Pilates is an incredibly popular form of exercise that was developed in the early-1900’s, but didn’t make it over to England until the 1970’s. Since then it’s been knocking around on the fitness scene and been a constant presence in people’s workout routines.
Focusing on core strength and stability, it utilises controlled movements and breathing to build strength, coordination, balance and improve alignment. Have we got your interest? We chat to Bristol-based Pilates studio, Soul Pilates, about the origins of Pilates, the benefits and what to expect from your first class!
Soul Pilates has just opened a brand new Pilates Reformer studio in Bristol. Their Bishopston studio features a mindful mix of their signature classes (Pilates Matwork, Soul Yoga, Soul Barre, PHIIT, Pre & Post-Natal Pilates) as well as a brand-new offering of Pilates Reformer classes to help restore alignment, build strength and find balance in your body.
Where did Pilates come from?
It was developed by Joseph Pilates, a German bodybuilding enthusiast who focused his life on becoming fit and healthy after a sickly childhood. He began a new approach to fitness which combined body conditioning using body weight and apparatus, such as the Reformer, which is still used in studios today! He extensively researched many different forms of exercise; from Ancient Roman exercise routines to modern day fitness, such as gymnastics, and from tai chi to meditation.
In the 1920’s Joseph Pilates opened his first studio in New York and his methods were a hit! Especially with dancers - they found it a perfect way to recover from injuries and strengthen their weak spots. It grew in popularity before being brought over to the UK where the first Pilates studio opened in London in 1970. And, as they say, the rest is history!
A beginners guide to Pilates
Hundreds of studios and venues across the UK now offer Pilates and they range in a broad spectrum of styles. Have you ever been curious to try it out? We’ve collaborated with Soul Pilates, a quality Pilates studio based in the centre of Bristol, to bring you an in-depth beginners guide to Pilates. See what it’s all about and if it’s something you would want to give a go!
Why should I include Pilates in my weekly routine?
Pilates is a full mind and body workout that provides you with core strength and improved posture, whilst also finding a sense of ease in your own body. It’s a focused workout and there are lots of different styles out there. The core purpose of Pilates is finding ease in your movements.
Most people are conditioned to believe that you must work harder to achieve the body of your dreams, but what if you could work smarter and do less to achieve more? Yes, that’s totally possible - the smallest of movements can produce the greatest of results! Pilates can literally help everyone; from bright-eyed clients in their 20’s to those in their 80’s who are wanting to improve their health… plus everyone in between, including world-leading athletes!
The Pilates equipment used can provide support when you need it, but can also challenge you with springs that create resistance - this mimics your own muscles and movements. It’s an experience like no other and hooks people - if you fall for this form of exercise, you’ll be turning up to the studios multiple times a week!
What changes will I see in my body?
Most people notice changes quite quickly. Some clients say that after one session they feel different. Whether it’s feeling lighter, taller or just an overall sense of a difference within their body. Especially when walking.
Over time you will find that your posture changes, not because you are consciously pulling and pushing your body into a 'better posture' but because your body learns how to correctly fall into place from the Pilates training. All the while you’ll find yourself getting stronger in your entire body, not just your core, with more flexibility… and a mind which is far more in tune with your body.
What parts of the body does Pilates focus on?
Pilates is a full body workout where you are learning to move efficiently, and most people come to Pilates because of its reputation to increase “core strength”.
Many of those in pain or recovering from injury start finding ease in their body with Pilates - it trains you to avoid repeatedly wearing out the same body parts. By getting every part of your body to work as it should in harmony, your core strength will develop and improve! Plus you’ll tone your tummy without a sit-up in sight!
What type of equipment do you use in a Pilates equipment class?
In Reformer classes, we use an amazing piece of kit called (you guessed it) the Reformer. It’s loved the world over for it’s adaptability to provide a workout for literally everyone! In a Reformer class you have several reformers and you are all working on the same exercise together.
Pilates has several pieces of equipment which provide you with the most amazing movement experience. In an equipment class you will get to use different pieces of equipment in a group setting.
At Soul Pilates, our group classes have no more than 6 people in them and we have the following equipment available: Reformer; Trapeze Table (also known as The Cadillac), Ladder Barrel, Spine Corrector, and the Wunda Chair, along with lots of props such as the foam roller, magic circle, toe gizmo, fascial release balls and resistance bands to name just a few.
What can I expect from the beginners course?
In Soul Pilates’ Beginner courses, we take your body on a journey to not only learn how to move on the equipment and change the springs for yourself, but to understand your body’s capabilities.
Each class is focused on a movement strategy, such as finding good spinal movement and alignment, and honing upper body organisation and strength. By the end of the course you will not only feel confident on the equipment but also in your own body and how it moves.
What should I bring and wear?
Just wear something comfortable - shorts or leggings and a t-shirt or vest top. No zips as these can damage the equipment. Grip socks are ideal and we have some to purchase at the studio if you don’t have any. You don’t need to bring your own mat, but don’t forget a bottle of water!
I'm really not flexible and haven't worked out in a while/have NO experience in Pilates - will I find it really hard?
Absolutely not! At Soul Pilates in Bristol, our aim is to be inclusive and supportive for every single client and this is why we have taught clients with M.E and those in chronic pain, alongside world-leading athletes. We work on helping you find the strategies in your body’s movement to gain strength or flexibility so it doesn’t really matter where your starting point is.
If you are really nervous then a private session will help you feel more confident prior to joining a group class. We also advise that you have a private session if you’re working through any rehab issues so that we can assess your suitability for class and recommend the best option for you.
MoveGB members can gain discounts on private 60 and 30 mins sessions and these are booked by contacting us directly.
So… how do you like the sound of Pilates? You keen to jump on a Reformer? Try out a ‘magic circle’? Or just strengthen and condition your body to the max? Explore the Pilates studios and classes in you local area and give it a go!
Soul Pilates is Bristol's leading rehabilitation focused, fully equipped Pilates studio, offering Mat, Equipment, Pre-Natal and Barre classes plus private 1-to-1 sessions in the heart of Bristol city on Queen's Square. They have experienced instructors to give you greater body-awareness, improved posture and strength. They have also opened up a new Pilates studio in Bishopston full of state of the art Reformer equipment.