Pilates For Dummies book cover

Pilates For Dummies

By: Ellie Herman Published: 05-20-2002

A user-friendly guide that teaches you the origins and philosophy of the Pilates method and helps you set realistic fitness goals and custom tailor a program 

Once the secret fitness weapon of professional dancers, athletes, and movie stars, Pilates is sweeping the country and becoming more popular than ever. If half of what its many fans claim is true, then it’s easy to see why. Combining elements of yoga, dance, gymnastics, and boxing, along with many original movements, Pilates exercises build muscle tone, improve flexibility and balance, lengthen the spine, increase body awareness, and repair past injuries. Most people who’ve done it, even for a short time, say they feel stronger and more energized, centered, and physically confident than ever before. They also like having the flat tummies, tight buns, and long lean thighs of a dancer. 

Pilates For Dummies is your gentle introduction to the Pilates method without the high cost of private instruction. Packed with easy-to-follow exercises an plenty of photos, it helps you develop your own Pilates fitness program to do at home or in the gym and how to use eight basic Pilates principles to get the most out of your mat-based routines. With this practical guide by your side, you can: 

  • Look and feel better than ever 
  • Get stronger, more flexible, in control, and less prone to injury 
  • Target and tone problem areas 
  • Tone and strengthen your abs, buns, thighs, and arms 
  • Repair chronic stress and sports injuries 
 

Whether you’re just starting out with Pilates or know a few exercises and want to learn more, the book covers: 

  • Basic, intermediate, and advanced mat exercises 
  • How to use Pilates exercise equipment and accessories 
  • How to target specific areas of your body including the stomach, back, thighs, and chest 
  • Pilates for the pregnant and recently pregnant body 
  • How Pilates can help heal injuries and reform your posture 
  • The fun of combining Pilates with other forms of exercise, including yoga, swimming, aerobics, and more 
 

Additionally, you’ll learn simple ways to incorporate Pilates into your everyday life, changes you can expect to see from practicing Pilates, and questions to ask if you decide to join a Pilates studio or hire a Pilates instructor. Get your copy of Pilates For Dummies to start designing a Pilates fitness program just for you. 

Articles From Pilates For Dummies

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28 results
28 results
How to Do the Pilates Balance Point Position

Article / Updated 03-23-2017

Balance Point is both a position and a fundamental exercise in Pilates. Here, you see how to form the Balance Point position, which is a basic movement that is used in many different Pilates exercises. This position teaches you that to balance with ease, you must engage your deep center. Follow these steps to form the Balance Point position in Pilates: Sit up with your knees bent and hold on to the backs of your thighs. Roll back slightly behind your tailbone, pull your belly in (your Abdominal Scoop), and lift your feet off the mat. In order to maintain your balance and stop yourself from rolling backward, you must engage and pull in your deep abdominal muscles. The Balance Point position in Pilates.

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How to Do the Pilates Levitation Position

Article / Updated 02-16-2017

When you combine a Hip-Up position in Pilates with a little low butt squeeze, you get the Levitation position. The Levitation position is a basic movement that is used in many different exercises. Lie on your back and lift up your hips with your Abdominal Scoop. At the top of the Hip-Up, squeeze your butt. You’ll feel your hips levitate, rising perceptively higher as if the hand of a goddess came down and lifted you from the heavens. The Levitation position in Pilates. Levitation is a key concept in Pilates, but don’t feel intimidated by this position. You won’t have to do anything like this until you get into the more advanced Pilates exercises.

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Stretching the Spine

Article / Updated 01-24-2017

If you've ever watched a cat, be it a house cat or a jaguar, you may have been intrigued by the cat's incredible agility and resilience. How does a cat jump from high places and land with little impact? How can a cat fit into spaces that seem way too small for it? How does a cat balance on the slimmest edge with the greatest of ease? Pilates might not give you the answer to these questions, but if you want to be more like a cat and gain the flexibility, grace, balance, and strength of a cat, Pilates is the way to go. Myth has it that Joe Pilates was obsessed with the movement of animals and used them as models when developing exercises. The following exercises use the cat as a model and are meant to stretch the spine. You may notice that the word sexy comes up in this article. Face it — having a flexible spine is sexy, and certain movements of the spine are downright sexy! These stretching exercises are not considered part of classic Pilates, but they're great for everyone. This is where you can get a little creative. Add in these exercises at any point during your day or during your workout when you feel you need to stretch out your spine. If you wake up in the morning with a stiff back or neck, spend a couple minutes doing one or two of the cat stretches. Basic Cat (beginning level) The Basic Cat is one of the gentlest and simplest ways to stretch out the back. You see cats making this movement in the morning when they wake, and you can do it too! Getting set To begin, get on all fours. Align your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Allow your back to assume its natural position, in Neutral Spine (Figure 10-1a). The exercise Inhale: Arch your back slightly, allowing your head to rise and your butt to stick up and out (Figure 10-1b). Exhale: Pull your navel in toward your spine and squeeze your butt. You begin with a Lumbar C Curve, meaning that your lower back is curved like a C, then continue rounding into the upper back. Finally, allow the head to slowly drop forward. At this point, your whole spine should be making a C shape (Figure 10-1c). Your back should be rounded to the greatest extent possible. Push your arms into the mat for extra resistance while stretching the upper back. Keep your abdominals and rib cage pulled in. Think of using this pulling action to stretch through your whole spine. Think of pulling your tail between your legs and rounding your back into a Halloween kitty pose. Inhale: Return to Neutral Spine, then go further into the arch, sticking your tail and head upward. Complete 4 repetitions. Do's and don'ts Do go for the fullest stretch in each direction. Don't hunch your shoulders. Let them relax down away from your ears. Figure 1: Basic Cat. Sexy Cat The Sexy Cat is a modification of the Basic Cat and requires a bit more coordination. Because you spiral the hips and spine, this stretch is three-dimensional and loosens up more areas of tightness than the Basic Cat. Start by doing one Basic Cat to get the flow of the spine arching and contracting. Then add a spiral in one direction with your hips, and in the opposite direction with your head and neck. Imagine the tailbone inscribing a full circle on the wall behind you in one direction, and the crown of your head inscribing a full circle on the wall in front of you in the other direction Complete 4 repetitions and then reverse the direction of the spiral for 4 more repetitions.

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How to Do Pilates Upper-Abdominal Curls

Video / Updated 03-28-2016

Upper-abdominal curls help strengthen and tone your tummy. This video shows you proper positioning and form for floor crunches, as well an upper-abdominal workout on an exercise ball.

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How to Do a Basic Pilates Cat

Video / Updated 03-28-2016

The cat position relaxes and stretches your body, specifically your back. The basic Pilates cat stretch, usually done on a mat, is one of the gentlest ways to stretch your back.

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How to Do a Basic Pilates Bridge

Video / Updated 03-28-2016

Relax and stretch your body with the basic Pilates bridge pose. The bridge position increases your flexibility, exercises your butt, and stabilizes your core. All you need is a mat.

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How to Do the Pilates Stacking the Spine Position

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Stacking the Spine — a basic movement in Pilates — is a finishing position to several exercises. It teaches articulation of the spine (full movement throughout all the vertebrae) as well as how to sit up vertically. It’s a fluid way to sit up or stand erect from a hunched-over position. Also, Stacking the Spine is a wonderful stretch for your back.

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How to Do the Pilates Basic Cat Exercise

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The Basic Cat exercise in Pilates is one of the gentlest and simplest ways to stretch out the back. You see cats making this movement in the morning when they wake, and you can do it too!

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How to Do the Pilates Roll Down Exercise

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The Roll Down exercise in Pilates is a beginning variation of the classic Pilates Roll Up. The Roll Down increases abdominal strength and articulation of the spine.

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How to Do Pilates Upper Abdominal Curls

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

The Upper Abdominal Curls movement is a fundamental exercise in Pilates, generally used as a warm-up for your upper back and neck and to get you to feel your Pilates Abdominal Position. This exercise may be difficult for you if you have weak upper abdominal muscles or a very tight upper back and neck. In either case, keep trying. If you get frustrated, just move on to the next exercise and revisit this one after a few weeks of other Pilates exercises.

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