Pilates Pros Share Their Training Tips
Pilates Pros Share Their Training Tips

Pilates Pros Share Their Training Tips

Nothing delivers results like Pilates. Hence it’s the workout of choice for anyone after a sculpted physique, better posture, more flexibility and a solid core. We went to five leading instructors to discover their training tips for maximising those results…
By Tor West

Nathalie Clough

Founder Of Lifebody

Be Patient

“Pilates is based around several core principles – breath, concentration, precision, control, flow and centring. What makes Pilates so incredible and effective is the repetition of these principles as well as the repetition of similar exercises, which allow the body to learn and build strength from the inside out. Joseph Pilates – the founder of Pilates – highlighted that we must work from the core, which is where all our power and movement comes from. When it does, you get an effective workout as you are stronger and more connected. If you nail this concept, you’ll build a stronger, more resilient body over time.”

Opt For Classical Pilates

“There are many Pilates practices out there; if you’re a beginner it can be tricky to know where to start. Ideally look for an instructor trained in classical Pilates. Joseph Pilates designed the method to encompass various pieces of apparatus, so if an instructor doesn’t know how to use something, you’re missing a huge part of the jigsaw.”

Do It For Life

“Pilates is a lifetime practice. Think of it like a video game: to unlock a level, you must first understand and complete the level before. Success comes from understanding how the exercises work and the connections between them. You can see significant changes immediately after starting, and this is how the practice is able to keep giving when you are 70, if you’ve suffered an injury, or after you’ve had a baby. The fact Pilates is so efficient throughout all stages of life is the reason it’s so sought after. In fact, Pilates has built me back several times – after slipping a disc when I was 15, a serious car accident in my 20s and surviving the 2004 tsunami.”


Prepare For A Challenging Workout

“Pilates may be slower in pace than other workouts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. Pilates targets the smaller muscle groups, which not only play a fundamental role in supporting the larger muscle groups but also kickstart toning for longer, leaner muscles. If you head to a classical Pilates class that’s based on the reformer, you’ll tone quickly.”

Practise The Hundred

“The Pilates Hundred is a classic mat exercise. It’s also one of the most challenging and dynamic moves in the mat repertoire, and is often used in the warm-up. It’s exactly 100 pumps of your arms performed with cued breaths of inhales and exhales. It builds heat quickly, primes the body and activates the core. If you do one ab exercise, make it this. I have a client who does it religiously every morning and has been free from back pain for over a year.”

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Louise Buttler

Founder Of Live Brave

Focus On Quality, Not Quantity

“Pilates works you from the tip of your toes to the top of your head. You activate every muscle, ligament and tendon in the body with each exercise. With its focus on form, you get more bang for your buck per exercise in Pilates than with other forms of exercise. In fact, it’s a method that proves intense, stress-inducing HIIT classes aren’t necessary for getting toned and strong. Classes are structured around intelligent movement that engages your slow-twitch muscle fibres – these are the muscles that create definition and tone. Think quality not quantity – movements are focused around small, repetitive movements that achieve maximum results.”

Add Resistance

“Equipment can advance the level of your workout and supercharge results. Try a small, squishy ball, looped resistance bands or a pair of light hand weights. As you build strength, go heavier or layer dumbbells with wrist weights, but always make sure you can maintain perfect form. When you use weights, it should feel challenging if you want to see changes to your body.”

Think Holistically

“Pilates is a lifestyle – it brings awareness into our bodies, which helps us to be more conscious of how much we’re moving and what we’re eating. That’s why it’s referred to as a practice – you need to practise it daily for the best results. Even ten minutes makes a difference.”


Breathe Properly

“In Pilates, movement facilitates breathing and breathing facilitates movement – the two are closely linked. Breathing with awareness can encourage you into a position and push you further. For example, if you’re trying to extend your spine, inhaling will help you. Breathing is also how we engage the core and therefore strengthen those muscles. Most incredibly, breathing correctly can help you drop a dress size. Over time, the ribcage can become misaligned, but if we breathe properly we can realign the ribcage and instantly drop a dress size without losing weight.”

Use It To Relieve Pain

“Pilates is fantastic as it heals injured bodies and strengthens otherwise ‘healthy’ bodies – it’s no coincidence that there’s a lot of crossover between the positions used in physiotherapy and those of Pilates. If you’re struggling with lower back pain, positions such as bridge will help with strengthening the glutes and hamstrings. It’s also a great way to realign and rebalance muscles that are shortened over time, especially if you spend all day sat at a desk.”

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Aimee Victoria Long

Pilates PT

Take A Full-Body Approach

“Another factor that makes Pilates unique is that it works the side of the body. In the gym, we tend to only work the front or the back of the body, but targeting the sides also works muscles like your obliques, adductors and abductors, which make Pilates a great way to sculpt and tone the waist. When practising Pilates, you bear weight through the body in one way or another – for example, holding a plank will bring tone and strength from the shoulders through to the abs. Pilates builds strength and improves flexibility as it works on the tiny connections that may not seem important, but can make a significant difference to overall strength.”

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Eloise Skinner

Pilates PT At Third Space

Master Some Basic Moves

“Pilates is best done consistently – a few classes a week is great, or even a short daily home routine along with some group classes. Don’t expect an immediate transformation, though, as Pilates works on deep muscle groups that strengthen over time. A classic core move is a criss-cross: lying on your back, interlacing your hands behind your head and gently drawing your chin to your chest, bringing one knee towards your chest and extending your opposite leg, and then swapping knees taking your opposite elbow to the opposite knee as you bring each knee in. Or try a plank with leg lift: taking a plank position, lift one leg in turn up into the line of the spine, holding for a count of three before swapping legs.”


Perfect Your Posture

“A roll-down from standing is a great exercise to promote good posture and spinal alignment. Starting in a standing position with the feet hip-distance apart and the spine lengthened, tuck the chin to the chest and roll slowly down the spine. As you reach a forward-folding position, think about ‘scooping’ or ‘hollowing out’ the lower belly, so that the spine curves in a gentle rounded shape. Take a few breaths at the bottom (bending the knees if necessary), then roll back up, one vertebra at a time.”

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Chrissy Sundt

PT At Silver Linings Live

Do It To Enhance Performance

“While Pilates is brilliant for rehabilitation from injury, surgery or pregnancy, it’s also a time-tested way to maintain a strong, healthy body. In just a short time, it will give you better posture, more body awareness and a stronger, leaner core. Most of my clients tell me Pilates helps them improve at their other sports – tennis, golf and skiing in particular – as you’re working from your core. People who do Pilates are also less prone to injuries.”

Find A Good Teacher

“Take the time to find a great instructor who can work with your body. Sometimes small tweaks to an exercise can be game-changing – a slight rotation here or a different grip there will look small, but you’ll reap the rewards over time.”


Roll Out Your Back

“Lower back pain is one of the most common issues I see with clients. If this sounds familiar, get into the habit of rolling out your back morning and evening. The spine needs to move, but desk-based jobs, long commutes or constantly lifting heavy toddlers can take their toll. Take a few minutes to lie on a soft surface like a mat or rug and roll the knees side to side, hugging them and circling the knees to massage the lower back and improve blood flow to the area.”

Don’t Be Afraid To Push Yourself

“The Pilates technique builds active stretching into the exercises, so you don’t need to include a specific cool-down at the end. As you strengthen the body you’ll also be stretching and increasing your range of movement – it’s clever stuff. Always aim for the greatest range of movement you can find. If you hold back, you’ll never fully stretch a muscle. This way, you’ll gently increase the range of motion over time. Work with your breath so the correct muscles contract and others are allowed to release. If you hold your breath, everything goes ‘tight’.”

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DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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