Updated: Oct 23, 2019
Whether you are new to Pilates or a seasoned pro, there are some mistakes that even instructors are making. Here are some key things to keep in mind and avoid.
1. Don't stop before the move does.
Pilates centers around alignment - that means controlling every single part of you body. Joseph Pilates called it Contrology, not Pilates for a big reason! The position of your feet, your hands; everything is important. If you have taken my classes, I know I have annoyed you with this. ;) In particular it's your head, your rib cage, and your pelvis because they are your three main body weights. If you control those, you are using your centre well.
You need to check your alignment before, during and after finishing the move. You should always start the way you finished.
2. Bracing, NOT Breathing
Pilates uses different styles of breathing. The main one is called lateral, thoracic which involves breathing into your sides which keeps you from using your diaphragm muscle to brace or stabilize. Pilates' secret is to multi-task your breathing muscles to move. And don't ever hold your breath.....the brain is the first organ to shut down and we need it to facilitate the movement too!
3. Always using your Pelvic Floor
Time and again, people just activate and "squeeze" with EVERY move. Less is more. Only use your muscles when and IF you need them to control movement, alignment or flow. It's a learned skill and should always be "reactive" to what load you are putting on a particular part of your body.
4. Faking your No honey, not tonight muscles.
It is hard to know if you are working your pelvic floor correctly. Some people call it the Pelvic Floor zip where you feel like you are zipping up from back to front. (Yes, your taint ;) I tend to call them your "No honey, not tonight muscles".
First, make sure you haven't tipped your pelvis. Next, make sure you are not squeezing your bum or your calves or (God forbid) gritting your teeth!
It should feel like you are pulling in your stomach to put on a seat belt or zip up pants. Definitely make sure nothing is ever bulging or you are recruiting incorrect muscles and will end up with a tree trunk and not the desired hour glass for a core.
5. Doing the moves you like, not the ones you need.
I say it all the time in class...."It's usually the moves that are the hardest that are the ones you need the most". Those are the muscles that need love and attention to keep you balanced. It's not about overtaxing them....it's about saying "hello" to them and wake them up.
6. Thinking strong abs = Strong Pelvic Floor
Your abs are mainly between your hips and ribs. Your pelvic floor make up the hammock between your legs that keep everything inside. Only pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor.
7. Pulling your neck to do the work for your abs.
When you have your hands behind your head, use them for support. Your elbows should be out of view and your head should feel heavy. If you are kyphotic or "head forward", be especially careful as you lower your head down. No thunking!
8. Treating it like a competition.
Looking at the person next to you to figure which move the class is doing is totally normal. But it stops there. When you come to a class, it is just you and your equipment. You want to work as a team....not against everyone else.
9. Plank obsession
Guess what? There is NOOOOOO Pilates exercise called the plank! No position in Pilates is ever held, we're about movement.
10. Rushing the move or using momentum
It is actually harder to do something slower. Focus and work slowly and precisely.