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101 Questions About Pilates You’re Afraid to Ask Your Instructor
Well, hello there my dear Pilates pals!
I’m George (that’s me over there in Doodle form). I’m a Pilates teacher, Yoga teacher, doodle artist, and creator of the online Pilates Lesson Planner.
I wrote this post for my fellow Pilates instructors (a.k.a. Pilates Jedi Masters) so they can answer the questions of Pilates practitioner peeps (a.k.a. Pilates padawans). But if you happen to be a Pilates padawan and have a sudden urge to be taken under the wing of a more experienced Pilates Jedi to learn the ways of the Pilates Force, then you’ve hyperdrived yourself to the perfect blog post.
Umm, please forgive the unnecessary Jedi speak!
Through all these questions, I’m gonna talk to you as a Pilates instructor would talk to their Pilates practitioners, but with a bit of added humour to make this post an interesting read.
Let’s chat about something that’s just as important as nailing that perfect Roll Up exercise – it’s answering your Pilates students’ questions with a straight face, and not a glimmer of snarkiness.
Below is my definition of snarkiness:
Snarkiness: ‘critical or mocking in an indirect or sarcastic way’.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“Shouldn’t I just tell my Pilates students to Google the Pilates questions they have for me?”
I mean, no.
Definitely, definitely, definitely not! Because that would be snarky. So, go back and reread my definition of snarkiness.
You didn’t go back, did you?
Hey, I’m not writing a word more until you go back and reread my definition of snarkiness.
Good. Let’s continue…
Taking the time to answer your students’ questions can make all the difference between them feeling safe in your capable hands so that they come to all your classes for the next 20+ years, and never seeing them again after their first class.
I’ve taught hundreds of Pilates and Yoga classes, and in every single one of those classes I answer questions at the beginning (before class starts), and at the end of class. Someone always has a question, or two, or three.
So, put on your thinking caps and get ready to become a Pilates Q&A master, because we’re about to dive into 101 of the most common questions students ask their instructors.
I will answer the questions with humour because, well, because my mother never paid me enough attention and I use humour to fill a void. That was a joke!..especially if that’s you, Mum, reading this.
General Pilates Questions
“What Makes a Good Pilates Practitioner?”
Below is my answer to the “What makes a good Pilates practitioner?”
Oh, so you want to know what makes a good Pilates practitioner?
Well, where do I even begin? It’s like asking what makes a good slice of pizza – there are so many deliciously different factors to consider. But fear not, my Pilates padawans, for I am here to guide you on the path to Pilates greatness.
First and foremost, a good Pilates practitioner is someone who is committed to the practice. That means showing up to my Pilates class consistently, even on those days when you’d rather be lounging on the couch with a bag of chips…and especially even if I’m a useless Pilates instructor. It means pushing yourself to try new movements and challenging your body to reach new levels of strength and flexibility.
But being a good Pilates practitioner isn’t just about physical prowess – it’s also about having the right mindset. That means being patient with yourself and your body and accepting the annoying fact that progress isn’t a linear thing. It means listening to your body and looking at your Pilates instructor in a way that he or she instantly knows you require a modification, instead of pushing through pain.
Another important factor in being a good Pilates practitioner is having good form. That means paying attention to the details, like alignment, breathing, and muscle activation. It means taking the time to understand the principles of Pilates and how they apply to each movement (e.g. the Pilates Swan Dive).
And let’s not forget about the importance of having fun…even though your instructor harps on relentlessly about form. A good Pilates practitioner is someone who approaches their practice with a sense of playfulness and curiosity, rather than a rigid or serious mindset. After all, Pilates is all about exploring movement and discovering what your body is capable of.
So, my dear Pilates practitioner peep (notice the lovely alliteration there), if you want to be a good practitioner, remember to commit, have the right mindset, focus on form, and most importantly, have fun! And maybe, just maybe, you’ll become a Pilates Jedi master in no time.
“What are the 6 Key Principles of Pilates?”
Below is my answer to the “What are the 6 key principles of Pilates?”
Oh, you want to know about the 6 Key Principles of Pilates? Wow. That’s a big question. Do some One Leg Circles, and try to apply each of the principles as I talk through them and let you uncover ways of Pilates, my Pilates padawan.
The 6 Key Principles of Pilates are like the ingredients to a perfect pizza. You need them all in the right proportions to get the perfect end result. And just like with pizza, if you skimp on any of these principles, you’re going to end up with a hot mess.
First up, we have breathing.
Principle 1: Breathing
Ah, the Pilates breath. It’s like the cherry on top of the Pilates sundae. It’s important, it’s refreshing, and it’s delicious (okay, maybe not that last part).
Breathing is like the fuel that powers your Pilates practice. Without it, you’re just a car running on fumes. And nobody wants to be that car.
Pilates breathing is not just about inhaling and exhaling willy-nilly. It’s about using your breath to support your movements and help you get the most out of each exercise.
So, when you’re doing Pilates, you want to focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. And not just any old breaths, oh no. You want to take deep, controlled breaths that help you engage your core and power your movements.
It’s like a secret weapon. Use your breath to power up your Pilates practice and take it to the next level.
So, there you have it. The Pilates breath. And remember, inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth, and power up that Pilates practice like the boss you are!
Second, we have concentration.
Principle 2: Concentration
Ah, concentration. It’s like the secret sauce that makes Pilates so delicious. Without it, you’re just flailing around like a fish out of water.
Concentration is not just about focusing your mind on the task at hand. It’s about zeroing in on your body and really feeling each movement. It’s like trying to crack a safe. You gotta really focus and feel your way through each step, or you’re never going to get that treasure.
Concentration in Pilates is all about being present in the moment. It’s about shutting out all the distractions and really honing in on your body and your movements. Think of it like a Zen master meditating in a peaceful garden. You gotta block out all the noise and focus on the present.
When you really concentrate on your Pilates practice, you’re going to see results you’ve never seen before. You’ll feel stronger, more flexible, and more in tune with your body than ever before.
Third, we have centering.
Principle 3: Centering
Centering is like finding the calm in the chaos. Without it, you’re just a chicken running around with its head cut off.
Centering is not just about finding your physical center of gravity. It’s about finding your mental center too. It’s like being in a storm. You gotta be calm, cool, and collected, even when the world around you is going bananas.
Centering in Pilates is all about being present in the moment and really focusing on your breath. It’s like a superhero harnessing their powers. You gotta tap into that inner strength and channel it towards your movements.
Forth, we have control.
Principle 4: Control
Control in Pilates is like being the captain of your own ship. Without it, you’re just a boat lost at sea.
So, let’s talk about control. It’s not just about keeping your movements slow and steady. It’s about really owning each movement and making it count.
Control in Pilates is all about engaging your core and really feeling each movement. It’s like a dance between your mind and your body. You gotta be in control, but also let yourself go with the flow.
Fifth, we have precision.
Principle 5: Precision
This is about being precise in your movements and making sure you’re hitting all the right spots. It’s like trying to thread a needle without your glasses on. You gotta be precise!
And finally, we have flow.
Principle 6: Flow
Flow is about making your movements flow smoothly from one to the other, like a river flowing downstream. It’s all about keeping the momentum going and not getting stuck in one spot.
Phew! There you have it, the “6 Key Principles of Pilates”.
Pilates Anatomy Questions
“What does Engage Abs mean in Pilates?”
Below is my answer to the “What does engage abs mean?”
That is a mightily fine question. And it is quite possibly the most confusing phrase in Pilates: “Engage your abs.”
I mean, what does that even mean, right?
Are you supposed to talk to your abs, and engage them in a deep and meaningful conversation about life and the universe? No, no, no, Bob. It’s much simpler than that.
When we say “engage your abs,” what we really mean is to activate those deep core muscles that support your spine and help you maintain proper posture throughout the Pilates exercise.
It’s like telling your abs:
“Hey, we’re doing some serious work here, so tighten up and don’t slack off!”
Think of it like putting on a superhero suit for your abs – they’re ready to spring into action and save the day (or at least, your back).
So, how do you actually engage your abs?
Well, first you want to make sure you’re in proper alignment. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart and your shoulders relaxed. Now, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine. It’s like you’re zipping up a tight pair of jeans – but don’t hold your breath or suck in your stomach! You want to maintain a natural breathing pattern while engaging your abs.
Now, hold that engagement and try a few simple Pilates movements, like the Pilates Hundred or the Pilates Roll Up. Feel the power of your activated core muscles as you move with control and precision. And remember, engaging your abs isn’t just for Pilates class – you can do it while you’re sitting at your desk, driving in your car, or even watching Mandalorian on Netflix. Your abs will thank you, your spine will thank you, and your back will thank you.
“What is Body Alignment in Pilates?”
Below is my answer to the “What is body alignment in Pilates?”
Oh, so you want to know what body alignment is?
Body alignment is all about making sure your body is in the right position to get the most out of your Pilates practice. It’s like when you’re trying to take the perfect selfie, you gotta make sure your face is angled just right, or you’ll end up with a double chin that could rival Jabba the Hutt.
In Pilates, we want to avoid any “Jabba the Hutt” moments by making sure our body is aligned from head to toe. That means, no slouching, no hunching, and definitely no crooked posture. We want to be as straight as a board, but without getting splinters!
If you’re not aligned properly, you might as well be flapping your arms like a chicken with its head cut off.
When we have good body alignment, our muscles are able to work more efficiently, and we’re less likely to injure ourselves. Plus, we’ll look like total Pilates Jedi masters while doing it.
So, let’s straighten up those spines, engage those core muscles, and get ready to take on the world!
Hmmm, it’s time for a real-life example of body alignment in a Pilates exercise.
So, for The Pilates Hundred exercise, we want to start by lying on our backs with our knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Make sure your head and shoulders are lifted off the ground and your abs are engaged. Pretend you’re trying to make a C-curve with your spine without the cringe-worthy cracking sounds.
Next, extend your arms straight up towards the ceiling and pump them up and down in small, controlled movements. Make sure your shoulder blades are stable and your elbows are straight, but not locked. Keep your neck long and relaxed, and don’t forget to breathe!
Now, this is where it gets tricky. We want to keep our legs in a tabletop position, meaning our knees are directly above our hips and our shins are parallel to the ground. It’s like you’re trying to balance a glass of wine on your shins without spilling a drop. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend trying this at home, or drinking wine alone at home).
Remember to keep your abs engaged and your spine in a C-curve as you pump your arms. It’s like you’re trying to tickle the ceiling with your fingers while holding in a sneeze.
“What is Good Form in Pilates?”
Below is my answer to the “What is the good form in Pilates?”
Oh, so you want to know what good form is?
Trust me, as a Pilates teacher, I’ve seen some interesting interpretations of what “proper form” means. So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
First things first, Pilates is all about proper alignment. Think of it like a game of Jenga, except instead of blocks, you’re balancing your body. And just like in Jenga, if one piece is out of place, the whole tower comes crashing down.
So, when we talk about proper form, we’re talking about maintaining that alignment throughout each and every movement. That means keeping your spine straight, shoulders relaxed, and abs engaged (yes, that means no slouching or cheating with momentum).
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“Isn’t Pilates all about making weird shapes with our bodies?”
And to that, I say:
“Yes, but only if you’re doing it with proper form.”
See, Pilates is like the Olympics of body control (which is why Joseph Pilates called it Contrology. We’re not just doing movements for the sake of it, we’re doing them with intention and precision. So, whether you’re doing the Hundred, the Teaser, or any other Pilates exercise, remember that proper form is key.
And don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time. Remember, Pilates is all about progress, not perfection. So, keep practising and before you know it, you’ll be balancing like a pro.
So, there you have it. Proper form in Pilates is all about alignment, intention, and control. Now, let’s get those bodies balancing!
“George, Why Aren’t There 101 Questions On This Post?”
Ah, that’s a really good question.
You see, I started this post as a bit of fun. It’s gonna take me a few months to finish all 101 of them. In the meantime, use the patience you’ve developed doing Pilates, and return daily to find new semi-funny, quarter-silly questions and answers.
How Can I Transform my Pilates lesson Planning from ‘Meh’ to ‘OMG’?
Yep, you’re right. This question came from the mouth of a Pilates instructor, not a practitioner, but just in case you’re an instructor and a practitioner, I felt duty-bound to sneak this question in.
If you’re a Pilates instructor, it’s time to transform your Pilates lesson planning from ‘meh’ to ‘OMG’ with the online Pilates Lesson Planner – it’s like a Pilates revolution, but without all the tea-tossing and powdered wigs!
As a Pilates instructor, it can be challenging to stay on top of your lesson plan while also tracking your student’s progress.
But what if there was a tool that could help you streamline your workflow and take your Pilates teaching to the next level?
That tool is called the online Pilates Lesson Planner.
Next, let’s take a look at how the online Pilates Lesson Planner can help you stay organized with your Pilates lesson plans.
Hey, I hope you found my Pilates questions and answers helpful.
If you have any other questions, please don’t ask me for at least another month or two, because writing this post has given me a phobia of Pilates questions.
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