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Bridal Fitness on Paper - Mat Pilates Monday, August 29, 2011 ~ 10:32 a.m.

Mat Pilates Hey guys! Hope you all had a great, relaxing weekend and now you're ready to jump back into your bridal fitness routine with me! :) My weekend was pretty mellow, which I definitely needed after a pretty physically challenging week for me last week. About a month ago, I actually purchased a great deal on Living Social for one month of unlimited fitness classes at YogaWorks, and the expansive schedule of classes available is definitely keeping me busy! The classes are great (I have a review or two on some of them coming up in the next several weeks!), but I think it's the variety of new workouts that's really keeping me on my toes at the moment. Haha...I wake up every morning with a new sore muscle that I never even knew that I had! It really does prove that variety is SO essential to being fit. There are so many muscles in the body, and it's pretty much impossible to work each and every one of them equally in just one (or even two) exercise routine(s). Plus, it's true what they say...variety really is the spice of life! ;)

I'm sure you noticed that I'm reviewing mat Pilates today, although I haven't yet had the opportunity to take a Pilates class at YogaWorks (trying one this week!). For the purposes of this review, I'll be referring to my experience at a Pilates studio that is locally owned in Marina Del Rey, California, called Angel City Body Kinetics. I have attended classes at this particular studio for roughly two years, although I have taken Pilates classes at other studios, as well. My first real experience with Pilates was about ten years ago, in a regular gym that offered a bunch of group fitness classes, and then I also took a Pilates class during my senior year in college, which is what really got me hooked for good! If you're clueless as to where you should go to try out Pilates, I would suggest signing up for one of those daily deal websites like the one that I mentioned earlier (Living Social), which has some really great deals on fitness classes for new customers on a regular basis. I've also heard that Groupon and Gilt City can offer some good deals in many major cities. If you want to take any fitness classes, and you're lucky enough to reside in a major city where these daily flash sales are available to you, I highly recommend signing up for at least one of these websites. I honestly haven't paid full price for a group exercise class in at least a year! Just be sure to check out the studio's reviews on Yelp first - just because it's featured on Groupon doesn't mean that it's the right place for you!

If you've never had the opportunity to try a Pilates class, I highly recommend trying it! One of its greatest strengths is its versatility - it can help people of all ages, sizes and fitness levels reach a variety of goals, whether you're trying to cure a case of Scoliosis, improve your flexibility and strength, or reduce stress. I've noticed that it's often a very non-intimidating environment in comparison to most fitness classes, where you feel like you have to keep up, while also keeping from passing out on the spin bike! Any half-decent Pilates instructor will be attentive and make sure that you know what to do, and do it correctly, throughout the class.

Mat Pilates

Overall: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Pilates is a really good workout that I would recommend to anyone - ESPECIALLY stressed out brides!

Pilates is an exercise system that focuses on improving flexibility, strength, and body awareness. Essentially, a mat Pilates class is conducted on a yoga mat (as opposed to a reformer or other piece equipment), and consists of a series of controlled movements paired with regulated breathing. I've had the opportunity to attend mat Pilates classes at a variety of studios, and while the experience can vary depending on the studio, the class level and the instructor, I've found that most studios rely on the same core exercises and techniques.

Cost & Equipment Three and a half diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
As far as most workouts go, Pilates does call for some equipment and has an added cost that say, running outside, wouldn't incur.
The cost to attend a Pilates mat class will vary depending on where you go, and I've found that most mat classes may be purchased either individually or as a package, costing anywhere between $10 and $20 each. The value of a Pilates mat class will obvious depend on where you take it, but it's good to keep in mind that if you take a Pilates class at a Pilates or yoga studio, the value often lies in the quality of the class. Everyone there - students and instructors - are completely focused and dedicated to the practice. The value of taking a Pilates class at a gym is the variety of options available to you; if you don't feel like taking Pilates, you can go run on the treadmill. Personally, I think that if you love Pilates enough to go every week, you should try to go to a Pilates or yoga studio if you have one available to you, rather than a gym. If you're still feeling it out, try taking a class at a place nearby, or go to the gym that you're already a member of to try it out.

The studio typically provides most, if not all, of the equipment that you'll use in your mat class, but it's usually a good idea to bring your own yoga mat with you. The equipment that we utilized in my class were small weights (3-5 lbs.), a mini Pilates ball, which is an AMAZING item that is most often used while performing abs, thigh and glute (a.k.a. "core") exercises, a flex band commonly used for stretching and a Magic Circle, an item that I personally love to hate for strengthening your inner and outer thighs, arms and chest area. When you attend a class, you'll also want to wear exercise clothing that is generally more fitted. This is because both you and your instructor will want to be able to constantly check your body positioning to make sure that you have proper form while performing the exercises.

Time Commitment: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Pilates is a milder fitness routine that doesn't technically require a whole lot of time each week in order to see and feel results.

Your typical Pilates class will be 45 minutes to an hour long, and I usually take about one class per week. It's important to remember that Pilates is a strengthening fitness routine, not an aerobic one, so if your fitness goals are weight loss-centric, you should still be coupling Pilates with some sort of cardio exercise. However, Pilates has many benefits that aerobic exercise doesn't including improved alignment and posture, and the prevention and soothing of many body injuries.

Level of Difficulty: Three diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
3.5 out of 5 diamonds
When it's done correctly, Pilates is significantly challenging in terms of strength, balance and flexibility, but doesn't require the same level of stamina as most cardio workouts.
I want to preface this next portion of my review with the fact that when I first started taking Pilates classes a couple of years ago, my dance background really enabled me to catch on a bit faster than most beginners would. Much like dancing, Pilates places a lot of emphasis on your body placement and requires you to be really aware of where everything goes. Learning and maintaining proper form throughout the workout is probably the most challenging part of Pilates for most, and it's definitely the kind of thing that comes with time and repetition. In this way, along with an emphasis on synchronizing your breath with the movement, Pilates is similar to yoga. For me, the biggest difference between yoga and Pilates is that Pilates has a stronger focus on physical fitness and strengthening, whereas yoga has a strong spiritual focus that goes along with the physical challenges, or yoga poses. Yoga is also much more challenging in terms of flexibility - but the flow of a Pilates class will usually be quicker and you'll really feel "the burn." Personally, I prefer Pilates to yoga because I'm not a very spiritual person, but I do enjoy a good yoga session, as well!

In my mat class, most, if not all of my exercises require me to lay down or sit on my yoga mat - there aren't many Pilates exercises that require you to stand. Typically, you focus on one section of the body at a time, including the arms, abdominals, inner and outer thighs and glutes and the back, although there's a very strong emphasis on strengthening the core throughout the class. The most common of Pilates moves include The Hundred, Rolling like a ball, Plank, Roll Down and the Single Leg Stretch. All of these moves have many different variations, which allows people of all fitness levels to do Pilates.

Effectiveness: Four diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
4 out of 5 diamonds
Keeping in mind that Pilates is not an aerobic workout, but a strengthening one, it can be very effective in soothing and preventing injury, improving strength and balance.

Because so much of Pilates is about proper form, having a good, certified Pilates instructor there to guide you is absolutely essential to getting results! Don't ever assume that someone is certified just because they're teaching Pilates! As I mentioned before, Pilates consists of a series of small, controlled movements; meaning that it's really easy to breeze through a Pilates class without getting a real workout if you're not paying close attention. You have no idea how many people I see in my classes that are just going through the paces, and leave without even breaking a sweat. Which is fine, I guess, as long as you realize that you get what you put into it. Pilates should be challenging (whether you're a beginner or an expert), and if it isn't, chances are it's because you're not paying attention to your body and maintaining proper form.

Enjoyability: Five diamond ring rating for bridal bootcamp exercise reviews
5 out of 5 diamonds
Pilates rocks. It makes you feel good inside and out, plain and simple!

Personally, I love Pilates. While I can appreciate a great hard core cardio session, Pilates does something for me that those workouts don't, and it's kind of difficult to pin point what it is, exactly. I always feel really good and energetic, even, after I finish a good Pilates workout. It helps me loosen up and stay in sync, works out any of my kinks from working at a computer so much, and calms my mind to reduce stress. Again, I don't totally rely on Pilates to stay in shape or lose weight, but it's a great supplementry workout if you have the time and funds that allows it.

If you're curious about a specific workout and you'd like for me to review it, please do leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email at Sarah - at - apaperproposal - dot - com.

Insert Comment | View Comments (3)




Melina (United States)

Aug 22, 2011 7:45 PM

I used to do pilates a lot when I was in college, but I got away from it I think because the classes were always packed at the gym and my pilates dvd's got boring! Right now I'm a huge using dumbells (for strength) and zumba (for cardio) fan!

Erika {Borrowed&Bleu} (Orlando, FL)

Aug 23, 2011 5:23 AM

Wow, awesome and detailed description of Pilates! It's so hard to know what workout is best for an individual, but your advice is great!

ana {lucky in love sf} (san francisco)

Aug 23, 2011 11:09 AM

I love this new series! and thanks for the intro to YogaWorks. I just checked out their site and love their expansive schedule! keep up the good work. it is definitely inspiring me to go out and get active!