One of the best things about Pilates is its incredible power to give your body (and mind for that matter) that “I just had a great workout” feeling without the mindless repetition involved in so many other forms of exercise. No picking things up just to put them down here. In fact, Joseph Pilates once said:
“A few well-designed movements, properly performed in a balanced sequence, are worth hours of doing sloppy calisthenics or forced contortion.”
So how can we ensure we are getting the best great workout feeling? It all starts with control.
Aptly named Contrology to begin with, it comes as no surprise that control plays a huge role in ensuring you’re getting the most out of your Pilates session. It goes further than just how you manage your muscles as you do each exercise, applying to how you gather yourself and prepare for the next repetition as well.
We can think of each exercise in our Pilates session as having both of these parts, an effort phase and a return phase. How you control your body through both will have a huge impact on the quality of your workout. Most of us are great at executing the effort phase with control and mindfulness. This is where much of our mental and physical energy goes - doing the actual movement. However, it is the return phase, where our bodies are getting a little break in preparation for the next rep, that, with added control, can bring your workout to the next level. Much like when you take to the couch after a long day, your return phase may be experiencing a similar “flop” as you prepare for your next rep.
Maintaining control during both phases is a great way to get more from your next Pilates session!
In fact, if you control both phases equally, you’ll be effectively doubling the amount of work required to perform each exercise - talk about getting more!
With this in mind, incorporate these tips into your next session and make your Pilates do double time!
Work against the springs in your return phase - i.e. don’t let the springs do the work to bring you home
Consider both phases to be the sum of the exercise, maintaining control, tension, and energy throughout your muscles as you exert the effort and return to prepare for the next rep
Use an extended breath pattern to promote a feeling of relaxation and calm - exhaling for double the count you inhale at
Maintain the same pace as you do and return