And Now For The FAQ's…

If you haven't yet read our "5 Essential Questions when Considering a Pilates Studio", please 1st review them here; get answers to other frequently asked questions, as well as get the scoop Pilates myths and urban legends:

Your 5 Essential Questions:

  1. Is Pilates right for me?
  2. What is the best way to get started with Pilates?
  3. How often should I workout?
  4. A Pilates Teacher is a Pilates Teacher is a Pilates Teacher?

More FAQ's

  1. How is Pilates different from other forms of exercise?
  2. How is it different/similar to Yoga?
  3. I have heard about the "Six Principles of Pilates" – Can you explain?
  4. What is a typical beginning Pilates exercise like?
  5. Is Pilates a cardiovascular workout?
  6. Many claim that Pilates reshapes the body. How does it do this?
  7. Do I need to be fit to begin Pilates?
  8. What age group is Pilates for? Is the Pilates method suited for Seniors?
  9. How long before I will notice results?
  10. Does the Pilates method benefit posture?
  11. Will I lose weight through Pilates exercises?
  12. Can I do Pilates if I'm pregnant?
  13. I have a back problem – will Pilates help me?
  14. Why is Pilates considered a mind/body conditioning program?
  15. OK – I like what I'm hearing and seeing, but those Pilates machines…they sort of look like torture devices!?!
  16. What's better, the Equipment or Mat Classes?
  17. Any other questions we haven't covered? We're all ears.


And now, to separate Fact from Fiction:


FAQ's Answers

  1. Is Pilates right for me?
    The low impact nature of the Pilates workout, coupled with its emphasis on the quality of movement (rather than endless repetitions to the point of fatigue), makes Pilates perfect for any age, body type or fitness level. If you have chronic pain or are rehabbing from an injury or surgery, private sessions, are advised; likewise, we offer Structural Integration bodywork (sometimes referred to as "Rolfing") to augment your Pilates sessions, and accelerate your road to recovery.
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  2. What is the best way to get started with Pilates?
    Pilates requires a thorough understanding of its foundation principles, before moving onto a flowing "workout" class. However, most studios or gyms will put Pilates newcomers directly into a "workout" class, with way too many students of varying levels of ability. What you have is, at best, a very poor learning experience; at worst, an unsafe situation. That's why you will begin your training at the PCA in a small class environment (5-8 participants) with only beginning students. 
    You'll start your training with an "Beginning" to Pilates Series (Class or Private session – choose what's best for you), where you'll work with both Mat and Reformer (the focal piece of Pilates equipment). From there, you will move onto our Basic, Intermediate and Advanced workout flow classes and sessions.
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  3. How often should I workout?
    The benefits you can achieve with Pilates are no less than profound. Core Strength…Toning & Sculpting… Flexibility…Postural Alignment… Stamina…Long, lean, muscle…Relief of Chronic Back, Neck and Joint Pain. It's no wonder fitness experts are hailing Pilates as the "Perfect Workout".
    To best realize these benefits, it is very important that a newcomer exercise under trained supervision for a minimum of 2-3 times a week, especially in the formative stages. Allow yourself 12 weeks for the re-patterning of your muscle movement to take effect.
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  4. A Pilates Teacher is a Pilates Teacher is a Pilates Teacher?
    …Not! Pilates is so much more than just a fitness craze…and it's sweeping the nation. That's the good… and sometimes, the not-so-good…news. Because, with this massive popularity, many teachers are being "developed" with very little professional training.
    Our International organization, The Pilates Method Alliance stipulates a minimum of 450 credit hours in a recognized Teacher Training before one is considered a comprehensively trained instructor. The training undertaken by the teachers at the Pilates Center of Austin far exceeds the requirement set forth by the PMA, making our teachers some of the most extensively trained in the country.
    This means that, besides knowing how to instruct you in a vast repertoire of exercises, the philosophy and theory behind each movement, spend considerable time observing and mastering proper form and sequences, and apprentice to fine tune their teaching skills prior to taking a rigorous written and practical exam.
    At the PCA, your Pilates Teacher will teach you much more than just a series of exercises, they will ongoingly assess your optimal form and posture, instruct you how to adapt exercises for your particular body type and condition, and customize the optimum Pilates program for you. The bottom line: Pilates instruction can produce profound results if you choose wisely.
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  5. How is Pilates different from other forms of exercise
    Pilates is a system of over 500 exercises that engage the mind, and condition the whole body. It is a balanced blend of strength and flexibility training that improves posture, reduces stress and creates long, lean muscles without bulking up. Pilates works the entire body simultaneously through smooth, continuous motion, with a particular concentration on the intrinsic core support of breath for the body's "powerhouse" (abdomen, back and pelvic girdle region).
    Pilates is distinct from most exercise regimens because it's low-impact and addresses the body as a whole. Pilates takes a balanced approach so that no muscle group is overworked and the body works as an efficient, holistic system in sport and daily activity. The focus is on quality of movement rather than quantity, which makes one feel invigorated rather than exhausted after a session. Pilates exercises can be performed on a mat or on specialized equipment such as a Reformer, Cadillac, Chair and Ladder Barrel.
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  6. How is it different/similar to Yoga?
    Joseph Pilates was inspired by both eastern and western forms while developing his method, so there are many similarities between Pilates and Yoga. Attention to breath is critical with both Yoga and Pilates. More and more Pilates teachers are adopting the nasal breathing that is integral to yoga. We, at the Pilates Center of Austin, have been at the forefront of espousing this as a far more efficient, centering and healing, which creates deep support for the spine, without over-stabilizing.
    Some forms of yoga emphasize the holding of a posture for an extending period of time; others, a continuously flowing format. Pilates is more similar to the Yoga forms that practice a continuously flowing movement.
    A critical difference between the two rests with two important distinctions:
    1. Pilates emphasis on the development of deep, internal core strength to support the whole body. A word about "core". This term has become a buzzword in the fitness world. There is, however, widespread misunderstanding of what "core" strength is , even in the Pilates community. When Pilates teachers refer to "core", they are definitely not talking about 6 pack abs – these are superficial muscles, and add little to the true strength and structural integrity of the body. However, Pilates students are often mis-taught to access "core" by "gripping the abdominals"…this can lead to all sorts of internal problems, due to the stomach and legs being overworked. On the other hand, when Pilates is taught from a whole body perspective of core awareness, understanding the bodies' vital core relationships, our bodies become stronger, more facile, adept…but, ultimately, self-healing.
    2. The second difference between Pilates and Yoga rests with how the exercises, themselves, are performed. Pilates exercises are augmented with a brilliant array of spring-based equipment that provide both assistance and resistance, giving the practitioner a powerful new access to clarifying and strengthening those areas that are weak.
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  7. I have heard about the "Six Principles of Pilates" – Can you explain?
    These six principles were delineated by Philip Friedman and Gail Eisen in their book " The Pilates Method of Physical and Mental Conditioning", and are cited as follows: Concentration, Control, Centering, Fluidity, Precision and Breath.
    Since this book was published in 1980, we have learned so much more about "whole body health and movement". As a result, these "principles" have been updated and further refined by 1st generation Pilates teachers who studied directly with Joseph Pilates along with 2nd and 3rd generation students who, together, in 2001 founded the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA), the professional association and certifying agency for Pilates teachers. These revised principles are as follows:
    PMA Guiding Pilates Principles:
    1. Whole Body Health
      1. "Physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure:"
      2. Whole body health refers to the development of the body, the mind and the spirit in complete coordination with each other. Mr. Pilates wrote that the Whole Body Health could be achieved through exercise, proper diet, good hygiene and sleeping habits, plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and a balance in life of work, recreation and relaxation.
    2. Whole Body Commitment
      1. "To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life, we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limit of our ability."
      2. "Faithfully perform your Contrology exercises only 4 times a week for just 3 months…you will find your body development approaching the ideal, accompanied by renewed mental vigor and spiritual enhancement."
      3. Whole body commitment is mental and physical discipline, a work ethic, an attitude toward one's self and assuming a lifestyle that is necessary to achieve Whole Body Health
    3. Breath
      1. The breath is an integral part of overall body functioning, increasing volume capacity, oxygenation and other physiological changes. Full consistent inhalation and exhalation helps the circulatory system nourish all the tissues with oxygen-rich blood while carrying away impurities and metabolic waste. Pilates referred to this cleansing mechanism as the "internal shower" which resulted in mental and physical invigoration and rejuvenation.

    PMA Movement Principles

    1. Whole Body Movement
    2. Breathing
    3. Balanced Muscle Development
    4. Concentration
    5. Control
    6. CenteringPrecision
    7. Precision
    8. Rhythm

    The body is organized to move by Centering. Balanced Muscle Development allows efficient movement and proper joint mechanics. Focused mental Concentration is required to fully develop the body. Precision, meaning exact, defined, specific, intentional movement, is necessary for correct form. Only a few repetitions of each exercise are appropriate so that each repetition can be performed with the greatest Control, using only the necessary muscles and effort necessary for each movement. Breathing promotes natural movement and Rhythm and stimulates muscles to greater activity. Performance of the Pilates exercises is distinguished by always using the WHOLE BODY.
    These Guiding Principles and Movement Principles facilitate long-term goal achievement. The Benefits are both measureable and perceived:

    1. Coordination
    2. Strength
    3. Mobility
    4. Efficient movement
    5. Flowing movement
    6. Proper posture
    7. Mental and spiritual rejuvenation
    8. Self-awareness
    9. Self-confidence
    10. Restoration of natural animal movement
    11. Integration of mind, body & spirit
    12. Sense of wellbeing
    13. Enhanced quality of life
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  8. What is a typical beginning Pilates exercise like?
    The first exercise you might do is "the hundreds" which consists of 10 breaths of 10 counts to equal 100. You lie on the floor, bend your knees over your hips, reach your arms long by your sides and curl forward as you exhale. While holding your legs in the air, inhale into your back, then feel your exhale engage your abdominals, as you stay forward. Then pump your arms by your side, almost as if you were slapping lightly on water, inhaling for 5 pumps, exhaling for 5 pumps, for "100" breaths!

    Because both your legs and upper body are off the mat, it increases the circulation of blood and lymph throughout your body, stimulating your organs making this movement both an internal and an external workout
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  9. Is Pilates a cardiovascular workout? 
    Initially the workout is slow moving because, in order to create a re-patterning of old habits by the nervous system, it is necessary to slow down and become AWARE of what the weakness, problem or repetitive pattern is in order to change it. With regular practice, whether at the Basic, Intermediate or Advanced level, when the movements are flowing seamlessly from one to the other, it can become aerobic.
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  10. Many claim that Pilates reshapes the body. How does it do this?
    Pilates has completely transformed my body and the bodies of most of our clients, as you will see and hear in our client videos. What is most important is a willingness to commit to a program that supports your vision for living a healthy, vital life. As you are learning new ways of moving, it is important to come in for classes or privates at least 2x a week, and taking time daily for a home practice. When you truly commit yourself, your body can change at any age or fitness level, which will reshape your way of thinking and your body.
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  11. What age group is Pilates for? Is it suitable for Seniors?.
    Pilates can be beneficial for virtually all ages, fitness levels and body conditions. Indeed, one of the beauties of Pilates is that we tailor it to suit each personage and physical condition. Many of our clients are middle-aged or elderly. Indeed, more than a few start doing Pilates specifically because they have reached 'a certain age', realized that they no longer do any exercise and suddenly thought, 'My goodness, I have to start to do something, or else I'll fall apart'.

    Pilates can be like a bridge between physical fitness and physical therapy, and can be adapted, modified and customized for individual needs. Pilates will meet you where you are. Also, one's chronological age doesn't necessarily limit one's movement capabilities - some 75 year olds can perform intermediate exercises on the Cadillac, while there are those in their 20's who struggle with a simple roll up. 

    While older clients may have to start more slowly, many seniors do Pilates into their eighties and nineties. A properly tailored Pilates program is one of the best-known ways to ward off the infirmities of old age. Your true age, in the end, of course, is as much a function of how you feel as it is of the date on your birth certificate. As Joseph Pilates himself put it: 'If, at the age of 30, you are stiff and out of shape, you are old. If, at 60, you are supple and strong, then you are young.'
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  12. When will I notice results?
    Results will vary from client to client. You will reap the rewards based on the amount of effort you put in. If done consistently, 2-3 classes per week, Pilates will deliver significant results for an average person within 12 sessions. Of course, the results also depend on the number of classes each week, and whether they have any existing injuries.

    Practicing Pilates on a regular basis will help you to achieve a healthier body and mind. You can expect to, improve flexibility and.

    Physically you can expect to:

    • Increase mobility and flexibility, especially in the low back, shoulders, and hips
    • build long, strong muscles
    • Improve balance and coordination
    • Decrease back pain and stiffness
    • Improve your posture
    • Tone your abdominals and strengthen your back
    • Shorten recovery time following strenuous activity
    • lessen your chance for injuries
    • Create breath awareness
    • Lose both inches and weight, when practiced along with a healthy diet and some cardio
  1. Do I need to be fit to begin Pilates?
    There is no pre-requisite on your fitness level. You can begin Pilates classes anytime, at any fitness level. That's the beauty. Pilates meets you wherever you are – at any age or fitness level!
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  2. Does the Pilates method benefit posture?
    Yes! Thanks to its awareness building principles, practicing Pilates on a daily basis re-invigorates all the systems of your body, and tones the internal spinal integrity which supports your posture from foot to head.
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  3. Will I lose weight through Pilates exercises?
    Please visit our Weight Loss page on this site on this site. Pilates, at the Basic level, is not a cardiovascular workout and burning calories is not it's main focus. However, as one moves into intermediate and more advanced levels, in conjunction with a sensible diet, augmented with some aerobic exercise, such as moderate walking, bicycling, dancing or swimming, Pilates can, indeed be a significant player in your weight loss program.

    But here's an added benefit of Pilates that everybody loves: you will strengthen, sculpt and tone your body while building long, lean muscles. Even before you achieve your optimal weight, you will tend to look and feel better through continued Pilates practice.

    Is the Pilates method suited for Seniors?
    Absolutely. Please visit our SeniorFit™ page on this site. There's no age limit in the practice of Pilates… because it's gentler on the joints, while strengthens and creates flexibility. Which is why it's so often called the "perfect workout for a lifetime". Having a whole body movement practice that translates to being vital and strong in your everyday movements, especially as you age, is the goal of practicing Pilates.
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  4. Can I do Pilates if I'm pregnant?
    Please visit our Pregnancy page on this site on this site. To be safe, seek out a Pilates studio with certified teachers who have experience working with women throughout their entire pregnancy.
  5. I have a back problem – will Pilates help me?
    Please visit our Post Rehab/Pain Relief page on this site. Many osteopaths, physical therapists and doctors now recognize and praise the benefits of Pilates and refer patients to respected Pilates studios for post-rehab programs. Pilates is recognized as being of particular benefit to many back problems. By learning awareness based movements that re-pattern your faulty movement patterns, you will naturally strengthen your deep abdominal muscles, your supportive spinal muscles, the muscles of the pelvic floor and upper back, neck and shoulder area. In turn, this will allow the development of natural posture, reducing strain and stress on your back. Your back will get stronger and your pain will gradually reduce. If you suspect any sort of structural back or joint problem, you should always check with your doctor or specialist before embarking on any new exercise program.
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  6. Why is Plates considered a bodymind conditioning program?
    Pilates engages the mind and the body because it is "movement with awareness". As a result, you'll find your Pilates workouts absorbing and even rejuvenating. Many find that it is that one special hour of the day when they're able let go of everything…except the present moment!
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  7. OK – I like what I'm hearing and seeing, but those Pilates machines…they sort of look like torture devices!?
    Yes, we hear that often. Some of the Pilates equipment can look like medieval torture devices, which is ironic because they support you in feeling so good. The Reformer, the Cadillac, "Wunda Chair", along with the High Barrel, Pilates Balls and several other smaller pieces of equipment form the Pilates equipment repertoire.

    The apparatus that most people have heard about, and the centerpiece of the repertoire, is the Reformer…an ingenious spring-powered machine that made Pilates a household word. It'll become your favorite workout friend and partner, as you wake up your body's deep core support. You'll strengthen and align your back and neck, while challenging your core coordination from foot to head. The Reformer is an important compliment to your Pilates matwork!

    The 2nd most prominent apparatus in the repertoire is, appropriately named, the "Cadillac". The word Cadillac conjures up big convertible cars with fins, electric windows and fancy hub caps. A fitting metaphor for this ingenious Pilates machine.   In the words of Stefan (on Saturday Night Live), "it has Everything": leg springs, arm springs, fuzzy loops to hang from, a push-through bar to stretch you out... and even a trapeze!   Besides being just plain fun to work on, the Cadillac is an excellent tool for breaking down motion into small pieces, assisting in the restoration of optimal movement patterns. And, because it's elevated, it's nice for older people if they have trouble getting down on the floor.

    The "Wunda" Chair was Joe Pilates' favorite piece of equipment…small, compact, yet a real powerhouse. Because of its small stature, and its ability to offer a full body workout for anyone, his vision was for everyone a Wunda Chair in their home, doubling as a sitting chair. Well, we haven't quite yet seen it take over a home seating revolution, but everyone sure loves the Wunda Chair at our studio. So come join a class, and discover a unique and challenging way to build strength in the core, improve balance and increase muscle coordination and control. 
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  8. What's better, mat or equipment Pilates exercises?
    It's not a matter of one being better than another. At the PCA, we emphasize the importance of both Mat and Equipment. Let's first look at the equipment, and then discuss the Mat work.

    The various equipment pieces such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Chair incorporate light spring resistance that works like concentric and eccentric muscle contractions to safely sculpt, tone and stretch the muscles. The large and small Barrels provide support that allows you to safely stretch your body using gravity as a partner with full body extension, flexion, side-bending or twisting movements. There are many other small apparatus that also provide an element of variety and focus to a Pilates regimen. 

    These apparatus are critical in "teaching" the body new patterns of movement, "training the user to create new body awareness, while strengthening and toning the body. But, it is also a critical that the student incorporate a Mat or floor exercise program into their workout program, for a couple of very important reasons. First, because the only apparatus needed is the mat itself, which can be taken anywhere, home or on the road. Is this way, you become truly self-sufficient, and can take your practice with you wherever you are...for the rest of your life! Secondly, because there is no assist, other than gravity (which you learn to partner with, rather than fight), the mat becomes an even more challenging a workout, enabling you to accelerate your progress.

    So both Mat and Equipment workouts compliment and build upon one another, and are integral to your training.
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And now, to separate Fact from Fiction