Good Moves

Don’t Squish That Blueberry! And Other Tips To Help You Master the Pilates Basics Before Your First Class

From the tiny movements to the long holds and rhythmic breathing, it can be intimidating to step onto the Pilates mat for the first time. So much of the work is about engaging your muscles—sometimes in nearly invisible ways. How are you supposed to know if you’re doing it right?

Whether you’re a first-timer or a more experienced Pilates practitioner, teacher Chloe de Winter of Go Chlo Pilates is here to bring it back to basics.

“Pilates is everywhere at the moment,” de Winter says. “I’m going to tell you what it actually is and introduce you to some of the main Pilates exercises you will do in class.”

De Winter explains that Pilates is about working both internal stabilizer muscles and the larger, more visible muscles. To do that, you’ll want to pair your breath with your movement, so you’re engaging deep internal core muscles that support your lower back and hips, and then you'll build on that with bigger movements like leg raises. By squeezing your abs as you exhale—and placing your hand on your stomach to feel that tautness—you’ll begin to understand how to work your core, which is the foundation of most Pilates moves.

One of the most common phrases you'll hear in Pilates classes is to find a “neutral spine.” De Winter explains that that means you're resting on your back with just enough space between your lower spine and the floor so that you could fit a blueberry between them. As you go through core moves like leg lifts and tabletops, your back will want to overarch or flatten. The key to doing the move the right way is by not squishing the blueberry, and not letting it roll away.

In just 10 minutes, you’ll go through these and a few other Pilates basics that will have you ready to hit the mat. Remember to breathe!

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