How do you do Pilates at home for beginners
How nice would it be if you never had to sweat and feel pain every time you work out? Many people will probably be more drawn towards a healthy and active lifestyle if only that was possible. Oh wait, but IT IS possible. You read that right; a no-sweat, no-pain exercise is now something you can do. You might ask, “But how?” Well, with Pilates of course!
By “no-sweat” and “no-pain” we mean that Pilates is not an exercise you will hate the next day. There will still be some sweating, but more often than not, you won’t be dripping wet after a Pilates routine. You are also unlikely to feel soreness the same way you would after a burpee or a deadlift. But while this exercise sounds too relaxed, the wonders it can do to your body are endless.
Interested but not quite convinced yet? Keep reading.
If many people were already struggling to begin an active lifestyle pre-COVID, it is even more of a challenge now with the ongoing pandemic keeping people at home and gyms closed. But the good thing about Pilates is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home, and you won’t even need too much fancy equipment to get started. Ideal for beginners? Very much so.
But what exactly is Pilates?
Pilates is a low intensity resistance exercise that utilizes gravity and your own bodyweight to perform controlled movements that improve flexibility, endurance, and physical strength. The movements are specifically designed to focus mainly on the core to achieve correct postural alignment that will condition the entire body throughout the exercise.
Pilates also helps build stronger and more sculpted muscles for a sleek and toned figure without the excess bulk. So whoever said you can only gain muscles by doing countless reps of lifting weights obviously never heard of this exercise.
Pilates for beginners
There are two kinds of Pilates classes: mat classes and equipment-based classes. For beginners, mat classes are the recommended kind because the only thing you need is—you guessed it right—a mat. Just find some area at home spacious enough for you to fully outstretch your body and you’re all set.
But while performing Pilates on a mat seems to be the easier and more convenient option, it can also be challenging at times.
In Pilates studios where equipment-based classes are normally held, you have the tools to assist you in doing some of the movements. You don’t have this luxury when you are doing Pilates at home, and since you have limitations, you will be forced to engage your core without any help. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because your abdominal muscles working double time just means you are making them stronger even harder.
Still not convinced? Try this sample beginner Pilates exercise you can do at home and see (or feel) for yourself.
Arms and spine stretches
- Lie down on a mat with your back flat on the ground, your arms on the sides, and your knees bent with your feet flat on the ground.
- Inhale and exhale for a few seconds then slowly extend your arms all the way over your head while breathing in as you do this.
- Slowly bring your arms back to the sides while breathing out.
- Repeat the movement 10 times.
- In the last position where your arms are outstretched over your head, slowly lift your hips and back while maintaining your shoulders in contact with the mat. Keep your hips and spine straight so that they form a “bridge.”
- Bring your arms back to the sides then lower your hips and back to the ground. Make sure to do this slowly so you feel your spine being articulated.
- Repeat the movement 10 times.
- Hold the last position with your hips and back lifted and your arms outstretched over your head. Then bring your arms back to the sides and outstretch them again over your head without lowering your hips and back.
- Repeat this movement 10 times.
- Lower your hips and back then put your hands behind your head with your thumbs at the base of your skull.
- Do a crunch by slowly lifting your shoulder off the mat.
- Then while in a crunch position, twist to one side and then back to the center. Then twist to the other side and then back to the center again and then lower your shoulder back to the mat.
- Fold your right leg with your hands tucked just behind your knee and bring it in towards your chest, then extend the other leg all the way out.
- Extend the folded leg all the way up and then fold it back.
- Bring the folded knee to the left while you look to the right and your arms outstretched in that direction as well. Then bring it back to center, tuck your hands behind your knee and stretch your leg upward again to brace yourself for the leg circles.
- To do leg circles, bring the outstretched leg down the center then around to the right and then back down to the center. Make sure the movement is controlled and that no other body part is moving aside from your leg. Do it 5 times in that direction, then another 5 counterclockwise.
- Then hug your knee in and do steps 14-16 with the other leg.
Sweep to circles
- Lift both your legs in a 90-90 position, and then stretch one leg out then back in, and then the other leg out then back in.
- Hug your knees in and then roll to the side. In this position, your head could be on your outstretched arm or on your hands while your elbow is bent. Your bottom leg should be bent while the leg on top is extended all the way out.
- Pull the toes of your extended legs towards you, and then sweep that leg forward. Pause then point your toes and bring your leg back to its initial position. Imagine that there is an invisible table you are sliding your leg on so that you are mentally aware not to drop nor lift your leg. Do this movement 5 times.
- Once your leg is back to the initial position, bring it forward again, then up, and then around to do a circle. Repeat 5 times then do another 5 counterclockwise.
- After that, perform 10 little pulses then do steps 19-21 with the other leg.
Full body stretches
- Lay on the mat face down with your legs hip-width apart, arms bent and hands right underneath the shoulders, and your nose and forehead slightly in contact with the mat.
- Slowly lift your chest off the mat while breathing in, and then bring it back down to the ground while fully stretching your legs.
- Then extend your arms all the way forward while you keep stretching your legs out as well. Lift your head and let your legs and arms hover slightly above the ground then start kicking your arms and feet alternately for 10 seconds.
- Once done, go back to the center with your feet mat distance apart and your hands underneath your shoulders again.
- Then press all the way up, lifting your chest, belly, and hips. Draw your belly in and slowly press back to a child’s pose.
The wonders of Pilates
Some people may find it hard to believe that such simple movements come packed with a multitude of benefits, and that is exactly the beauty of Pilates: you think there isn’t too much effort going on but the reality is that there are so many things happening to your body throughout the exercise.
But what else is good about Pilates?
Pilates can be done by anyone regardless of age and gender. There are plenty of movements which can be combined for you to come up with a routine that is tailor-fit to your needs.
The main emphasis of Pilates is core strength. But not only does it activate the core, it also utilizes your arms and legs for control which improves your overall balance and coordination as well.
Total body awareness
One of the main components of Pilates is the connection between mind and body and the overall awareness of how your body moves. As a result, you become more aware of the placement and movement of each and every bone and muscle in your body during your routine.
Similar to yoga, Pilates focuses on the proper way of breathing. As you inhale deeper, you provide your body with more oxygen that increases your energy levels. This is why most of the time, people who do Pilates feel more energized, peaceful, and relaxed after their routine.
Ready, set, stretch!
Now that you have an idea of what Pilates is, what it does to your body, and how to do it, don’t waste any more time being a couch potato! Lay that mat on the ground and get those muscles stretched and strengthened. The best time to start is always now. You’ve already lost one unproductive year to the pandemic; will you let another one go to waste?