Frequently Asked Questions
Here we respond to many of the most common queries about Pilates. Do you have a question that's not addressed here? Click here to send us an email.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a system of gentle but challenging exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the whole body - but with a particular emphasis on the “core” muscles in your abdomen, back, and buttocks. These are the muscles that are responsible for maintaining our posture and alignment.
Joseph Pilates, who invented this form of exercise, believed it provided a “unique trinity of a balanced body, mind, and spirit”. The idea of “balance” is important in Pilates. Achieving balance means paying attention to the effects of exercise on our physical and mental wellbeing (as well as literally improving your balance so you don’t fall over!).
So when performing Pilates exercises, we focus on the following 6 principles:
Where does Pilates come from?
During World War I, a young Greek-German named Joseph Pilates devised a system of exercises for internees on the Isle of Man to help them recover more quickly from illness and injury.
Joseph was always very interested in improving his own fitness levels and explored many different physical disciplines and fitness techniques – including gymnastics, yoga, wrestling - until he came up with his own system, which he named “Contrology”.
Joseph Pilates’ work soon attracted the interest of athletes, actors, and dancers, and by the 1920s he had opened a studio in New York where he taught Controlology with his wife, Clara.
“Controlology” has since been renamed to honour its inventor, and gradually refined by a number of Pilates organisations around the world so that we, too, can benefit from Joseph Pilates’ pioneering work.
Will I be able to do Pilates?
All our bodies have different quirks and require different things from an exercise regime. Many people think they can’t do Pilates because they aren’t flexible or mobile enough.
Well, the good news is - you don’t have to be! Here at Pilates Place, our teachers modify all the exercises they ask you to do – you could do some movements while sitting in a chair, or standing up.
If you practice Pilates in the studio on the large pieces of equipment, it is even easier to work at a level appropriate for you.
No matter whether you’re young or old, if you’re highly active and fit, if you have a disability or a chronic illness, or if you’re recovering from an injury or surgery, Pilates can help you.
What is "studio Pilates"? What is Pilates equipment?
When you say “Pilates” most people think of mat classes. But, Pilates exercises were first intended to be practised on special equipment designed by Joseph Pilates himself, although it has been adapted and developed over the years.
This range of equipment is completely different from the exercise machines you might find in a gym. It consists of four big pieces called the “Reformer”, the “Cadillac” (aka “Trapeze Table”), the “Combo Chair” (aka “Wunda Chair”), and the “Ladder Barrel”, and they mainly use springs to provide resistance.
Other items you might use in the studio or at a class:
“Magic Ring” (aka “Pilates Ring”)
Bender Ball (TM)
Massage balls (aka “Therapy balls”)
Band (aka “Resistance band”)
Can Pilates help me?
Pilates can help you whether you’re young or old, if you’re highly active and fit, if you have a disability or a chronic illness, or if you’re recovering from an injury or surgery.
Many of our customers use Pilates to manage common health problems, including:
General back pain
Recovery after a herniated disc or discectomy
Pre and ante natal exercise
Recovery after injury, illness, or surgery
All new Pilates Place members go through an Initial Assessment before they join the studio, and we will discuss any specific needs or goals during that session.
If you have any concerns about your health, such as a diagnosed condition or a new or old injury, please seek advice from your GP or a health professional before starting any exercise programme.
What are the benefits of Pilates?
The benefits of Pilates include:
Better awareness of breathing techniques
Strengthening of the main muscle groups
Who is Pilates for?
People who need rehabilitation after injury or surgery
Pilates can be adapted to accommodate what your body can do and what it needs
The good news is that people of all ages and fitness levels can practice Pilates. It doesn't need you to be super flexible or have lots of stamina. If you're someone who hasn't exercised for a while, Pilates can be a great way of kick-starting your physical fitness again. Pilates is just as useful if you're very fit and active, as a way of maintaining your condition.
Above all, Pilates is extremely versatile. The most advanced Pilates exercises are extremely difficult and require great physical strength and concentration.
The minimum age to join a session on the Pilates equipment at Pilates Place is 16 years. There is no upper age limit. You must be at least 13 years old to participate in a Mat or Barre class.
A flat bed with springs and levers attached to a frame.
A frame with a sliding carriage attached to springs and pulleys.
A static arched surface with adjustable rungs
A small seat with handles and sprung pedals
Is Pilates easy for beginners?
Yes, because your teacher will adjust the exercises to suit your body.
If you have never tried Pilates before, you will probably find beginner’s level exercises easy to understand but sometimes they could require some concentration to do properly. This isn’t because the movements are too hard for you but because we all have particular weaknesses and imbalances that are hardly noticeable in day-to-day life.
When you start practising Pilates, you might find out you can bend further on your left side than you can on your right, or perhaps one leg is more flexible than the other. A bit of a difference between the two sides of your body is normal, but you can often improve these imbalances by working with your Pilates teacher to even things up.
With regular practise you will begin to feel the benefits of Pilates. Your muscles will feel stronger, your posture will improve because you have strengthened your core muscles. You will generally feel more flexible and able to perform everyday tasks more easily. Bending and reaching become easier and using the stairs will no longer be an issue.