1. Keep your abdominals engaged. It sounds simple, but many people forget this basic fundamental of Pilates. Having your core pulled “in and up” while performing the exercises ensures you are getting the most benefit.
2. Create length. Whether on the mat or utilizing springs, reach away from the body. Try to imagine drawing your shoulder blades down your back and when reaching your legs away...think of reaching out of your waistline as you perform the exercises. Elongation of the muscles helps create the unique Pilates body that the Method is so famous for.
3. Keep your shoulders down. What good is strong core if your shoulders are up by your ears? The shoulder girdle is the secondary “powerhouse” and as such, is a vital part of your body and practice. Try to be conscious of them rising.
4. Breathe. Don’t worry so much about inhaling and exhaling on cue, as much as just breathing. Many people hold their breath while exercising, which inhibits movement and actually makes any exercise harder.
5. Alignment. Be aware of the negative space around you, whether on the mat or reformer. Center yourself so that there is equal distance on either side of you. Symmetry is crucial to creating a balanced body.
6. Lift your head. With all these mobile devices more and more people are developing “forward head syndrome” from constantly looking down. Create better posture by keeping your head up and chest lifted.
7. Use the mirror. The mirror is a tool. Use it. Are you rotated to one side? How’s that alignment? You can learn a lot about your body just by watching your movements.
8. Mix it up. Often people ask, what’s harder, apparatus or mat? The truth is they’re BOTH hard. Moving your own body weight around can be very challenging. Same with the springs. If you only do mat, take a few tower classes or vice versa. You’ll be amazed at how different each varies from the other.
9. Be consistent: As with anything, the more dedicated you are to your practice the more visible the results. Make an appointment with yourself to schedule in your sessions and then keep it! Consistency is the key to change!
10. Respect your body: Every day is different. You may be on fire one day and tired the next. That’s ok. It’s not a competition. Do what you can and congratulate yourself for trying. If you’ve set foot in the studio, you’ve already won.