I have a few different answers depending on the person who’s asking and on their overall goals…as well as what type of Pilates or if you’re using any of the apparatus. The ideal would be 3 times a week spaced out so you have at least 1 day between sessions. Do you have another workout or exercise style in your schedule already? You may want to ask your instructor how to best space out your week to get the most out of your Pilates sessions.
You can do your Pilates Mat everyday if you want, if you’re still building your Pilates practice I would suggest at least 3 days a week when you first start. It's a bit like learning a new language, the more you do it the easier it is to find your rhythm, learning all the names and how the Pilates Apparatus work takes a little more focus when you first get going. You’d ideally like to space out the equipment/spring loaded workouts with at least a day in between, after you get more advanced that answer will change depending how long you’ve been doing pilates.
Hanging Pull-Ups from my visit to Studio Reset in Portland, OR with Lucero Barry in 2016. http://www.studioresetpdx.com/
How much time should I spend doing Pilates?
If you’re in a studio setting the usual is a 55 minute session or whether it’s a private, a duet/trio or group session. Although if you’re practicing your mat order you could do even 15-30 mins with a nice flow and focus and it will be way more worth it than not doing anything at all or trying to force yourself through a full class where you may just not have the focus or energy or even time to get a whole hour workout in. Joseph Pilates quote “Movement Heals.” really resonates with me in moments where I talk myself out of a workout whether it’s not enough time or energy or I should try and conquer a few more things on my adulting list before I deserve a workout, where these 2 words flip my mental state and get me on the mat or equipment because honestly…we are meant to MOVE as humans. Instead of that second cup of coffee stop, drop and do your mat! I dare you to tell me you don’t feel better, more focused and ready to conquer your to-do list after. Some self-love even for a few consistent focused minutes for you and your body to calibrate makes a HUGE difference. So if you can’t fit time into your day to do your 3 workouts a week in the studio the world won’t end but make sure to find some time to set aside to practice your mat work at home or do another form of movement to keep you moving between sessions.
How long can you “feel” Pilates in your body?
Everyone is different but with most bodies I see their body holds onto Pilates for about 24hours…then if they have one day off their body tunes in pretty quickly, if they’ve had 48 hours off about 20mins into class I can see the efficiency coming back into their movement if they’ve had more than 3 days off it’s constant focus to get their body back into pilates mode and dig deep enough into their powerhouse to get themselves back to where they feel like their body is in the room with them and tuned into their powerhouse.
What if I don’t think I can commit to a specific Pilates schedule?
EveryBODY is different. Use the method to start to learn how your body feels it’s best. Your mat should be your baseline, ideally Joseph Pilates would want you to do your mat EVERY DAY, like brushing your teeth or taking your vitamins. He was very specific on how his Contrology was essential to our health. Look up the 2 books Joseph Pilates, the genius himself wrote(I will link them below). He was truly ahead of his time but he believed his system was the answer to pain and preventing health issues as well as your overall health, he wanted to get it to EVERYbody of all ages. His goal was for everyone to have a proper understanding of their bodies and how to maintain optimal health. Each week may vary with your availability or your mental capacity to focus through a class, this is why most studios have the 24 hour cancellation policy it gives you a reason to check in with yourself and see what is best for you. Maybe an at home mini mat workout is better than rushing to the studio and trying to get through a full 55 minute session and fighting traffic to get home that week OR maybe you can feel your body craving the springs for extra resistance and length to combat all the time at your desk and commuting your body has endured so far this week. You start to see what your body needs…some clients do better having a set routine, others like being able to mix it up. I have clients who are religious about their 3 sessions booked a week in the studio and then some prefer mat from home or zoom sessions with equipment they have access to, while others prefer 1 private session along with 2 group sessions per week.
Is Pilates Mat enough?
What if you looked at your mat as your “check-in” instead of a workout? See how your body feels today in the Roll Up compared to how it did when you tried on Monday…are you lacking your lift, your strength, the C-curve, then as you focus on your mat keep that in mind, maybe that will help you know whether you should push for a flow or if you need to focus more on the precision and the breath of the exercises. Your body will start to take over and lead you through your mat repertoire in new ways to help it get what it needs from your workout. Ideally Joseph Pilates made sure to have options if you didn’t have access to his in studio apparatus that you could benefit as much through his mat system as possible. Hopefully this can help change your perspective on how pilates mat is “easy,” personally I think it’s the hardest part of the system when done properly. There are lots of small props you can add in to help challenge you in new ways. The mat should always feel like a constant challenge, it’s not like learning something and then moving on, you always keep the same order but maybe add new variations to help challenge your body as you get stronger in your Pilates practice.
Should I stay with one instructor?
When you first start make sure you find an instructor that you vibe well with, you want to WANT to come to class. Some people just jive better with others, we don’t take it personally as an instructor. Some clients like having one person help nurture them and build their love for Pilates, others need variety and multiple perspectives that you can benefit from each instructor. If you choose to take class with a Classical instructor and a Contemporary instructor that can get confusing, unless you know try to keep in mind which version this teacher refers to or how the springs go at different studios…there is nothing wrong with it just know you’ll be expected to remember which version for which instructor. Personally I vibe towards classical knowing the order and apparatus is the same with all Classical instructors. But you do you!
Literature by Joseph H. Pilates:
YOUR HEALTH: A corrective system of exercising that revolutionizes the entire field of physical education. https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/096149378X/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tpbk_p1_i1
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