Meet your Mat: Pilates for Beginners

If you're new to Pilates, here's how to ease yourself in.


By Sara Vallejo


While Pilates was initially developed for reconditioning and improving overall health, it’s now offered in gyms and studios around the world as a strengthening and toning workout. With nearly infinite combinations of moves and modifications, Pilates is a great, low-impact, full-body strength exercise and something anyone who is pursuing a healthier and more fit lifestyle should consider adding to their arsenal of workouts..

If Pilates doesn’t look challenging enough for you, try it before deciding. You may find your abs quaking from a “warm up” move like the hundred (engaging your core muscles for stability while pumping your arms, you guessed it, one hundred times) or your glutes burning from holding or pulsing a shoulder bridge (a move where you use core and lower body strength to lift your tailbone from your mat--complete with challenging variations). On the other hand, if you’re worried that PIlates might be too challenging, keep in mind that Pilates can be adapted for all fitness levels--though you’re still going to feel the burn!

Pilates is for (almost) everyone.

If you’re able to do calisthenics and stretching exercises, you can do Pilates. While it’s recommended that anyone starting a new exercise regimen check with their doctors, Pilates is an excellent low-impact option for strengthening and stretching accessible to just about everyone.

Like yoga poses, most Pilates moves can be easily modified for all fitness levels and individuals with other fitness-related concerns. Pilates can even be practiced safely during pregnancy, so long as precautions are taken.

Seasoned athletes can benefit from Pilates, too. In addition to strengthening, Pilates also improves flexibility, core strength and stability, and balance. If you haven’t tried PIlates, swap out a strength training or yoga session for a Pilates class to add variety to your workouts.

If possible, take a group or private class by a certified Pilates instructor when starting out to ensure that you are doing the moves correctly and maintaining proper form.

You can start with just a mat.

While there are a lot of apparatuses available for Pilates (like the reformer), you can easily get started with just an exercise or yoga mat. Those looking to modify poses may also require a folded towel, cushion or an exercise band, but many poses can be modified without props.

If you enjoy group fitness, look into Pilates mat classes in your area--your gym may even offer them. Not into group classes? Once you’ve learned the basics, Pilates can be done just about anywhere you can lay out your mat. You can create your own routine or follow along with exercise videos right from your living room.

Power up your core and perk up your posture.

Most Pilates exercises focus on the abs, lower back, hips and legs, providing an excellent core strength workout. Not only can a strong core can help improve posture, balance and stability, but it can also make everyday tasks easier and may help those suffering from lower back pain.

A strong core is essential for every physical activity and sport we do and core strengthening helps provide a firm foundation for musculoskeletal health.

Proper posture is key for a healthy back and can help keep bones and joints aligned, while taking excess stress off muscles and ligaments. Standing tall with proper posture also improves your appearance. Good posture conveys grace and confidence while slouching does just the opposite.

If you haven’t tried Pilates before, give it a try. You may find it complements the other aspects of your workout regime--or that you just plain enjoy it!

Sara Vallejo is a self-confessed happiness, health and self-development junkie from Chicago. She writes professionally in a business development and marketing capacity, and as a volunteer for a digital nonprofit. Miss Vallejo is a passionate mental and holistic health advocate who believes that good health is an ongoing journey best undertaken with supportive peers. Sara’s areas of expertise include nutrition, weight loss, women’s health, mental health and disability issues. She is returning to weight loss and fitness following orthopedic surgery and is excited to encourage and inspire fellow Azumio community members and readers to achieve the best health they can.

Main Photo Credit: archimede/; Second Photo Credit &  Fourth Photo Credit : holbox/; Third Photo Credit: Carlos Amarillo/