After a year full of never-ending twists and undeniable challenges, making or trying to keep any New Year’s resolutions in 2021 might sound naïve or even too aspirational. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t at least try.
After all, if we learned anything from 2020 it’s to take care of ourselves, so if you’re thinking about coddling yourself with a plank, teaser or swan dive, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tricks to maximize your Pilates practice at home. Best of all, you won’t need a Reformer apparatus and it doesn’t really matter whether you’re new to the practice or getting back to the mat.
Pilates Resources Online
As with so many other things, YouTube is the perfect place to start with your Pilates exploration since there are lots of free classes available. Start with short classes of 15-30 minutes that can help you figure out whether Pilates is right for you. That’s also a good way to discover engaging and easy to follow instructors that’ll keep you motivated.
If you miss going to your local Pilates studio check with them to see if they are offering streaming classes since many independently owned businesses are finding new ways to reach out to their communities. The app MindBody is also a good place to see what online classes are available. Some of the classes on MindBody are also available as livestreams, which can be a good way to keep you more accountable.
If accountability is a big factor for you, explore subscription services like Pilates Anytime, which has an ample catalog of recorded classes and lets you search by level, duration and even instructor. It costs $18 a month and has a 15-day free trial. Plus, you can decide to follow their classes on your tablet, computer or TV by using a Roku, Chromecast or Apple TV to access Pilates Anytime.
And that’s not all: The popular subscription workout service Peloton made Pilates available among their classes back in December 2020. Lack of content shouldn’t be an excuse to not try Pilates in 2021.
Choose the Right Level for You
Improved core strength and stability, as well as improved posture, balance and flexibility, are among the benefits of this low-impact exercise. But don’t underestimate Pilates. You’ll feel some soreness if you’re new to it — even if most of the time you’ll only be working with your own weight.
Make sure to choose classes that match your fitness level and knowledge of the practice. If you were a regular Pilates adept but haven’t been practicing for a while, don’t assume you’ll be at the same level as the last time you were on the mat. If you’re already in good shape but new to Pilates, you should still opt for a beginner’s level class at first. That’ll allow you to learn the Pilates lingo.
And yes, the “don’t get too ambitious too soon” is also good advice for yogis. Yoga and Pilates do share some DNA. Both disciplines encompass all levels of intensity, from highly physical practices to restorative ones. Both use the pupil’s body weight as a source of resistance. But you should start seeing the differences between them early on. For starters, there’s no Shavasana at the end of a Pilates session, which in general is far less spiritual than yoga.
Since online classes lack the benefit of having a real-life instructor correcting your posture or giving you tips, think about doing your own monitoring. Practice in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone so that you can review the footage later. It’s a good way to make sure you’re exercising the right way.
Invest in Some Equipment
Once you feel comfortable with the practice, and after a few sessions, you can start thinking about taking it to the next level. Does your mat provide enough cushion? Does trying tabletop legs while balancing on a ball sound enticing? What about adding a resistance band to your legs while you’re in a bridge pose? Or gripping a Pilates ring when you do your roll up?
Working out with certain equipment — like light weights for your ankles and wrists — adds some resistance to this bodyweight-based type of exercise. In a way, it imitates the benefits of using a Reformer, which uses pulleys and springs to create resistance and sculpt your body.
Be Constant and Keep Yourself Motivated
Get the motivation juices going. Make room for your mat and set up a nice inviting spot for your practice at home. Go as far as staging a gym area if that’s going to make your practice more enjoyable. Consider practicing on your patio or in your backyard if the weather is nice and you have some outdoor space.
Think about ways to keep yourself engaged and make your new workout a part of your routine. You can set a Zoom joint practice session with friends to motivate one another. Scheduling your Pilates session on your calendar as if it were a work meeting might also do the trick.
What about attire? If dressing up with the latest athleisure keeps you motivated, think about your next Pilates class as the perfect occasion to rock some leg warmers or an ’80s inspired bodysuit. Whatever it takes so that you stick to your new fitness goal. Be constant and don’t give up.
And if you fall off the exercise wagon for a few days or even weeks or months, don’t give it up completely. Just get back into the routine as soon as you feel comfortable doing it. You should be ready for the Hundred now. Also, don’t forget to breathe.