The Idea and Practice of Pilates as a Complete System

Have you ever done Pilates? If so, what type? Was it a group class? Did you make the carpet, the reformer, or some other appliance entirely? Although Pilates is everywhere these days, many of the pieces are missing. And unless you've done everything and done it in a carefully crafted workout, you're missing the most important identifying element of the method: the idea and practice of Pilates as a complete system.

The Pilates system

A system is defined as individual units working together, or an organized scheme or method. In a proper Pilates class, this means that the individual parts of the workout are defined. These parties must work together in an organized manner to achieve specific goals. These minimum standards, no matter what type or brand of Pilates you like, dictate that all quality Pilates training incorporates these elements.

How does it look?

Your complete Pilates training format includes a mat, a reformer, and usually two additional equipment that your instructor selects during your workout to enhance, intensify, and manage your unique body challenges.

There are three types of Pilates chairs, three types of Pilates barrels, a large table known as a Cadillac, pedi-posts, and many more to choose from to satisfy a complete Pilates workout.
Together, each device improves the performance of all other devices in a sleek and powerful system. You get stronger and better with each workout faster than you could be limited to a single Pilates device.

The mat is important for developing good form and progressions.

Bodyweight trainers will tell you that with good form and progressions, you don't need any accessories. Joe Pilates understood the value of bodyweight training. Using nothing but positions and leverage, you can take advantage of gravity to train your entire body.

The classic Pilates mat takes your body through all planes of motion and adapts to all joints. The system uses simple compound movements and repetition to perform a full body workout. Even the transitions are smooth and fluid, meaning the original work was never intended to give you a break. The whole routine works like a dance or martial arts routine that doesn't stop until it's over. It's fluid, efficient, and sweaty too.

If you are in the rut of reform classes or choose to train only with a specific device like the Cadillac or the wunda chair, there is no excuse not to go further in the system. Start practicing the mat at home on your own. Fifteen minutes a day is all it takes. Following the basic list that Joseph Pilates drew is ideal.

The systems approach really matters

The purpose of Pilates is to prepare you for real life. Specifically, he achieves this through cross-training for himself. Can't make a move on a team or on the mat? No problem. There are a dozen variations in the studio that put each move backwards and forwards.

Pilates is a sophisticated training method designed to be practiced as a system.

Push-ups are performed on the floor, on a mobile platform, even on a pedal. You will practice all the elements of a movement and discover what is limited or weak to finally master that elusive movement.

What if you don't have access to all the equipment?

Find it if you can. Dedicated Pilates studios often host teacher training programs and need volunteers to practice. Novice instructors routinely offer inexpensive sessions where you can experience full-picture pilates.

If you can't get to a fully equipped studio, gather your practice. You can take a reformer class on Monday, work at home on the carpet on Wednesday, and try a tower class on the third day of practice. There are big differences in the different Pilates exercises available, but trying the method as a system should be on your Pilates to-do list.

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