Last year NY Magazine made an uncharacteristic stir (note the sarcasm) when it proclaimed a Pilates Apocalypse. Basically, with the rise of boutique studios, pilates, the original boutique studio, was going bust. I have to admit, in reading the article, I totally got what they were saying and, I kind of agree. Basically, the issue with pilates is that it doesn’t provide the same edgy experience or the same sweaty workout you get with the likes of spin classes at Flywheel and Soul Cycle or barre classes like Physique 57 and barre3. Not only that, the newer boutique fitness studios cater to those who want to feel pampered, prestigious and enjoy their workout surroundings, something that was maybe not a huge focus in opening the traditional pilates studio.
But does this mean pilates is dead? Maybe not, but the article did have a good point in that people are looking for more out of a pilates workout. I don’t disagree. I’m looking for more!! It seems to me that in order for pilates to survive, it needs to transform itself from the traditional purist pilates to a more amped up, fitness focused pilates that attracts those looking to feel the burn and see the results.
While this may not happen overnight, I have a few tips on how you can amp up your traditional pilates workout!
Add Resistance. One of the best ways to amplify your pilates workout is to add a bit of resistance. Now you can definitely get a great mat workout using your own body weight, but if you want to kick it up a notch, why not try using a playground ball, some weights or a resistance band? Check out my recommended pilates equipment here for more options!
Compound Movements. A great way to make your workout more difficult is to do more at once! Try putting together some traditional pilates moves like bridge with non-traditional moves like a chest fly. Or add some pushups to your planks!
Use Quick Transitions. Don’t spend a lot of time in between exercises but quickly transition from one exercise to the next. Pilates is meant to flow and you should take that to heart! Keep moving through the movements doing them slow and controlled and then quickly transitioning to the next one.
Pulse It Out. One of the reasons barre has become so popular is that it is so easy to feel the burn from the small movements that occur right in the work zone. You know, that zone where you start to shake and quake. Well, there is absolutely no reason why pilates can’t offer the same thing. Add some pulses on to your leg pull down or side kick series. Or even just get into your work zone and hold it!
Stand Up and Add Some Cardio. We all think of pilates is this modality where you just lie on the mat and move around a bit. Well, I spend almost half of my pilates classes standing up! Why? Because gravity is a great resistance tool and there is no need to stay on your back. Move your legs, include your arms, work your balance and engage your core while standing up! And don’t be afraid to add in some cardio moves like rolling like a ball to a stand or jump, plank jacks or even just doing some intense leg work like plies.
Readers, what are your thoughts on the pilates apocalypse? How do you amp up your workouts?
This is so interesting because I never really gave much thought to it! However, I’m a firm believer in making a class work for YOU. As an instructor for so many years, I always taught to the highest ability of the class but, as a class participant, I sometimes had to take matters into my own hands and make the class work for ME! This is great advice for any class!
I’m totally with you on #5.. I love adding some cardio bursts to lower impact workouts like pilates! Sometimes when I do yoga at home, I’ll add in cardio moves to get my heart rate up a bit. I like to sweat during my workouts!
This is great advice. I admit, I’m completely awful at pilates. When I want to up a workout, I incorporate my toddler into it. She’s 20 lbs so I deadlift her, lunge with her, and play a game where we both squat. That, or I just take her to the backyard and chase her around.
I loved reading what you wrote about this subject. Your Pilates Mat class was the first I took of its kind. You do a great job exhibiting those tips in your online classes. Its more of an intense Pilates workout that you might not usually experience because of it.
I took ONE pilates class in my entire life and I have to admit–I was so bored. I do terribly at classes like this that have no music or forces me to sit still. It’s why I love hot yoga–there is music, and the heat keeps me busy. These are great tips!