How Often Should You Do Pilates?

Flying side plank

I’m often asked by clients how often they should do Pilates to see the benefits.  Once a week?  Twice?  Every day?  The founder, Joseph Pilates recommended doing at least ten minutes every day.  I agree.  I encourage people who come along to class to take away with them one or two exercises their bodies responded particularly well to in the session, to do at home for themselves in between classes.

Although I teach Pilates six days a week, I still make time each day at home to do the exercises I need to do to ensure my body moves as well as possible.  The benefits I get from doing Pilates daily are obvious to me; I can tell from the range of movement I’m able to do and from how it feels when I move.

If you’re wondering if it’s safe and beneficial to do Pilates every day, here’s a useful article which considers how adaptable Pilates is to being done on a daily basis, and the importance of doing the correct balance of Pilates exercises.

The key points from the article are highlighted below:

  • Pilates exercises emphasize things like awareness, functional alignment, breath, and co-ordination. This multi-dimensional approach gives us the opportunity to shift the focus of our daily routine.
  • Joseph Pilates firmly believed that an exercise programme should be varied and that the way to maximize the effect of each move is doing it with full attention, and with low repetitions. Based on this, the ideal Pilates session rotates between different muscle groups, shifts intensity levels, and balances our exercises in terms of flexion and extension within each workout, and in our daily workouts over time. Repeating the same exercises every day could result in an unbalanced routine that becomes as boring as doing too many reps. Read the following quote from Joseph Pilates:

     

    ‘Contrology [Pilates as we call it now] is not a fatiguing system of dull, boring, abhorred exercises repeated daily ad-nauseam…..The only unchanging rules you must conscientiously obey are that you must always faithfully and without deviation follow the instructions accompanying the exercises and always keep your mind wholly concentrated on the purpose of the exercises as you perform them.’

     

  • Tune into yourself and adjust the focus of your exercise for any given day, based on how your body feels, e.g. your energy level, areas of discomfort etc. A good rhythm for doing a Pilates routine over time might be to do a physically challenging session one day, perhaps a group class, and follow up with a day or two at home doing a smaller number of exercises that are easier on the muscles.

Man doing Pilates

In conclusion then, Pilates can be done safely and effectively every day. The key is to vary the exercises in your routine, keep them targeted, and if a particular muscle group is challenged one day, moderate the work you do on this part of the body the next.

Pilates, the physical accompaniment to daily life.  P J Harvey, the musical accompaniment to my daily life, currently anyway.  Here’s a track from her recently released album, The Hope Six Demolition Project…

Specificity – The Pilates Secret

Capoeira

For those who have ever played competitive sports, studied an instrument or practised martial arts, you have already experienced the magic of specificity. Any task that requires attention to detail draws upon the same elements – mental and physical focus. Joseph Pilates knew this when he created the Pilates Method. The exercises he developed draw on moves from disciplines like gymnastics, yoga, body building and dance, which require tremendous concentration and a high level of precision. Pilates called his method Contrology to reflect the blend of body and mind effort required to execute the movements. Control is at the heart of it all.

Perhaps the most beneficial part of Pilates is the mental focus that makes every workout a reward rather than a chore. Running through a mindless movement regimen while your thoughts remain anchored in the mundane, is neither physically effective nor mentally rejuvenating. Come to Pilates regularly and you will experience what it feels like to be in the moment and acutely present in your body.

Looking at the physical side, the Pilates Method is defined by the precise instructions detailed for each and every move. The rhythm, placement and muscular recruitment are all clearly specified. Likewise, there is a choreographed breath pattern for every movement.

Tightrope walker

Acute precision is what defines Pilates. Each exercise is performed deliberately and specifically according to a detailed set of instructions about what is right and what is wrong. Working towards these standards is what elevates each Pilates student over time to achieve their highest potential.

The specificity required in Pilates is applicable to all types of activity, whether that be a sport like golf or running or tennis, or something more everyday like gardening or cleaning the house. Learn specificity in your Pilates practice and then apply it to your real life.

This article was developed from a piece by Alycea Ungaro on the Pilates Foundation website.

Pilates balance exercise