How to Know If You’re Doing Pilates Right

Pilates is a unique balance of strength, stretch, reach, contract and flow.  Pilates exercises are easy to make look “right.” I like to think its because Pilates is designed to make everything you are already doing in life better. So, the moves are not crazy (well ok some look bit crazy) they are natural movements our bodies should be able to do.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • January 18, 2018
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Pilates is a unique balance of strength, stretch, reach, contract and flow.  Pilates exercises are easy to make look “right.” I like to think its because Pilates is designed to make everything you are already doing in life better. So, the moves are not crazy (well ok some look bit crazy) they are natural movements our bodies should be able to do.

Like most workouts and group classes it’s easy to go into the room and do the choreography. But, unlike most workouts when you do Pilates exercises to look correct or to look like the person next to you there is a strong chance you are not feeling it in the right places.

So, if the exercises look right how do you know if you are doing them correctly? What are some ways to ensure you are doing Pilates correctly?

First, let me say that if it feels easy or it doesn’t make sense you are probably missing the concept of the exercise or some muscular connection. That doesn’t mean that if everything you are doing in Pilates is super hard, your muscles are burning and you are sweating that you are doing it right. But, that every exercise is part of a workout and should feel like you are working.

Second, not every exercise is good for everybody. There are 500+ exercises in Pilates. Some will be ideal for you and others will not be. Or, you may need to build your way up to those exercises.

Here are some tips for navigating your way through your own Pilates practice

  1. Connect: If you are on your mat pay attention to what body parts are touching that mat. Without bearing down how can you use the mat to support or assist you with the exercise? As you rolled up did you touch the mat the whole way up or skip a few spots along the way? When you are on the Reformer or any other piece of equipment with springs how can you tell the springs the rate to close? As you move through your exercises are you partnering up with the equipment or fighting it? Pilates is not just about connecting to your muscles but also connecting to the apparatus to support you and challenge you.
  2. Ask Questions: My Youtube channel has loads of “how-to” videos as well as practice tip videos. If you’ve been trying to “get” an exercise and just can’t seem to find it in your body check out my playlists for the mini version on how to do it. Then if you have questions use the comments space to connect with me.
  3. Practice Regularly: my online mat classes here and Pilates Anytime are amazing resources for maintaining your Pilates practice. One way to know if you’re doing Pilates correctly is to keep doing it. If the beginning exercises get tougher then you are on the right track. If they seem to be getting easier you are missing something. Use LLOGAN for 30-day free trial to Pilates Anytime and register here for $5/ week mat classes with me.
  4. Private Session: I get that having regular Private Pilates sessions is not always possible. But, at least one here and there to supplement the online, group or home practice you are doing is essential. To find an instructor near you check out my tips here. Or, contact me for an online Private session via Skype or Facetime.
  5. Trust and Consistency: Pilates is a practice. I repeat, Pilates is a practice. It’s not a Perfect. If you continue to show up regularly for your Pilates it will tell you if you are doing it right.

If you find yourself in a mat class or taking a class online at home and you are wondering if you are doing it right just remember that the person next to you might not be doing it perfectly. And, as I mentioned above it is not about being perfect. Rather, it’s about being connected to your own body, to your equipment. And, something you’ll discover in your Pilates journey is that the feeling in each exercise is quite personal to you. Your fingers and toes might not be doing the choreography perfectly but you can still be doing the exercise right.

Challenge your Pilates practice with me this week! Register for my weekly class and feel the mat beneath your body.

Pilates is a Practice. Remind yourself that whenever you wonder “Am I doing this right?”

xx~LL

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
Enjoying Lesley's teaching style? Willing to travel? Explore the world while maintaining your practice by joining Lesley on a Pilates retreat.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are “affiliate links”, a link with a special tracking code. This means if you click on an affiliate link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. The price of the item is the same whether it is an affiliate link or not. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers. By using the affiliate links, you are helping support our Website, and we genuinely appreciate your support. By watching this video, you agree to our Terms and Conditions, which you can read here:https://opc.me/tc

2 comments

  1. I recently started doing mat Pilates with Pilates cards that I got from Amazon. I’m a beginner, and prefer to workouts on my own. Finding this information gave me confirmation that I’m doing it right even though sometimes my hips would move slightly out of the alignment.

    Since Pilates is slow, can you still reap the benefits of it even if your doing at a slow paced manner?

    1. Hey Patricia, when you’re learning Pilates the pace might be slow. But, its important that you don’t move too slow. Those little muscles that we use to do Pilates don’t have as much endurance as our bigger dominant muscles. So, as you can pick up the pace and try to remain in control. I have an intro series and weekly all level classes that can help you see the pace you want to work with on onlinepilatesclasses.com. This is a great question! xx

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pop up summer tour | online pilates classes

SUCH A TEASE

ONLINE MAT & REFORMER PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,

xx~LL

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

UP, UP, & AWAY

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.

xx-LL

STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Backstroke…the ultimate Middle Exercise! From our chest to our knees, front and back, we have to work our “Middle” in coordination to make The Backstroke happen. We’ll use a small ball on the Reformer and light weights on the Mat to help find our connection to this exercise.

See you in class,
Tami

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, a small ball and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE A 100 PARTY

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

So many people don't love the 100. But the 100 is an incredible exercise that when you know all its capabilities can be something you might look forward to...maybe even like a little bit. Or a lot!

We often wonder why the 100 is the first exercise. I mean, it's got a lot going on for a warm up. To me it's a survey, a feedback, a mirror to how our body is doing that day. And, how cool it is to know how your body is feeling as you go into your practice. This way you can explore what your body needs in other exercises.

Let's explore what the 100 is telling us and how to make it our own each day!

No props needed.

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    STAND BY ME

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    The key to longevity is being able to get down to the ground and up again with as little assistance as possible. In this weeks class we are going to focus on how to stand in your feet no matter where they are in space.

    On the Mat we will have a playful ending that Joseph Pilates would do!

    The Reformer we’ll end challenging ourselves standing on our carriage. (Options to do the exercises off the Reformer too!)

    No props needed.

    See ya in class,

    xx~LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    FRENEMIES

    Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Hello, it's OPC Teacher Christine here! I used to get commended for my form and flexibility in any type of movement class I went to, even if it was my very first class. But what I struggled with was always hitting a plateau where I couldn't make progress or improvement. For me, that changed when I discovered the strength and control I found in practicing Pilates.

    Getting on the apparatuses puts your body in a position where you find strength, stretch, and control through your center. I was unable to fold my body like origami anymore. One of the mat exercises - double leg stretch - is great for finding a strong center regardless of what the arms and legs are doing.

    For this month, we'll explore using the concept of finding an inner lift of the belly away from the thighs to find a strength in our center, the two-way stretch of the limbs, while controlling the movement of the arms and legs whether they move away from center, or come back to center.

    Mat class: Magic Circle and squishy ball

    See you in class,

    Christine

    HIGH FIVE FOR ALL

    ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

    In Pilates we often talk about the 5 spinal shapes… do you know them? No worries if you don’t yet as this month we’re going to explore them all! How tall, round, extended, rotated or bent from our sides that we can be gives us more power & control during exercise. Let’s see what we can feel when we put the focus on working toward these particular shapes… And, lookout for combo shapes!"

    On the Reformer, please have a ball, Magic Circle and your pole. A couple of pillows and a Swiffer handle all make great substitutes!
    Mat, Tower/Cadillac and Wunda Chair: No props needed.

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

    BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Yes, we are focusing on Horseback in this week's workout. But, we are also giving a celebration to all of us who might be back in our Pilates saddle again. Or, maybe you've been in the Saddle but stuck in the mud. This weeks workout its designed to be a positive play time with an exercise many of us avoid and one that we may never get. But, hey, it's always fun to be out where a friend is a friend - get it? If you know the song you do!

    Mat: Theraband and light weights
    Reformer: no props needed

    xx~LL

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Theraband, light weights and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.