Effective Pilates workouts require a certified instructor's discerning eye. But when life's commitments interfere with your ability to get to the studio, online Pilates workouts may offer an acceptable alternative. Hundreds of pictorial, animated and video Pilates workouts populate the Internet -- but only some provide accurate, effective instruction.
Selecting a Workout
Check the creator's credentials before you select an online Pilates workout. Choose websites designed by certified instructors from respected organizations. Your personal learning style also determines the best type of site for your purposes. If you learn best with verbal instructions, choose websites that offer online videos or podcasts. Physical learners, who learn best by experimenting with different ways of performing a movement, do well with photos or animations, which give them time to "play" with the movement before proceeding to the next exercise.
Warm-ups and Pre-Pilates
Joseph Pilates usually worked with professional athletes and dancers. When the technique hit mainstream fitness centers in the 1990s, the general population found it difficult to perform some of the exercises. The Pilates warm-up, also called pre-Pilates exercise concept, evolved in the late 20th century. These exercises help you find the postural alignment necessary for effective Pilates exercise performance. Moira Stott, who created the Stott Pilates method, features 16 warmup and pre-Pilates exercises on the Stott Pilates website. The website features photos with short but precise instructions.
Balanced Body, a Pilates equipment manufacturer, also sponsors Balanced Body University, an educational program for Pilates instructors. The Balanced Body University website features podcasts of different types of Pilates equipment. Choose between podcasts geared toward Pilates enthusiasts, instructors, rehabilitation specialists and athletes. The podcast lineup stars certified, well-known Pilates instructors, who often present at fitness industry conferences. Equipment includes the reformer, the chair, the barrel, the fitness circle and the arc. A few of the podcasts demonstrate stability ball and foam roller Pilates exercises.
Twin sisters and certified Pilates instructors Katherine and Kimberly Corp own Pilates on Fifth in New York City. The former Rockettes developed a series of highly innovative Pilates exercises, performed on balance equipment such as the stability ball, the bosu, which is a half-ball, as well as exercises performed with resistance bands and medicine balls. One sister instructs the exercise, while the other demonstrates. Instructions are clear and precise, and form is meticulous. Both women are tall, slim and have long limbs, making it easy to see what muscles they use. The sisters frequently add new exercises.
If you can not afford Pilates equipment sessions, certain types of resistance bands and tubes offer a viable alternative. These tubes attach to a door jamb, and feature separate attachments for your hands and feet. The LiveExercise.com website has an online channel that features home Pilates exercises using this type of tubing device. They offer three free, weekly workouts, but archive each of the sessions. A fast and free registration process provides access to all of the exercise videos. Certified instructor and Florida studio owner Shannon Lents leads the workouts.