6 Pilates Instructors Share Their Secrets For A Stronger Body

The movements in Pilates may be slow and controlled, but the benefits are far-reaching – from increased flexibility and stronger limbs to a more toned stomach and better posture. Here, we asked six Pilates instructors how to share their tips for a stronger, leaner body…
By Tor West /

Nathalie Clough

Founder Of Lifebody

Find Pockets Of Movement
“Joseph Pilates, the founder of Pilates, once said that you feel the difference with Pilates in ten sessions, see the difference after 20 sessions, and have a whole new body after 30 sessions. Pilates was designed to be portable and accessible – it can be practised anywhere. Instead of sitting on the sofa watching TV, lie on the floor and do five minutes of glute exercises. That may not sound like a lot, but over time it adds up and will change your body if done regularly.”

Hit The Mat Daily
“Results with Pilates come from consistency. The beauty of Pilates is that you can do it daily – it won’t leave you sore like other forms of exercise, meaning you can fit it in every day. Plus, the repetition of the exercises allows your muscle memory to adapt and build strength. That’s why it’s important to keep on top of your practice and not distract yourself with different exercises that claim to be ‘Pilates’ or variations of Pilates. I work out for 20-30 minutes daily. Some days, it’s a gentle stretch but for more of a challenge I’ll add in resistance bands, light hand weights and ankle weights. I’ll add in a few more reps, too.”

Do It To Become A Better Runner
“Pilates strengthens your ‘powerhouse’ – aka your abs, pelvic floor, lower back, hips and glutes. A strong ‘powerhouse’ will allow your other muscle groups to work harder for longer, which can help you become a better runner or cyclist. Where most other forms of exercise are fast-paced and activate large muscle groups (which ultimately shortens and bulks the muscles), Pilates lengthens muscles and focuses on strengthening the small, supporting muscles.”

Visit Lifebody.io

If you only use one prop, make it a pair of light DUMBELLS – THEY'RE A GAME-CHANGER when it comes to toning.

Bryony Deery

Founder Of Pilates By Bryony

Take A Holistic Approach
“Pilates isn’t just a workout – it’s a way of life. Be kind to yourself, set realistic expectations and remember that any movement is good movement. Try planning your week so you know exactly what’s in the diary and when you will exercise. Many Pilates instructors run monthly challenges, which can help you form habits. My September challenge, for example, includes some form of movement every day. Start small, build up, and you’ll be surprised how manageable it is. I also recommend adding meditation into your week, as this allows you to take time to reflect on your week and exercise your mind and soul. Eating well also makes the world of difference – eat non-processed wholefoods, and do so consistently.”

Visit PilatesByBryony.com

BRYONY DEERY
BRYONY DEERY
BREATHING PROPERLY when doing Pilates IS KEY TO SEEING RESULTS – remember your diaphragm is a muscle, too

Korin Nolan

Founder Of Power Pilates

Always Add Weights
“Resistance training is one of those things we know we should be doing, but if you’re a total beginner, it can be tricky to know where to start. Pilates is a form of strength training as it incorporates resistance training through bodyweight and other equipment such as light weights (around 1-2kg) and resistance bands, so it’s a great way to stay strong without having to lift intimidating dumbbells. If you only use one prop, make it a pair of light dumbbells – they’re a game-changer when it comes to toning. As you build strength, go slightly heavier or double up with wrist weights, but always ensure you can maintain impeccable form. When you use weights, it should feel challenging if you want to make changes to your body.”

Fuel Your Body With Protein
“If you put the effort into your workouts, it makes sense to complement this with a wholesome, nourishing diet. If you do one thing, eat more protein and less sugar, aiming for around 100g of protein daily. This will give your body the fuel it needs to repair damaged muscles after exercise, tone and strengthen, and keep you full and satiated. I add two scoops of Motion Nutrition collagen powder to my morning coffee, which contains 10g of protein, and love a hemp protein smoothie. My go-to blend is two scoops of hemp protein, peanut butter, frozen raspberries, a banana and oat milk – I have this after a Pilates workout around 11am. Don’t rely on protein bars to get your protein fix – these tend to be full of added sugar, sweeteners and unnecessary calories.”

Keep The Body Challenged
“There are so many kinds of Pilates on offer, from dynamic reformer to classic mat classes, so explore the options. When your body gets used to a certain style of training, it switches off and becomes complacent. To grow in strength, your body needs to be challenged. The same goes for Pilates – incorporate mat, reformer and equipment-based classes into your week, pushing yourself with a dynamic class when you can.”

Visit PowerPilatesUK.com

Matt McElligott

Head Of Reformer At Psycle

Embrace The Reformer
“The Pilates reformer is an amazing piece of kit, which helps you to find length and space in the body while under tension. Far from a workout just for your core, the reformer creates internal pressure to elongate the spine, joints and muscles. The reformer has the power to deliver impressive results as the benefits are endless. In a class, you could start lying down and before you know it, you’re sitting, working with straps, standing, pushing or pulling against the foot bar, or you could be doing side kicks and shoulder presses. Every move in a reformer class will have a progression and a regression, so listen to your body and make it work for you.”

Visit PsycleLondon.com

BRYONY DEERY
If you don’t have access to a reformer, INVEST IN A SMALL INFLATABLE BALL OR PILATES RING, which off-balance the body to keep the core challenged.

Amanda Caldwell

Founder Of Anthro Contrology

Think About Your Breathing
“Pilates is an entirely different species from yoga, but it’s still important to think about your breathing. Breathing properly when doing Pilates is key to seeing results – remember your diaphragm is a muscle, too. When you exhale, your abs and pelvic floor contract deeper and remain naturally stimulated. It can take a while to master, but once you do, it’ll become second nature.”

Reframe Your Thinking
“If you’re serious about seeing results, move away from focusing on large muscle groups when you exercise and instead see the body as a whole. In Pilates, no muscle gets left behind, especially when you’re on a reformer. Even when you’re on your back and your feet are in straps, your core and back are working, too. If you don’t have access to a reformer, invest in a small inflatable ball or Pilates ring, which off-balance the body to keep the core challenged. Pilates works wonders as it focuses on your small, stabilising muscles.”

Don’t Count Calories
“A reformer class burns 400-600 calories, depending on your body type and how intensely you work. You need to refuel properly afterwards to recover, repair and grow stronger. Don’t be afraid to replenish depleted stores with wholegrain carbs and healthy fats. At the same time, doing Pilates regularly not only tones and strengthens but it can also detoxify and support the body by stimulating the lymphatic system, which increases the circulation of lymphatic fluid to remove waste toxins and reduce bloating.”

Visit Anthro-Contrology.com

Jessie Blum

Founder Of Heartcore

Enjoy Your Workouts
“Of course, there’s a science behind a strong and toned body, but it’s just as important to find something you love. When I was younger, I was addicted to gruelling workouts which left me exhausted and my body shape would never change. Even though I was burning calories, my stress levels were through the roof. Move in a way that works for you – whether it’s Pilates, a long walk, yoga or a gentle jog.”

Perfect Your Posture
“Good posture improves how you function, both physically and emotionally. Think how you feel when you’re slouching compared to standing or sitting tall. A good posture literally makes you stronger from the inside out. Posture is at the heart of Pilates, moving your body in a way that develops mobility in your joints. With good posture, your weight is centred, you move safely through exercise, often doing more than you thought possible.”

Visit WeAreHeartcore.com 

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