Pilates – The Basics

By Hassania Sadek, Wahat Hilli Mall, Fitness First Senior GX instructor and Personal Trainer

What is Pilates?
Pilates classes work to balance all muscle groups’ strength and flexibility, with an emphasis on challenging the core muscles with each movement. Pilates is a challenging, yet safe method, to sculpt your body and to feel increased agility in your everyday movements.

What are the benefits of Pilates?
Joseph Pilates (creator of Pilates) believed that mental and physical health were essential to one another, creating what is a method of total body conditioning. Pilates uses correct alignment, centering, concentration, control, precision, breathing, and flowing movement (the Pilates principles) to establish a perfect working body from the inside out. Pilates classes build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine. Pilates has a focus on the core which can basically be thought of as the ‘powerhouse’ of your body. The focus on strengthening the core and improving postural awareness are especially well indicated for the alleviation and prevention
of back, neck and joint pain.

What is the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
Both Pilates and Yoga can offer help in rebounding physically. For example, for individuals with physical injuries, Pilates has been a tried a tested method of reducing physical pain and recovering from injury. Yoga, on the other hand, has been often used as part of mental and emotional rehabilitation.

What equipment is required?
A mat, magic circles, rollers, bands, sticks, balls etc… Then there is larger equipment like a: reformer, cadillac, chair, barrels, arcs and corrector foot. Even though there are many different types of pilates equipment available to the practice, it is best to first understand your body mechanics so that you can decide what types of equipment you want to utilise. It is always best to work with a certified Pilates instructor.

Pilates movements
In Pilates we work on different angles of the body. Here you will find some of them:


Goal: Activate the core, learn how to keep core, hip and legs stable during arm movement.

Execution: Lie on the back, bend the legs and close it to activate the central line. Arms up, inhale 5 beats and the exhale until you reach 100 beats.

Spine stretch

Goal: Improve spine mobility and core strength.

Execution: Seat legs stretch, toes facing up and arms stretch parallel to the floor. Create space between each vertebrae as you inhale and curve your upper spine as you exhale.

Swan dive

Goal: Increase back mobility and scapula mobilisation.

Execution: Lie down with your belly facing the floor, arms bend, palms under shoulders on the floor. Lift your head and chest up as you inhale, with your scapula going down. The upper back muscles and ‘power house’ will be activated here. Then return to the initial position as you exhale.

Side bend

Goal: Shoulder stability and obliques workout.

Execution: Sit on your side, legs bent, elbow under shoulder on the floor. Exhale hip and arm up. Come back to the initial position as you inhale