Pilates for beginners: Explore the core

Pilates may sound intimidating, but it's an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Pilates isn't just for fitness fanatics. It's actually an accessible way to build strength in your core muscles for better posture, balance and flexibility. If you're considering a Pilates class for beginners, here's what you need to know before you head to the gym.

What exactly is Pilates?

Pilates is a method of exercise that consists of low-impact flexibility and muscular strength and endurance movements. Pilates emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance. Pilates is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed the exercises in the 1920s.

A Pilates routine generally includes exercises that promote core strength and stability, muscle control and endurance, including exercises that stress proper posture and movement patterns and balanced flexibility and strength.

Can beginners do Pilates?

It's a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes or professional dancers. While these groups first adopted Pilates, they aren't the only ones who can benefit from this approach to strength training.

Another common misperception is that Pilates requires specialized equipment. Maybe you've seen a Pilates apparatus — called a Reformer — that looks like a bed frame with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs, or perhaps you've seen a type of trapeze table. But, don't let those machines intimidate you.

The reality is that many Pilates exercises can be done on the floor with just a mat.

What are the benefits of Pilates?

By practicing Pilates regularly, you can achieve a number of health benefits, including:

  • Improved core strength and stability
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Improved flexibility
  • Prevention and treatment of back pain
Aug. 18, 2016 See more In-depth