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Pilates Practice - How Much Should You Be Doing and How to Make it Work for You?



"How often should I be doing this?" This is a question I get asked a lot, from clients in both my group classes and private studio.


As with any form of exercise, consistency is absolutely key to seeing results. If you dip in and out of your sessions you will struggle to see much progress, whereas consistent practice will give you much better and more noticeable results.


In Joseph Pilates's book "Return to Life Through Contrology" he writes "If you will faithfully perform your Contrology exercises regularly only 4 times a week for just 3 months as outlined in RETURN TO LIFE, you will find your body development approaching the ideal , accompanies by renewed mental vigour and spiritual enhancement."[1].

It is claimed that to workout at Joseph Pilates' Contrology gym in New York you had to commit to attending sessions 3 times per week for 3 months. He had strong beliefs in the benefit of his method and knew that you only get out what you put in. If those signing up to his gym were to receive the best results they had to be committed to their practice.


I would say that in an ideal world 3 times per week is a pretty spot on recommendation. BUT in reality our lifestyles today can make this seem an impossible task onto of the pressures of work and family life. So if consistency is key, how do we make this work when "spare" time is scarce and even the best laid plans can easily crumble?


First of all, look at what is reasonably achievable for you. This may vary depending on your lifestyle, commitments, finances, geography. Also think about what those 3-4 sessions could like. It doesn't necessarily mean attending 3 or 4 formal classes or private sessions every week. That would be lovely but how many of us can really achieve that? Very few I imagine. So look at your circumstances and find a pathway that works for you:

  • If physically getting out of the house to attend classes/sessions is going to be challenging for you how about attending a live online session that you can join from home.

  • If committing to a set time slot is difficult then how about following a pre-recorded video in your own time.

  • If finding a whole 30-60 minutes can be tricky (I hear you!) how about fitting in some short "movement snacks" into your day; either a 10 minute workout video if you have time or just a quick exercise or 2 that you can fit into your day.

  • If you attend private sessions, cost can quickly mount up. Why not supplement your time in the studio with group classes or online/video content.


Even with the very best intentions sometimes it can go wrong. Don't beat yourself up over it. One missed session isn't the end of the world. Try to approach a missed session with positive forward thinking. So you didn't make it to your class today? That's OK. What can you do instead to stay positive and committed? Is there an alternative class you could attend this week instead? Or could you do an online class or pre-recorded video to keep you on track? Even if you can't catch up, it's OK. What is more important is that the single missed session doesn't become several missed sessions, as that is much more challenging to come back from. If it does, try not to delay getting back into it. As a Pilates Teacher I understand that sometimes life gets in the way and I will always be very happy to see you back in class, no matter how long it has been.


However you choose to fit in your Pilates practice I would recommend trying to fit in a face to face class/session at least once per week if you can. There is so much benefit to regular teacher observation and guidance in your practice. Even as a teacher myself I KNOW that when I attend an in-person training session I will always work 100 times harder than when doing my own self practice. My teacher will always be able to pick me up on things I may miss when practicing alone!


The entire structure and being of Precision Poise is built around the knowledge that my clients are usually very busy people, jugging work and family life and desperately trying to carve out just a little bit of time for themselves. Therefore I try to structure the Precision Poise offering around this.

  • I run a book as you go system for group classes (except postnatal). If you cannot make your regular class on any given week why not book into an alternative class. If your plans change last minute, ask me about transferring your booking to an alternative session that week.

  • I encourage advance bookings and offer a discount when 6 or more classes/sessions are booked in a single booking. If a session is booked into your diary you are much more likely to stay committed and not find a reason to skip it "just this once".

  • If you are a Poised Member you also have regular online live Workout Together group sessions with me that you can join from home and a library of specially pre-recorded videos and audio content to help you fit home practice around your own schedule.


So in short yes, at least 3 times per week is a great target to work for...but what that looks like and how you fit that into your week can be as flexible as you need it to be so that it works for you.


*Contrology is the term Joseph Pilates used to describe his method of body wellness. It was renamed "Pilates" after his death.


References:

[1] Return to Life Through Contrology. 1945. Joseph H Pilates.