane does a fun variation for added hamstring and glute challenges.

Fitness Equipment: The Resistance Band: Adding Resistance and Strength to Your Workout

Resistance bands are highly portable and versatile props. They also have the added bonus of being compact, making them perfect to tuck into your suitcase when you’re traveling. With its elastic properties and various levels of resistance, you can control how much intensity you’re adding, making resistance bands indispensable companions for both beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts.

Advantages of Using Resistance Bands

Jane points out that these unassuming bands can help you feel greater muscle engagement, as well as build muscle flexibility and strength. Resistance band exercises effectively target and activate specific muscle groups, promoting gradual and balanced strengthening. They also provide constant tension throughout the entire range of motion, which can lead to improved muscle tone and definition.

Jane notes that it’s nice to have a couple different tensions of bands and for everyone to also consider purchasing the loop style band for leg work. In the exercises below, Jane highlights three different ways resistance bands can be useful: to offer support in a movement, to encourage a greater range of motion, and as added resistance to an exercise.

Resistance Band Exercises

Beginner Exercise: Chest Stretch

Using a light or medium tension band, hold the band with your arms straight out in front of you. Pull your arms to your sides, bending your elbows, and lift your sternum/chest slightly into the band as it stretches. Focus on the movement coming from your shoulder blades and sternum, rather than your lower back. Try repeating 4-6 times. This movement will both stretch your chest and improve mobility.

Intermediate Exercise: Leg Circles

To get started, hook the band around the ball/arch of your foot, just like Jane in the video below. While gripping each end of the band in one hand, begin to circle your leg. When used in leg circles, the resistance band offers support and enhanced control of your leg as it moves. For many this allows the movement to feel more accessible and easeful.

Advanced Exercise: Banded Squats 

This is where the loop-style band is useful but you can also securely tie a standard resistance band to create your own ad hoc loop. You can choose what feels most comfortable but either place the band around your thighs or calves. From there do your squats. Using the band here not only adds resistance but it can also help to activate abductors and glutes which will help you get the most out of the movement.

Workout Equipment: Light Hand Weights: Elevating Your Home Strength Training

The Benefits of Light Hand Weights

Light hand weights (1-3 pounds max!) introduce an element of external resistance (i.e. weight), intensifying home workouts to stimulate muscle growth and enhance strength. By adding weights into your repertoire, basic exercises can become more challenging. Anyone who has taken Jane’s virtual Barre class knows that 1-2 pound hand weights are more than enough to feel the burn after rounds of bicep curls and tricep extensions. Besides enhancing muscle definition, incorporating light hand weights can also increase caloric output during your workout.

Light Hand Weight Exercises

Beginner Exercise: “Reformer” Arm Work 

We love to mimic some of the arm exercises from our reformer repertoire at home using weights.  For example– “offering” from the front rowing reformer series. Sit with your legs crossed or out in front of you (whichever feels most comfortable and allows you to sit upright). Have your elbows flexed at 90 degrees by sides, palms up and holding the hand weights. Then, extend your arms forward, keeping palms upward.

Take a breath in and as you do open your arms to the sides, maintaining the grip and upward palms. Exhale and return your arms forward. Lastly, inhale to flex the elbows to return to the starting position. The breathing in this movement helps you keep a nice intentional pace, but don’t worry if your inhales and exhales don’t match up, just move slowly with good form.

Intermediate Exercise: Roll-Up With Weights

See the video below for basic guidance on how to do a roll-up without weights. You’ll simply add in the weights by holding one in each hand as you perform your roll down. The weights will actually offer you some assistance as you roll up off of the mat. As you roll back down, the added weight will help you articulate your spine slowly which is great not only for spinal mobility but also core engagement and strength.

Advanced Exercise: Bicep Curls in Half Roll Back 

Adding weighted bicep curls or other arm work to your c-curve/half roll back: Adding arm work while holding the c-curve/roll back means that you stay in this challenging position while having to work your biceps/arms, increasing abdominal work and challenging co-ordination. Watch the video below and then give it a try yourself!

Creating a Balanced Home Routine with Fitness Gear

Want more guidance on how to incorporate these fitness props at home? At MOVE Wellness, we’re all about seizing the power of virtual movement to supplement your in-studio routine. Our favorite online options include our free Youtube channel, our dynamic livestream classes, and our ever-accessible on-demand workouts and guided programs.

Virtual options are functional and effective because they offer flexibility for scheduling (you set the schedule however you want!) and are also a low, or even no-cost, option for classes meaning you can supplement an in-person practice without a big impact on your health or your monthly budget. But perhaps most importantly, our virtual options allow you to have a class-based format guided by our fabulous instructors. This means, Jane and our other instructors plan a great workout for you and all you have to do is show up ready to move!

Here’s a sample workout schedule that incorporates all three props into your weekly routine:

Just getting started in your fitness journey? We’d recommend scheduling your Introductory Private Session with us. This 50 minute movement session will take you through a great workout individualized to your unique body and goals.

Jane’s Final Tips for Success

  • Always warm up your body before moving into more demanding movements. When you do take on a challenge, listen to your body and avoid overexertion. 
  • Make sure you have the basics down of any movement before adding in a prop. We love to add in props for greater creativity and fun, but only as our bodies are ready. Having time one-on-one or in a small group class setting where a trainer has their eyes on your form and is offering corrections when needed will help you build the body awareness you need for a great solo practice. 
  • Know that growth takes time and consistency. Keep up with your weekly practice and know that you’re building the foundation for greater strength.

Incorporating the foam roller, resistance bands, and hand weights into your home fitness routine offers an abundance of advantages. To recap just a few, Jane reminded us that even though we often think of the foam roller as a tool for muscle recovery and flexibility, it can also be a great way to challenge balance and stability. She taught us how resistance bands amplify resistance training with their adaptable tension, helping to sculpt and really home in on targeted muscle engagement. Last but not least, Jane showed us how to add in hand weights to infuse your workouts with heightened intensity and take strength-building to the next level.

Ready to dive in? We encourage you to experiment with these props and feel the benefits for yourself. MOVE offers numerous virtual class options that incorporate these great tools into your workout routine. From our livestream classes (check out our FREE trial if you haven’t yet!) to our Youtube Channel there are workouts for all experience levels and schedules. 

We’d love to hear your experiences and your favorite exercises using props. Comment below!

“If you are just starting out or coming back to movement from a break or injury, low impact workouts are gentle on your joints. These types of workouts can ease you into the process of getting stronger, while giving your body a chance to build up the load tolerance on your tissues to avoid injury.”

—Elaine Economou

If you’ve made the decision to bring more movement into your life, congratulations! That commitment to yourself is the first step. And it’s a big one. Now it’s time to find the right workout.

Benefits of low impact workouts

Benefits of low-impact workouts include:

  • Strengthening your body
  • Improving flexibility
  • Minimizing your risk of injury
  • Helping you focus on the mind-body connection
  • Improving your form and range of motion when working out

These benefits make low-impact workouts like Pilates a great choice for beginners or people who are returning to exercise after a break.

Elaine Economou‘s latest blog post for popular website Sixty and Me shares how a low impact workout can be a smart choice for beginners. Getting started with a mind-body movement system like Pilates can build strength and minimize your risk of injury.

Read the full blog post on Sixty and Me.

What is the best low impact workout?

The best low impact workout is the one you can commit to for at least a few minutes every day. Pilates is a great example. At MOVE Wellness we’ve seen its impact on clients again and again. Doing things you love regularly and getting outside to walk are also wonderful choices. As you build your commitment you can start increasing the pace and adding in workouts like the one I’ve provided below.

Can you lose weight with low impact exercise?

Low-impact workouts can support weight loss by helping you create a stronger, leaner body.

Low impact workout routine

Try this sequence of low impact movements perfect for beginners. You’ll be on your way to reaching your movement goals in no time!

Learn the essentials when you’re ready for more

Elaine Economou’s new Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates is a 28-day program at MOVE On Demand designed to get you moving safely and keep you on track. Each week Elaine introduces you to the basic principles of Pilates with a consistent warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. And, it comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!


About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

What is Pilates breathing?

Pilates breathing is a way of breathing mindfully from your diaphragm in coordination with your movements.

https://youtu.be/tTHqDUoBGzU

How do you breathe when doing Pilates?

You can start Pilates breathing by learning how to use a diaphragmatic breathing technique. You want to optimize a full three-dimensional inhalation without overusing any one set of muscles.

What is diaphragmatic breathing in Pilates?

According to Harvard Health, diaphragmatic breathing is breathing deeply from the diaphragm, which “encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide.”

Why is breathing important in Pilates?

Joseph Pilates said that “The breath shapes the movement and defines its dynamic.”

Some benefits of Pilates breathing include:

  • Improved focus
  • Increased control
  • Abdominal engagement
  • Higher energy levels
  • Better circulation
  • Tension relief
  • Lower blood pressure

How can I start a Pilates breathing practice?

You can start now! Watching our video above is a great first step. We’ll talk you through the basics of Pilates breathing and practice some breathing exercises to get a feel for it.

When you’re ready for more, you may want to look at Elaine Economou’s new program Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates. We know the more you move, the better you feel. Sometimes we need a little push to get started. Movement Essentials is a 28-day program at MOVE On Demand designed to get you moving safely and keep you on track. Each week Elaine introduces you to the basic principles of Pilates with a consistent warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. And, it comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!


About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

Now available at MOVE On Demand

Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates is a 28-day program designed to set you on a path to feeling stronger and more confident in your movement. Each week Elaine Economou will introduce you to the foundational principles of Pilates exercises with a warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. The program comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Movement Essentials is the first step in understanding your body and getting to know your own movement patterns. If you are ready to add Pilates to your fitness routine, this program will set you up for long term success. If you are familiar with Pilates, you will expand your knowledge and understanding to deepen your personal practice. You’ll get stronger safely, effectively, and efficiently while building healthy habits and consistency into your fitness routine. All in the comfort of your own home.

Start here if…

What to Expect in the Program:

  • To be challenged by a faster pace
  • Practice using correct form to get the most out of an exercise
  • Movements that support other exercise programs (walking, running, tennis, golf, etc.)
  • Learning how to set a solid movement foundation
  • Working towards a 20-30 second plank
  • Completing the full Pilates hundred
  • Moving the spine in all the planes of motion
Elaine Economou doing Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life

What’s included in the full program?

Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates includes:

  • A series of introductory topics to deepen your knowledge and set the stage for your personal journey
  • 1 weekly warm up routine—make sure your body is ready for movement each week
  • 2 weekly Pilates classes—customize your journey by doing each class once or twice each week
  • 1 weekly special topics class—including feet, core, fascia, and posture
  • 2 printable calendars—follow along and keep yourself accountable
Elaine Economou doing Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life

Are you ready to start moving?

“The consistency and frequency of your workout routine builds positive outcomes.”

—Elaine Economou

Now more than ever, MOVE Wellness offers a complete solution to get you moving and keep you moving. By committing to this 28-day program, you are committing to yourself. Movement Essentials: Foundations in Pilates is now available for the introductory price of $99.99 at MOVE On Demand.

MOVE Wellness Studios offers Reformer Pilates classes in Ann Arbor, MI, led by experienced trainers.

Pilates is an excellent way for men and women of all ages and fitness levels to build strength and flexibility. In Reformer Pilates, the exercises are done on specialized equipment, called a Reformer, to provide more resistance and allow for the fullest expression of movement.

Reformer Pilates is highly adaptable; when done properly, it can be modified to accommodate injuries, build endurance for beginners, or challenge even the toughest athletes. 

With that in mind, our Ann Arbor studio limits Pilates classes to six people to allow for more individualized instruction. A weekly group class is a great way to get motivation, support, and accountability! 

We also offer private training sessions for those who want to work one on one and enjoy a completely customized Pilates experience.  

What is Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is done on a rolling platform with springs that add resistance to your Pilates workout. This allows for more dynamic movement that can train many parts of the body in different ways.  

The Pilates Reformer has a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the Reformer by a set of springs. Springs can be added or taken away to provide different levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame.

The Reformer gives you more options in how you do your Pilates exercises. 

Pilates exercises can be done: 

  • lying down
  • sitting
  • standing
  • pushing the footbar
  • perched on the footbar
  • perched on the shoulder blocks
  • upside down
  • sideways
  • and more

Can beginners do Reformer Pilates?

Yes! Reformer parts can be adjusted to your body size and level of skill, so it’s a great option for beginners

At MOVE Wellness, we make sure that everyone feels supported by first starting with a one on one or group Pilates Essentials class so we can familiarize you with the basics.

Is Reformer Pilates better than doing mat Pilates?

Mat classes tend to focus on core work and require you to support the stabilization of your body. Equipment like the Reformer, on the other hand, provides a frame to work within. 

Because the Reformer provides some support, it may feel easier than working on a mat, but your Pilates trainer can make it more challenging by adding or taking away springs. Working on the equipment can also efficiently target and tone specific areas of your body.

The type of Pilates that works best for you will depend on your body and fitness goals. Our trainers can help make recommendations if you’re unsure which class(es) you should take. 

How many times a week should you do Pilates Reformer?

We recommend practicing Pilates three times per week to support neuromuscular patterning and see the most rapid change in your body. 

However, we recognize that barriers like time and finances may limit the number of sessions you can do each week. We’ll work with you to customize a plan that meets your needs.

Can you lose weight doing Reformer Pilates?

Pilates helps create long, lean, fit bodies. There are many ways that doing Pilates supports weight loss, but it is also recommended that clients also eat a healthy diet and incorporate some form of cardiovascular training to boost their metabolism. 

Is Reformer Pilates more expensive?

All in-studio classes at MOVE Wellness are on mixed equipment and include all aspects of Pilates. Pricing depends on whether you do private sessions or small group classes.

Reformer Pilates at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The MOVE Wellness fitness studio is conveniently located on Jackson Road near I-94 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

We offer both private training and small-group classes for Reformer Pilates. Each session or class is led by one of our experienced Pilates trainers so you can have a safe and effective workout, regardless of your age, fitness level, or wellness goals.

The Benefits of Pilates for Men

What do you think of when you picture a Pilates class? For many, ‘Pilates,’ brings up images of leggings-clad women doing light exercises that look more like stretching than an actual workout — but that’s a complete misconception.

Although Pilates doesn’t incorporate intense cardio or heavy weights, it’s still a tough workout for men and women of all ages. In fact, some of the top athletes in the world incorporate Pilates into their routines.. Pilates works new muscles and movements, so it’s challenging without causing the strain some higher-impact workouts do. But whether you’re a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs or a retiree looking to switch up your workout routine, you can find benefits in Pilates.

Here are answers to some common questions about Pilates, its benefits for men, and a free Pilates workout you can try from the comfort of your own home.

Try even more Pilates classes with our MOVE On Demand Series: Building a Strong Core with Pilates for Men and sign up for our free 14-day livestream class trial.

What is Pilates, exactly?

Pilates is a safe, adaptable exercise method that can be done on a mat or with a specialized Reformer machine. It uses resistance and your own body weight to stabilize your core and strengthen your body. Pilates’ adaptability makes it great for all body types and fitness levels, while still being a challenge for even the toughest athletes. This form of exercise is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension.

Some men dismiss Pilates as a form of exercise because it doesn’t involve high intensity cardio or heavy weightlifting. But don’t let that fool you — Pilates is a great workout that corrects muscular imbalances and builds a strong and stable core, without the impact on your joints that extreme fitness can cause.

Can you gain muscle with Pilates?

Yes. Pilates helps lengthen the muscle and build strength for men of all fitness levels. 

Is Pilates good for weight loss in men?

Pilates supports weight loss by helping to create a leaner, fitter body. However, for best results, men should combine Pilates with cardio and a healthy diet.

Do men do Pilates?

Yes, we have many men in our studio who enjoy the benefits of Pilates. Top athletes, including tennis champion Andy Murray and members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, also do Pilates.

What are some benefits of Pilates for men?

Here are some benefits of Pilates that men of all ages can enjoy:

  • Improved flexibility: Flexibility is crucial. According to Harvard Health, it allows us to more easily achieve a full range of motion, which leads to both improved athletic performance (a smoother golf swing) and  functional abilities (reaching and bending). Muscles get shorter and less elastic as we age, so exercises like Pilates that lengthen the muscles and improve flexibility are great for keeping you moving.
  • Building strength: Pilates can be an effective strength training workout for all fitness levels; this exercise can be adapted to provide stability for beginners or provide a challenging workout for athletes.
  • Alleviate pain and side effects of illness: Working the deep abs and pelvic floor can help alleviate back problems, and can be incredibly beneficial for men who have been, or will be, treated for prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the “chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50,” making it especially useful for men in this age group.
  • It supports weight loss: Pilates helps to create long, lean, fit bodies. There are many ways that doing Pilates supports weight loss, but it is also recommended that you eat a healthy diet and incorporate cardio to boost the metabolism.
  • Safety: While high-intensity workouts are great for getting your heart pumping, they can be jarring on your joints and possibly cause injury. Pilates, especially when done with a knowledgeable trainer, is a safe, effective way to workout without the pain. It can be done as a standalone routine or worked into a more high-intensity regimen for variation.
  • It can be done alone or in a group: Men still wary of trying Pilates (despite the endorsement of many professional athletes!) can start off with a private Pilates session. One-on-one sessions will put you in contact with a Pilates trainer who can give you individual attention and a great introduction to this workout that’s adapted to your current fitness level. At MOVE Wellness, small group classes are limited to six students to allow for personalized instruction.

How quickly will you see results with Pilates?

Everyone responds differently to Pilates, but if you maintain a somewhat regular practice, you’ll see changes quickly. According to Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates: “10 sessions — feel the difference, 20 sessions — see the difference, 30 sessions — have a new body.”

Pilates Workout for Men

This 20 minute Pilates workout will take you through exercises that will help with the tight hamstrings and shoulders that are common for men, but experienced by all. All you need is your mat!

Getting started with Pilates 

Pilates can be done on a mat or with specialized equipment. Mat Pilates classes, like the 20 minute workout above, tend to focus on core work and require you to support the stabilization of your body. Pilates equipment, like the Cadillac or Reformer, gives you a frame to work within that is often more helpful than a mat, but can be more challenging when springs are added or taken away. Working on the equipment can also target and tone specific areas of your body very efficiently.

If you’re new to Pilates or fitness in general, it can be worthwhile to begin with a private Pilates session to get individualized attention and a more customized Pilates-based fitness program. You can also explore Pilates on your own and learn the Pilates basics with a beginners Pilates workout.

At MOVE Wellness, our memberships allow clients to individualize their experience by selecting from a movement menu of in-person, livestream, or on demand options, with the expert support you need to meet your goals.  

Ready to give Pilates a try?

Call us today at 734-224-2306 to learn more or start now online. We offer private training and small group classes in our Ann Arbor, Michigan studio. In addition, take classes from the comfort and privacy of your own home with MOVE Livestream and MOVE On Demand. There are even classes specifically focused on core exercises for men!

Booking Confirmation Class - Pilates Classes

Pilates is a whole-body exercise system that was created by fitness and conditioning enthusiast Joseph Pilates more than 85 years ago. Whatever your conditioning goal, Pilates is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension. While the exercises in this system work out the full body, there is a focus on breathing well and engaging the core muscles to support balanced and efficient movement. Pilates is suitable for all bodies at any stage of life. 

At MOVE Wellness we believe in community, in learning from one another, finding inspiration in our individual journeys, and supporting our clients and staff. We see so much growth within the larger Pilates community and a desire to honor the work as a system that can provide whole body health to those who practice it. The evolution and innovation of Pilates along with a strong desire to increase opportunities for everyone to access the system, makes it a great time to be a part of this industry. We do this work because we are a network of motivated individuals committed to changing lives through movement.

A group of men doing a Pilates Reformer class

What is Pilates Day?

As an industry, the Pilates community has a shared passion for the work that Joseph Pilates created. Pilates Day is a celebration of that work organized by the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). The PMA is a professional association for Pilates teachers whose mission is “to advance Pilates as a profession and to promote and perpetuate the teachings of Joseph H. and Clara Pilates.” Pilates Day is set aside annually for the community to come together and highlight this extraordinary movement system. Whether you participate by doing Pilates, teaching Pilates, hosting an event, or learning something new about Pilates, everyone is encouraged to join in and spread the word. It’s all about feeling connected to the Pilates community and celebrating a shared passion.

When is National Pilates Day?

Pilates Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in May. You can search online for events in your area. Or, celebrate at home with a free Pilates workout from MOVE Wellness. 

20 Minute Strengthen with Pilates with Laura
Strengthen with Pilates is a great way to build strength using Pilates principles. Join Laura for just 20 minutes to feel strong and supported in your own body in episode 1 of Strengthen with Pilates. No props needed! 

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Pilates can help strengthen the body and improve stability and mobility. These improved fitness levels can help prevent injury and give you greater ease of movement through a full range. This system can also relieve low back pain and the postural effects of sitting. It is a safe weight-bearing exercise that can mitigate symptoms of osteoporosis/osteopenia, and there is mounting research that Pilates supports a number of pathologies, postural issues, and is an effective method for whole body strengthening.

Whatever your conditioning goal, Pilates is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension.

Joseph Pilates said about the effects of his method, “10 sessions — feel the difference, 20 sessions — see the difference, 30 sessions — have a whole new body.”

MOVE Trainer Sarah Cohen doing a plank on the Pilates Reformer

Become a Pilates enthusiast any month of the year

It doesn’t need to be Pilates Day for you to try Pilates! MOVE Wellness offers Pilates classes and private training sessions all year round. Join us in-person at our Ann Arbor, Michigan studio, or online with MOVE On Demand and MOVE Livestream. You can also visit our YouTube channel for more free Pilates videos like the one above. 

Contact us today to sign up for an introductory private session or start a FREE 14 day trial of our livestream classes. We can help you design a Pilates program to help you meet your individual needs and goals.

pilates

Say hello to our new friend Revel

I am incredibly honored to be a part of Revel, a fast-growing, online community of women over forty. We’ve been offered an awesome opportunity to partner with Revel during the months of February and March... We’d love to see your friendly faces in our Revel classes. It’s free and easy to join.

—Elaine Economou

Revel + MOVE

We’re so excited to share that Revel is launching a special series of MOVE classes featuring Elaine Economou and Laura Tyson throughout February and March.

  • Movement Essentials-Pilates Level 1: Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
  • Barre Class: Wednesdays at Noon
  • Mindful Movement & Pilates: Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
  • Movement Essentials Pilates Level 2: Mondays at 1:00 p.m.

Beyond February and March, Elaine will continue hosting her monthly Workout Wednesday series on Revel. Join us on the last Wednesday of the month for a brief themed discussion and a Pilates-based class. You’ll learn how to challenge your unique and miraculous body safely and enjoy moving!

Revel will connect you with wonderful women with interests around a variety of topics beyond movement. Enjoy Revel’s recent blogpost “MOVE with Elaine Economou” with registration links for all classes at the end of the Q&A. Everything is free and it’s easy to join!

Starting out with Pilates: How to trust the process (and why you should)

We’re living in a “now” focused world. We can get groceries delivered in an hour and almost anything we want on our doorstep within a day or two. Google “five minute abs” and you’ll see dozens of workouts promising instant success. Starting out with Pilates is a process. I can cut to the chase and say without doubt that the process is absolutely worth it. You’ll get as strong as you want to do all the things you love in life. But you have to accept the invitation to trust the process to get there. 

For people who are new to Pilates or other mind-body systems such as GYROTONIC® exercise or yoga, it can be difficult to understand the impact and expectations around the movements. What are you supposed to feel? Too many times I’ve heard people give up too soon saying things like “I’m not sure I feel anything”, “this seems too easy”, or “I’m not sweating enough”. I sometimes wish I could impart a few key pieces of knowledge to them by osmosis to ease them through the bumps of those first few (sometimes confusing) sessions. 

What is Pilates?

Simply stated, Pilates is a series of exercises that can be done on a mat or specialized equipment. But it’s really so much more. Pilates is also a complete system of movement that can be applied to other fitness programs to make them more effective. This unique, whole body system was developed by forward-thinking visionary Joseph Pilates 100 years ago. It evolved throughout his lifetime and continues to do so today.

The goal of a Pilates session is to move through the repertoire of exercises at the level and pace that suits you. We’ll move your spine in all planes of motion and challenging your body with different relationships to gravity. The original Pilates exercises focused simply on the body and breathwork. Over time, various props and specialized equipment became integrated into the movement system. 

Getting started with Pilates

As you prepare to begin a Pilates practice, it’s important to start at the beginning to build the vocabulary and understand the concepts. Serious athletes may be able to jump into an advanced class and be able to do the movements, but without taking time to master the Pilates basics, their benefits will be limited by a lack of understanding and foundation. No one would try to build a skyscraper without a solid foundation.

As you feel the movement principles of Pilates in your own body you will start to connect to the organization of the exercises. This is when the magic starts to happen. As ability, strength, and coordination increase, we can add complexity and more challenges. You will see your strength, balance, and mobility improve with consistent practice and without the “no pain no gain” mentality that typically comes with fitness training. The best part is that everything you love to do will get easier, including regular, daily life. 

Trusting the process in Pilates

So how do you get there? Understanding some common truths can lead to a much smoother experience of learning the movements, breathing, expectations, and coordination to maximize the impact of this work. After more than twenty years of teaching Pilates here a few things I know to be true for people at any age or stage when meeting this work:

1. Everyone gets it.

Yep, if you show up consistently you will learn to connect the breath, movement, and coordination to execute the exercises. Happens every time. In Pilates we use breathing to connect to muscular activation of tissues and breathing optimally brings tone to the deep support structures of the trunk. Most importantly, it brings awareness into the body and is a tool to help you start to become more aware of your body as it moves.

People feel unsure and worry that they are inhaling and exhaling at all the wrong times. Or, clients might come in for a session and think why are we spending so much time *just* breathing? Your trainer can help with a plan just for you and there’s a reason behind everything you’re doing. I promise that everyone can learn to move and breathe at the same time.

2. It’s not your typical workout.

Pilates is a system of mindful movement. It requires the act of listening to your body to help you organize the movement organically. Joseph Pilates said “It is the mind itself which shapes the body.” He didn’t mean that you bench pressed a ton of weight, but that you build the awareness you need to move the body with ease, strength and control. That control comes not from a performative execution of exercises, but from noticing what is happening in your unique body. Understanding the body in relationship to its various parts is what allows for successful coordination of complex movements.

In a small fitness studio like MOVE Wellness, your trainer will ask questions about how and what you feel while executing movements. The idea is to listen, notice, and connect — both trainer and client — based on what the trainer sees and on the client’s goals. While we teach specific movement practices like Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise, barre and yoga at our studio, the goal is to use those forms to empower people of any age and fitness level to be strong, healthy and capable of moving in ways that make them happy — walking, running, gardening, crafting, dancing, morel mushroom foraging, or whatever it may be.

3. It’s not one size fits all.

When you show up for a Pilates session, we’re going to meet your body where it’s at. It can be tempting to come in looking for a quick fix. And easy to be impatient for the twinge in your back or the ache in your knees to resolve immediately. But all of this work will be done within the level that’s right for your body, and your age and stage of life. I often say that we are working at the pace of the client’s body, not their mind. In our quick results oriented culture, the deep efficiency of our work is moving in relationship with your body, not against it.

Your body is unique, with issues and alignment specific to you. Pilates trainers certified by the NPCP have done rigorous training that means they can help support a variety of pathologies or postural issues. It can be tough after just one session to feel totally different in your body. At first it might feel too easy while you adjust to a different type of sensation. It will quickly become a full body workout once the coordination and capacity for listening and feeling the movement in our body occurs. Change takes time. Part of the work is committing to regular movement so that you actually give yourself the chance to see noticeable change. Through the practice of Pilates, you will increase understanding of your own body and how to care for it through movement.

4. It can be a vulnerable process.

We know that people come to us with so many layers of our culture’s imprint in their psyche about their body. It is a privilege to be with our clients and help them have an enjoyable experience moving. Pilates offers something for everyone and for every body. We will optimize your body for what you love to do in life and bring ease and balance to support that. It’s about more than being defined by just musculature — it’s thinking about fitness as resilience.

This is so different from the messages we get daily in our culture. We are told that doing all those crunches for core strength will flatten your belly or help your back pain. But what if your back pain is due to something happening with your feet or neck? What if doing all those crunches to get an abdominal six pack pulls your pelvic floor so taut that you start to have incontinence? Pilates is a whole body system of movement. We’ll focus on individual postural issues that help each person unravel their own unique muscular imbalances to create healthy movement patterns.

Nothing gives us more pleasure than when a client jumps up and says that the time flew by and they feel great!

5. There are no shortcuts.

You have to go through the forest. That’s something I like to say to my clients and instructor trainees. What I mean is that Pilates is a process of organizing movement and embodying the principles of human movement. There’s not a straight, paved path from your starting point to your end goal. Think of the body as a system. We will target the whole system to move optimally, not just one muscle. It can take a lot of time and patience to make progress.

It takes intentional movement to build strength and understand your own body. Along this journey, you will challenge yourself with more complex movements and layer in resistance from the Pilates equipment or your own body weight. You will learn to identify and overcome your own personal tendencies and compensations to optimize your movements. The goal is to build up to a full body workout that uses pace, weight and complexity to effectively meet the needs of your unique body.

Start your own Pilates journey

This is a process, and I encourage clients to trust it. It will not be the pace of the mind but it will be the pace of your unique body. Building the deep strength and organization to support your goals is an act of listening and building awareness of the needs of your body moment by moment. Trusting the process means showing up, committing to the work, and having confidence in the journey.

Pilates can be an ideal fitness program for a wide range of people at a variety of ages and stages. Get started with the movement essentials from the comfort of your home. Or, schedule an introductory session with one of our professional trainers.

Getting Started with Gentle Pilates

Beginning a new fitness routine can be intimidating, especially for people who are older, injured, or just getting started with movement. To get stronger and build healthy habits, you need to find a system that you enjoy and works well for your body — but where do you start?

A whole-body exercise method like Pilates is a great option for beginners because it is suitable for all bodies and every stage of life. It is a safe and effective way to improve your core strength, stability, and flexibility. 

The different Pilates levels help structure the exercises to make sure you’re learning the essentials before moving safely to more challenging movements. For people starting out, this often begins with gentle Pilates classes so they can learn how to do beginner-level exercises with good form. These require less strength and coordination than more advanced levels.

Get started with a Pilates introductory session or explore our MOVE On Demand offering online, Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life

What is gentle Pilates?

In these fitness classes, clients practice the principles of Pilates to help them build the foundation for a successful Pilates experience. You will use modifications and work at a pace appropriate for your postural and health issues. 

Gentle Pilates classes might be focused on balance or mobility so that you gain an understanding of your body and begin a gentle exploration of correct movement, with particular emphasis on breath control, abdominal support, and pelvic/spinal alignment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a beginner do Pilates?

Yes, Pilates is for everybody! Anyone can benefit from doing Pilates, including older people, people who haven’t worked out before, and people just coming out of physical therapy with injuries. 

Read our beginner’s guide to Pilates here.

Is Pilates gentle exercise?

Pilates can be done in its most basic form gently and simply, with the option of adding complexity and more challenging exercises as ability, strength, and coordination increase. Anyone who wants increased core and overall strength, fewer injuries, better coordination, and better muscle function can and should do Pilates.

How often should I do Pilates?

We recommend practicing Pilates three times per week to see the most rapid change in your body. However, we recognize that time and finances can be a barrier. We can work with you to create a customized plan that meets your needs.

How do I get started with Pilates?

At MOVE Wellness, our clients start with an introductory Pilates session so we can assess your current fitness level and learn more about your goals and interests. This helps us create a customized movement plan and recommend next steps. 

For those who prefer to workout from home (or aren’t located in the Ann Arbor area), MOVE Wellness also offers an online 28-day program, Movement Essentials: Gentle Pilates for Everyday Life, through our MOVE On Demand service.