Pilates is so hot right now! Seriously, it is one of the fastest growing forms of exercise in the U.S. So what is it all about and should you book your first class or private lesson today?

We sat down with expert Pilates instructor Denise Hurd of Pilates 360 to learn more about this popular exercise routine.

What is Pilates?

Pilates was first developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates as an exercise routine to strengthen the body and mind. The Pilates method has six principles at its core:

  • Centering
  • Concentration
  • Control
  • Precision
  • Breath
  • Flow

Although these six principles are at the foundation of Pilates, how they are incorporated into a routine can vary greatly. Denise believes that Pilates is the perfect exercise for practically everyone because of the adaptability of the movements. She notes, “we shoot for the goal of the exercise and make modifications where necessary, depending on the level and ability of each individual.”

Benefits of Pilates

Being so adaptable, Pilates can have a number of different benefits – depending on your personal fitness and health goals. Some of the key target areas include:

  • Increased flexibility
  • Muscular strength and endurance
  • Core strength
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Spinal and pelvic alignment
  • Injury prevention
  • Breath control

We asked Denise to tell us specifically how Pilates could benefit endurance athletes (runners, triathletes, cyclists). She notes, “Pilates is a great cross-training exercise to stretch, lengthen and strengthen muscles as well as for targeting any imbalances that could lead to injury. And because it is a full-body focused exercise that emphasizes quality over quantity, no muscle group is under or over-trained.” Sounds to us like something everyone needs to incorporate into their weekly routine!

Image courtesy of Pilates 360

What to Expect

Starting something new is often nerve-racking. We asked Denise to give us a quick run-down of what first-timers can expect.

Mat or Equipment: Pilates is either done on a mat on the floor or with specifically designed equipment. Many of the local Austin Pilates studios offer both options and you may want to try both before you decide on your favorite approach!

Learn First: Because Pilates requires an understanding of the foundation principles and many of the movements will be new to first-time students, you will probably want to start with a beginner-class or private instruction.

How Often: Best results are often seen with 2-3 classes per week. But, depending on your goals, Pilates once-a-week could be just what you need!

Find Your Pilates Fit: Just as with all fitness programs, not all Pilates instructors or studios are created equal. Here are 5 things to consider when finding your Pilates fit:

(1) Instructor certifications
(2) Location
(3) Types of classes offered: Privates, Duets, Small Group
(4) Mat or Equipment/Reformer
(5) Payment options: per class fee or monthly membership

Sample Beginner Pilates Workout

Want a better sense of what you’d be getting into? Check out this series of beginner Pilates exercises on About.com: http://pilates.about.com/od/pilatesmat/tp/BeginnerExercises.htm


To get an even better sense of what people are saying about Pilates and it’s benefits, we asked Denise to compile a few testimonials from her own Pilates clients. Here’s what they had to say:

Pilates 360 has a friendly atmosphere and all levels of classes from advanced equipment to the fundamental floor workouts are excellent.  I’ve tried many different workouts but only pilates has kept me strong, flexible and toned throughout my 50s – I am hooked!   Denise Hurd, my advanced instructor, brings humor and challenge to every workout.  Thank you Pilates 360! –Rosalind

Suffering after a back surgery I got introduced to Pilates and Denise, which changed my life. Just after a few month I’m out again running and enjoying activity. Denise always had the passion, the patience and the tenacity to get me well in short time. I feel better now and will never give it up. – Dagmar K.

Denise came highly recommended to me from a well-known Pilates instructor in Tennessee, and I’ve been working with her for a month now. I am a runner, but I have a hard time committing to other types of exercise that help balance my workouts.  Pilates has given me the strength and balance that I don’t get from running.  It has helped build my core strength, and an unexpected benefit has been the great workout it’s given my upper body.  I leave my sessions with Denise feeling like I’ve had a serious workout, and I look forward to getting stronger with each visit. -Kelly L

Learn more about expert Pilates instructor Denise Hurd and Pilates 360

Visit Denise & Pilates 360 online at MyFitList and on their website. You can also follow Pilates 360 on Facebook!

Perk alert! MyFitCard holders get 3 private pilates sessions for $150 at Pilates 360! Must present MyFitCard at time of purchase and must be new to Pilates 360. MyFitCard gives you deals and discounts, like this, at fitness businesses all over town. Get your MyFitCard today!


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