Getting Started With Pilates


We have designed the best program for learning Pilates in our Pilates Principles Course.  This course is a prerequisite to joining Group Pilates Equipment Classes, if you are new to Pilates.  If you have previous Pilates experience, but need a little updating, our Pilates Refresher Program is perfect for you. Building a strong foundation of the fundamental techniques and movement patterns of Pilates, and related terms, will allow you to add additional layers of intensity, balance, and athleticism.  These layers, combined with coordination and fluidity, will come from repetition in Group Classes or continued Private Sessions.  We believe It is truly to your benefit to learn how to do Pilates correctly. This comes from learning the “why” behind the “how” in incremental layers. Don’t worry, you will still get an amazing workout, see valuable results, and learn important things about your body.  “The great thing about Pilates is that it is easy….unless you do it right.”- unknown

Download FAQ Everything you wanted to know about the STOTT PILATES method here!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Pilates?

The exercise system of Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 1900s. While he was held in an internment camp during World War I, he spent his time teaching other camp members the principles he had learned through many movement regimens such as yoga and zen. He incorporated the principles of breathing, fluidity and accuracy to his movement. While assisting in the hospital, he fashioned the first Reformer out of hospital bed springs to allow for resistance exercises for injured patients.

Ultimately, Joseph immigrated to the United States and opened his first studio in New York City. His techniques were quickly accepted and sought after by dancers and boxers as well as other professional athletes. After his death in 1967, his Pilates practice quickly spread across the country and was recognized as an important and beneficial part of health and fitness for anyone ranging from rehab patients to professional athletes.

Enjoy the Animated History of Joseph Pilates and further understand what makes Pilates unique!

What are the benefits of Pilates?

  • Builds core strength and stability
  • Improves posture and alignment
  • Increases flexibility, balance, and coordination
  • Improves muscular balance and strength
  • Increases muscular endurance and tone
  • Prevents injury and heightens body awareness
  • Enhances athletic performance
  • Relieves stress and back pain

What is the difference between a Pilates Mat class at my gym and classes at Aspire Pilates?

Typically, Pilates taught in a gym setting, involves large group classes where the Instructor is leading the class at the front of the room on his/her own mat.  Participants are copying the movements they see and instructions that are given from an elevated platform or stage.  Similar to other group fitness classes, the Instructor leads the class with visual instruction of his/her own movements.  In a traditional Pilates studio setting, the Instructor is not doing the exercises with the class.  They may “set up” the exercise or demonstrate a new version of a previously learned exercise.  The Instructor is then able to walk around and correct movements, or add modifications while participants are listening to cues that promote body awareness and movement. The class sizes are much smaller, and the Instructor is teaching through verbal cues and imagery.  This approach requires participants to add another “sense” to their learning by integrating what they are hearing into body movements.  This ultimately creates the mind body integration that Pilates is known for.  While participating in Pilates, there is a required concentration that improves the way the body responds by using muscle recruitment.  This concentration also provides a nice respite from thoughts and stresses of other tasks of the day.  When combines with structured deep breathing, Pilates is an awesome way to decrease stress. A common perception of participants is, “I always leave feeling better than when I walked in.”

What types of classes do you offer?

Aspire Pilates Training Center specializes in individualized attention with exceptional instruction.  In addition to Private and Semi-Private training, we provide small group classes with Pilates Equipment (Reformer, Chair, and Vertical Frame) as well as Matwork (floor exercises on a mat).  All of our classes are taught by STOTT PILATES® Certified instructors. Our Pilates equipment includes  V2 Max Plus ™ Reformers, Stability Chair, Cadillac, and Ladder Barrel.  Our Matwork classes follow traditional programming, while often incorporating Pilates props such as Foam Roller®, Flex Band®, Mini Flex Ball®, Arc Barrel®, Toning Balls®, BOSU™, Fitness Circle®, and Stability Ball®.   Props allow for exercise progressions to make an exercise more challenging, or as a modification while strength is being built.  We specialize in being able to identify and implement modifications as exercises are being learned, as well as to provide tools for all participants feel successful. Our small group classes allow for the Instructor to provide hands-on corrections, verbal cueing, and appropriate modifications.  This individualized attention is what makes our Studio unique and your workout more effective.  Remember that Pilates saying, “If it feels too easy, you are doing it wrong!”  Our goal is to help you get the very most out of every exercise and transfer that movement to activities you do every day- not just the hour you are in class.

How is STOTT PILATES® method and how is it different than other Pilates techniques?

STOTT PILATES® is a contemporary approach to the original exercise method pioneered by the late Joseph Pilates. Co-founders Moira and Lindsay G. Merrithew, along with a team of physical therapists, sports medicine and fitness professionals, have spent more than a decade refining the STOTT PILATES® method of exercise and equipment. This resulted in the inclusion of modern principles of exercise science and spinal rehabilitation, making it one of the safest and effective methods available. This clear and detailed approach forms the basis for STOTT PILATES® training and certification programs. It is used by rehab and prenatal clients, athletes, celebrities and everyone in between.

STOTT PILATES exercises help both men and women of all ages develop optimal strength, flexibility, endurance and posture, without building bulk or stressing joints.  The perfect compliment to cardiovascular exercise, athletic training or rehabilitation, STOTT PILATES can help you tone your body, feel revitalized, and move with ease.

STOTT PILATES® incorporates modern exercise principles, including contemporary thinking about spinal rehabilitation and athletic performance enhancement. For example, some approaches may promote a flat back, whereas STOTT PILATES® exercises are designed to restore the natural curves of the spine and rebalance the muscles around the joints, placing more emphasis on scapular stabilization. As well, there are more preparatory exercises and modifications to cater to many different body types and abilities, making it applicable to everyday life.

Why is it important to have a certified Pilates instructor?

Obtaining certification as a STOTT PILATES Instructor requires hundreds of hours of intensive coursework, and documented observation, physical review, and practice teaching.  The certification exam consists of a comprehensive written test as well as a practical exam, where students are graded on their ability to provide effective communication and observation skills, verbal cueing and imagery, modifications for specific body types, postural issues and conditions, theory and practice of postural analysis, and exercise layering related to effective program design.  Completion of the required STOTT PILATES coursework and practice hours, coupled with subsequent exam achievement, sets the bar for exceptional instruction.  Certified STOTT PILATES Instructors are required to complete yearly continuing education credits to maintain their certification.

At Aspire Pilates Training Center, all of our instructors are certified through STOTT PILATES®, or are apprenticing following completion of the STOTT PILATES coursework and in the process of preparing for their certification exam. Our owner is a Fully Certified STOTT PILATES Instructor as well as Instructor Trainer. Each of the instructors at our studio have been hand picked for their knowledge and dedication to Pilates instruction, as well as their desire to help people aspire to their highest health or fitness goals. You can be assured that, by choosing a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor at Aspire Pilates Training Center, you are receiving the best instruction available, dedicated to you!

How is Pilates different than yoga?

In some respects, Pilates is like Yoga. Both are considered mind body methods of movement; both emphasize deep breathing, and smooth, long movements that encourage the mind body connection. The difference is that while Yoga generally involves moving from one static pose to another, Pilates flows through a series of movements that are more dynamic, systematic and anatomically-based often incorporating resistance equipment.  The goal with a Pilates exercise is to strengthen the postural muscles while achieving optimal functional fitness.

Can Pilates help me lose weight? If so, how much?

Pilates can be a positive addition to your overall weight-loss program.  The most successful and healthy way to achieve weight loss is an exercise plan that includes an aerobic component coupled with a strength training element, such as Pilates exercise, and following a balanced diet.  Combining Pilates with cardiovascular exercise also offers additional benefits: greater mind-body connection, improved posture, flexibility and functionality.

Can anyone do Pilates?

No form of exercise is appropriate for absolutely everyone, but Pilates exercise is appropriate for most people.  As with any training program, you should always consult with a medical professional before beginning.  A modified program created by a well-trained instructor, may be recommended if you have any physical limitations.  Everyone from serious fitness enthusiasts, to rehab patients, elite athletes, and older clients will see a difference.

How often should I do Pilates?

This really depends on what you’re goals are. The basis of mastery is consistency. We recommend at least twice a week; three times a week is optimal. The great thing about Pilates is that it can be done every day in different formats. The frequency and consistency of Pilates several times a week will help you learn the technique and rhythm faster and more effectively.

We like to refer to the 10-20-30 principle of Joseph Pilates. He stated that in 10 sessions you will notice a difference in your body. In 20 sessions you and others will notice valuable results. In 30 sessions, you will have a whole new body! Now, of course, that also depends on you and what other things you do to accompany Pilates—or to hinder it. We all know that no amount of Pilates will offset daily ice cream sundaes with all the toppings!

I have a bad back. Will I be able to do Pilates?

Although you should always consult your physician before starting any fitness routine, a Pilates workout is gentle and controlled with a focus on core strength and stability.  It is also important, however, that you work with a qualified instructor to ensure you are doing the exercises correctly and avoiding movements that may not be recommended for your condition.  An experienced instructor is able to  modify the exercises to accommodate your eliminations, continually challenge you within your ability, and monitor your improvements.  Progress may be slow, but a consistent workout schedule with appropriately chosen exercises with attention and focus will ensure you see results.

How often should I do Pilates?

This really depends on what you’re goals are. The defining factor for results is consistency. Pilates exercises incorporate stabilizer muscles prior to mobilizers.  Stabilizing muscles are smaller, generally closer to the joint, and respond by subtler impulses from the brain.  We tend to override these and over-utilize the mobilizers in our daily stop-and-go lives and repetitive movement exercises.  Conscious use of stabilizer muscles creates a strong muscle memory that improves function, posture, and overall strength.  But, it does require consistency.  That is why we provide homework assignments throughout the Pilates Principles Course.  Upon completion of the 5 Private Sessions, you will have a complete basic repertoire to easily incorporate daily with your other routines or workouts.  To keep challenging these muscles and build on strength and endurance, we recommend Pilates classes or sessions at least twice a week; three times a week is optimal. The great thing about Pilates is that it can be done every day in different formats. The true goal is transferring the principles of Pilates, and subsequent muscle engagement, to activities of your daily life.  Whether that is sitting at your desk, commuting in your car, walking through the store, or your daily run, the consistent activation of stabilizing muscles (particularly core musculature) will create a muscle memory that improves overall strength and posture. We like to refer to the 10-20-30 principle of Joseph Pilates “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference; in 20 sessions you will see the difference; in 30, you’ll have a new body!

What should I wear or bring?

Wear comfortable exercise clothing. It is best to wear clothing that allows for freedom of movement, yet not too baggy that impairs the instructor’s ability to check your movement and form. Socks or bare feet are fine. Our feet provide a lot of feedback to the brain as to where the body is in space.  That is primarily why we don’t wear shoes in Pilates.  It also allows you to improve movement and strength in the small muscles of the feet.  You are welcome to bring your own water bottle. We provide all of the equipment used in class, including a Pilates mat.  However, if you are more comfortable, you may bring your own.

Will I get the same results with a Mat workout as with a Reformer or Equipment Workout?

Both methods of Pilates will train you to initiate the movements from your core musculature.  However, while you can perform the same series of exercises on the equipment that you can on the mat, the workouts are notably different, although complementary.  Matwork utilizes the body weight against gravity to provide challenge.  The Reformer, as well as other Pilates equipment, add spring resistance to the Pilates exercises to give uniform tension throughout the exercise.  This is the key difference in spring resistance, versus a free weight and creates balance between opposing muscle groups at each joint.  Mat-based workouts are very convenient and can be done anywhere. Adding the spring resistance with the equipment, will add emphasis to the arms and legs, as well as variety and intensity to each exercise. Mat exercises are intended to be foundational exercises that are then taken to the equipment. The combination of Matwork and Reformer complement and enhance one another and create a balanced exercise program. We encourage all participants to incorporate both elements in their schedule.

How does Pilates differ from weight training?

  • Pilates is three-dimensional (i.e. exercises are performed in all movement planes)
  • Spring resistance on specially-designed equipment more closely resemble muscular contraction
  • Emphasis is on concentric and eccentric contraction for injury prevention
  • STOTT PILATES exercise is customizable for special  needs
  • Emphasis is placed on rebalancing muscles around the joints, correcting over-training and muscle imbalances that lead to injury
  • Pilates emphasizes improving strength and flexibility for more efficient movement patterns
  • STOTT PILATES exercise leads to an improvement in posture and body awareness
  • Weight training and STOTT PILATES can be combined in a fitness program and are a great complement to each other

Why can't I just start in an advanced level Pilates Reformer class?

Anyone can muscle through the exercises. However, all of our experience shows us that you are simply cheating yourself from the underlying benefits of Pilates. It is far more important to do an exercise correctly than it is to do it at all. Frankly, doing an exercise slower and more controlled will ultimately make the exercise more difficult and the results far more effective than powering through them. One of the major intents and purposes of Pilates is to slow down, feel the movement, and allow the body to respond to it. Your body will look amazing and your mind will be more relaxed! Therefore, at Aspire Pilates Training Center, we encourage you to invest in your body, invest in Pilates, and build the foundation that Pilates intends.