The Mind-Body Benefits of Pilates

February 16, 2022

You’ve likely heard of the core-strengthening, posture-enhancing powers of Pilates. Is it really all it’s cracked up to be? The short answer is — YES! This full-body workout can change the way you move and build strength at the same time. 

At Columbia Gym, we offer both Mat and Reformer classes so you can experience the magic of Pilates in various formats. Here’s what you should know before your first class!


Mat Pilates 

You may be wondering about the difference between Pilates and yoga. They do have some crossover, like a shared emphasis on breathwork and stress relief, but there’s also some major differences. While there’s tons of different styles of yoga, Pilates has fewer variations and uses specific targeted movements to build strength and flexibility. 

If you’re totally new to Pilates, Mat Pilates is a great place to start…not that it’s easy! Because it uses bodyweight exercises, it can help you learn how to control and engage your muscles without the assistance of any equipment. As a low-impact workout, it primarily targets your core and surrounding muscles.

While the movements might seem small, they definitely get your heart pumping — and you’ll feel muscle groups you never knew you had the next day! Pilates essentially helps you engage your entire body from the moment you start moving. There’s also a focus on connecting your movements to your breath, which is why it’s excellent for encouraging relaxation. 

“My recent physical exam was proof of the power of Pilates! My new doctor asked me to perform several exercises to assess my flexibility and balance, including standing on one leg. He was amazed that I could do it easily on both sides. He said he’s never had a 79-year old-patient who can do that! I told him, ‘It’s the Pilates.'” -Judy Dye, CA member

Reformer Pilates

As you might have guessed, Reformer Pilates is practiced on the Reformer machine instead of the mat. The Reformer is a bed-like frame that moves back and forth on a track (and admittedly looks a bit medieval). We promise it’s not as intimidating as it looks! You can think of the Reformer as a support system for your body.

The Reformer has springs, which can be adjusted for varying levels of resistance. The frame has shoulder blocks on it that keep you from sliding off the end, and the other end has an adjustable bar called the footbar.

It’s also an extremely versatile piece of equipment: Exercises can be done in a prone position, sitting or standing. You can pull the straps, push the footbar, or rest on the ​footbar or shoulder blocks. In short, you’ll never get bored! 

Get Pilates strong at CA

Both Mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates deepen your mind-body connection, improve postural alignment and build strength in your core, which translates to more graceful and efficient movements in your day to day.

Our fully-equipped studio at Columbia Gym is ready for you! Pilates programs are open to CA members and non-members.

Here’s a few tips for your first class:

  • Loose-fitting clothes can get in your way, so it’s a good idea to wear a more form-fitting outfit (i.e. leggings or yoga pants).
  • Grippy socks are your best friend in Reformer Pilates! You can also go barefoot, but the grips help prevent your feet from slipping.
  • Remember to bring a water bottle. Whichever format you choose, you’ll work up a sweat!
  • If you have any physical ailments or injuries, you’ll want to arrive early and talk to the instructor before class starts. Our experienced instructors will make it a priority to keep you safe with personalized modifications.

Learn more about the class packages and programs offered at CA here.

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