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Stuff I Love: For Pilates


Friday, January 04, 2008

Pilates is a staple of my workout program. I teach Pilates 3 times per week, and I really enjoy it. Don't get me wrong—I'm the type of exerciser who really loves a challenge. And I think that is why Pilates appeals to me so much. Sure, it's a gentler form of exercise, and you aren't meant to work to "exhaustion" during Pilates, but its mind-body components, along with its slower, more controlled pace appeals to me. It's all about precision—executing moves with control, grace and perfection. It takes intense focus to do properly, and when I leave a class, I feel energized, calm, centered—and like I did "do something," even if it wasn't the most intense something ever.

So for anyone interested in taking up Pilates classes or trying a few DVDs, here are a few of my own recommendations for Pilates accessories, books, and more.


1. Premium Eco Yoga Mat ($50): Because Pilates exercises are done on a mat, you need one with good cushioning. Look for a Pilates-specific mat (which is thicker than a standard yoga mat), or a "premium" or "extra thick" yoga mat to best cushion your spine and joints during Pilates exercises. Mine is an eco yoga mat from Gaiam.com , which is made of rubber (not the environmentally destructive PVC). I prefer bringing and using my own mat when I teach and take classes.




2. Workout Capri Pants ($20+): I always exercise in fitted, stretchy, breathable Capri pants. When doing Pilates, wearing gym shorts can be distracting and uncomfortable since they tend to slide up throughout your workout, and might not keep you as covered as you'd like during certain exercises and movements. I love my Nike Athlete Capri pants (on sale now!), and they're super comfortable during Pilates and everything else.





3. No Show Socks ($3+): Although most people don’t wear socks or shoes during Pilates, I occasionally run into a student who prefers to wear socks during class. Keep in mind that, depending on the exercises you'll be doing, socks can increase your risk of slipping, although a good mat (mentioned above) will minimize that risk. I love these no-show socks . They pretty much cover just your foot's sole, heel and toes. They're very lightweight, made of a mesh-like fabric (not as slippery as a thick cotton sock), and I've worn them during Pilates without any issues, and I wear them for all kinds of other workouts too.






4. Prem Joshua's Dakini Lounge CD ($17): I love this CD and use it all the time in my Pilates classes. If you're working on your own, I highly recommend it for your Pilates and yoga practices.








5. Pilates: Body In Motion by Alycea Ungaro ($10): I'm very impressed with Alycea Ungaro's books. I highly recommend this one for anyone who is just beginning Pilates, and even those who are more experienced. It has wonderfully detailed pictures, and complete workouts for every level of fitness. It's a great compliment to the classes or DVDs you might do, since in my experience, many instructors don't give the level of detail and instructions necessary for their students to really perfect their form.




6. Pilates for Beginners DVD ($13): This DVD, with instructor Jillian Hessel, is one of the best introductions to Pilates that I've ever come across. It really focuses on the fundamentals—all the key concepts that you should master and focus on when doing your Pilates routine. This is a great one for men and women, as it explains differences between the sexes and how that affects your posture and exercises. If you don't have access to a Pilates instructor, then this is a pretty good substitute for the basics.




7. Pilates Body Bands ($12+): Body bands offer three things: 1) the possibility to make some exercises (such as the roll up or teaser) easier 2) the option to make other exercises (such as lower body work) more challenging by adding resistance, and 3) the addition of brand new exercises to your program (such as biceps curls and chest exercises) that you couldn't do without bands. Light or Medium resistance bands will work well for most people, and there are several workout DVDs available that will show you how to use them (I recommend Ellie Herman's Pilates Props Workbook ). When buying body bands, look for ones made specifically for Pilates —about 5 feet long, wide and flat.


There you have it! For more information on Pilates, check out my article "A Skeptic's Guide to Pilates" and look for some new workout videos coming to SparkPeople soon!

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=801
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
MARBLES29 1/31/2010 4:00PM

  Thanks so much for this information. I have seen more than one woman say that pilates was what helped them tone up there abs after baby Thanks :)

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MYCUTEGIZMO 10/12/2009 12:33PM

  i don't quite like them but really good one!

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DREMARGRL 10/9/2009 10:16AM

    Thanks for being here for everyone, Nicole. I have exercised and danced for years and found some of the added "changeups" on some of my old favorites are SUPERB! For instance, the squats with added side kicks...etc. By tweaking some of the old staples, I have found them my NEW FAVORITES! Thank you for making suggestions and giving all the informative tips. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your work! XO
THE OLE GIRL......Mary Ann emoticon

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BAMALAKEGIRL30 7/26/2009 7:03PM

    I have incoporated Pilates into my workouts and I love it. I really do feel the difference and also its relaxing. I think everyone should try it. They'd really be surprised.

Comment edited on: 7/26/2009 7:04:21 PM

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MERANA 7/26/2009 6:03PM

  Add a pilates ring for strength training and additional advanced pilates moves.

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ONMYWAYTOGOAL 6/10/2009 9:38AM

    Awesome blog! I've been interested in pliates, but intimidated at the same time. With your advice I think I'm up to trying it, thank you!!!

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BOOPSTER69 5/9/2009 1:27PM

    Thanks Coach Nicole - I have been tempted to test out a Pilates class and your information just reinforces that temptation. Your info is great and I want to check out the music. Thanks for everything.

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CUDEAR1 5/6/2009 10:21AM

    hi Nicole, I am an instructor too - have been for about 6 years (3 times a week) and it never gets easier, but then I'd be out of a job :).

I think pilates can be done aerobicly, using pacing and progression. You can also intensify the exercises to encorporate the other ab muscles in a 55 minute class.

Have you updated your music selection lately? I need some new stuff.

Thank you for all your video's I watch and use them often.

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PISCES-SNAKE 9/7/2008 4:54AM

    I found your info really helpful Nicole, thank you! emoticon

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ANG41368 7/24/2008 8:47AM

    Great information, thanks! I have one question though, do you ever use the Fitball/mini ball. I own one and use it for crunches but would like to see some more exercises utilizing it.

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JIBBIE49 4/21/2008 3:58PM

    Thank you for that wonderful CD, as the music is just beautiful. I've buy that soon. emoticon

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MAG1955 2/13/2008 3:36PM

    Great blog page

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MARNE94 1/18/2008 1:43PM

    Very nice. Thank you for the info. I do have a question though. I have had two hip replacements, one just recently. Is there still a way I can do pilates???

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