The Blog

Just a few of my musings... 


Answering Pilates Questions

I think I sometimes frustrate my clients. I often get asked questions and I don't always give straight answers. It's human nature to want black and white answers to our queries, especially when we are talking about health because we are motivated by results. We want to see results quickly and we want to know we are heading in the right direction. I know I do a lot of the time, especially for things outside my field! We want to know which nutrition trend is best, A, B or C? what form of exercise will increase my cardio capacity/help me lose weight/build muscle the fastest? Should I be doing this exercise this way or that way? While I am not an expert on nutrition or all forms of exercise, I do know Pilates.

I know that there are many ways of approaching the same goal and many ways to use the same exercise to achieve different goals. So when I am asked in our sessions which way to do an exercise is best, I often give long-winded answers. Sorry! 🇨🇦 Partly because I love teaching people about the whys of Pilates (more on this to follow) and because there is no 'best way' to approach a movement.

There are best ways for approaching movement for particular people and particular goals and particular days. I may load up the springs for you one day in footwork so that you really feel the strength of your legs and to build muscles, I may drop them another day to focus on stability in the torso or to focus on alignment. Lower resistance doesn't mean easier it just means different. We may do footwork on the reformer, chair, or trap table, we may do it quickly or move slowly, we may use lots of props or we may use none at all. When you take a class with one instructor, a basic exercise like footwork may feel like a totally different thing than with another instructor. And that’s okay, in fact, it’s good! Most likely, neither of us is teaching you something 'wrong'. We are seeing different things in your body that we are prioritizing or we are hearing and interpreting your goals differently. Or, we attended different training programs or worked with different mentors that emphasize different parts and ways to approach these seemingly simple movements.

I also like to teach the basic theory of pilates to my clients because I think knowing why we are doing things is empowering and actually improves outcomes. Knowing why we do things is often motivating. Pilates is most often practiced within the context of a studio, gym, class, or on a mat at home. Knowing why we do things in this space helps students translate their experience into a resource they can access in daily living or other athletic pursuits.

For example, I spend a lot of time teaching breathwork in my sessions and I try to integrate breath into every movement.

Why? because exhaling naturally co-activates our deepest core muscles to support movement and effort. Many people default to holding breath through effort which increases abdominal pressure and can in extreme events outside the studio cause abdominal herniation or pelvic floor prolapse. So we build good patterns in the studio to either reduce risk of injury or to promote healing. I bet you want to listen to your instructor’s breath cues now! See, knowing is motivating!!!

So now you know, when I don't answer with a black and white answer it's likely because there isn't one. And I suppose I could say "for you, its A, B, or C" but I don't want to undermine other instructors who have so much to offer, and I want you to be empowered by the knowledge that empowered me!

K Martin Pilates 
Based in Boston, MA
Tel: (617) 299-9160