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Pilates is a physical fitness system based on controlled movements putting emphasis on alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination and balance. The core (or powerhouse), consisting of the muscles of the abdomen, low back, and hips, is thought to be the key to a person's stability.

Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty from beginner to advanced or to any other level, and also in terms of the instructor and practitioner's specific goals and/or limitations. Intensity can be increased over time as the body adapts itself to the exercises.

You can think of yoga, but without the spiritual aspects.



The breathing in Pilates is meant the to be deeper, with full inhalations and complete exhalations. In order to keep the lower abdominals close to the spine, the breathing needs to be directed to the back and sides of the lower rib cage. When exhaling, you need to squeeze out the lungs as they would wring a wet towel dry. To do that you need to contract the deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, feeling your bellybutton going to your back and a little bit up. When inhaling you need to maintain this engagement to keep the core in control.

The difficult part comes when you try to properly coordinate this breathing practice with the exercise movement, breathes out with the effort and in on the return.

This technique is important as it increases the intake of oxygen and the circulation of this oxygenated blood to every part of the body, cleaning and invigorating it.


It demands intense focus, as you need to be aware of the position of each part of your body, and how they move to precisely do the exercise.


You don't see many quick movements, most of the exercises are anaerobic. The difficult relies on controlling your muscles to do what you want them to while they fight against gravity, springs and other torture tools.


Pilates aims for elegant economy of movement, creating flow through the use of appropriate transitions. Once precision has been achieved, the exercises are intended to flow within and into each other in order to build strength and stamina.

A smoothly doing a roll down (from seated position with your legs straight, slowly lay down, vertebrae by vertebrae) is a difficult challenge, as you need every muscle to coordinate to share the load of the weight. The muscles that we use more are stronger, and some of them are barely used, Pilates positions and slow transitions force you to use those weak, forgotten muscles, and when the load is transferred from the strong to the weak, your body starts shaking or breaks the movement rate thus breaking the flow.

Even though it looks silly, it's tough.

Postural alignment

Being more aware of your body by bringing to it's limits with each exercise, seeing where it fails, strengthening the weak muscles and practicing flow and control results in a better postural alignment.


The focus is on doing one precise and perfect movement, rather than many halfhearted ones. The goal is for this precision to eventually become second nature and carry over into everyday life as grace and economy of movement.


Correct muscle firing patterns and improved mental concentration are enhanced with relaxation.


Stamina is increased through the gradual strengthening of your body, and with the increasing precision of the motion, making them more efficient so there is less stress to perform the exercises.


  • Feet in flex: your toes go away from your shins, so your foot follows your shin line.


I'm going to annotate the exercises I like most, probably the name is incorrect and the explanation not perfect. If you do them, please be careful, and in case of doubt ask a Pilates teacher.

Swing from table

Lvl 0:

  • Starting position (Inhale): Start at step 1 of the table.
  • Step 1 (Exhale): Instead of going to the mat, when exhaling move your ass between your arms without touching the mat until it's behind them. Round your spine in the process. You'll feel a nice spine movement similar to the cat - cow movement.
  • Return (Inhale): Slowly go back to starting position.

Lvl 1:

  • Starting position (Inhale): Start at step 1 of the table with one leg straight in the air, in the same line as your shoulders, hips and knee.
  • Step 1 (Exhale): Similar to Lvl 0 but make sure that the heel of the foot doesn't touch the mat, feet in flex.
  • Return (Inhale): Slowly go back to starting position, do X repetitions and then switch to the other foot.

Lvl 2:

  • Starting position (Inhale): Start at step 1 of the inverted plank.
  • Step 1 (Exhale): Similar to Lvl 0.
  • Return (Inhale): Slowly go back to starting position.

Lvl 3:

Similar to Lvl 2 with the leg up like Lvl 1.

I've found that Lvl 2 and Lvl 3 give a less pleasant spine rub.


  • Starting position (Exhale): Sit in your mat with your legs parallel, knees bent and your feet at two or three fists from your ass, hands on the mat behind you, fingers pointing to your ass.

    If you have shoulder aches, you can point the fingers at 45 degrees or away from your ass. * Step 1 (Inhale): Slowly move your ass up until your shoulders, knees and hips are on the same line. To avoid neck pain, keep your chin down so you're looking at your knees. Your knees should be over your ankles and your arms should be extended. * Return (Exhale): Slowly come back to the starting position.