“A man is as young as his spinal column.” – Joseph Pilates
About 16 months ago I started practicing Pilates regularly online. That just means that I watch videos and work out at home. I decided to go this route because I needed something flexible to meet my ever-changing work schedule as a contractor. After 121 hours of classes I have made it to the highest level of difficulty and feel great, but still have a long way to go.
This is a secret personal victory. Last year I set an intention to learn more about myself. I had been struggling to find work I was passionate about and realized that I didn’t really know what I wanted. Most things lacked intellectual challenge and creativity. While I talked to a lot of friends and attempted various self-help methods to discover new goals, Pilates snuck in under the radar to become my first secret victory; secret because I did it at home and hardly talked about it. At the time it didn’t seem as important as career success and girls, but I needed something that I felt was under my control so I kept doing it.
I started practicing without any specific goal, but somehow it turned into a habit. Now, no matter what kinds of problems I’m facing in the rest of my life, I always feel a little success each day. My lower back pain has largely dissipated, my posture has improved, and I have muscle definition where before there was none. Here are four reasons I think Pilates has stuck with me:
- Duration – It only takes an hour and once you get to the advanced-level classes, many are only 30 minutes long.
- Novelty – One key to sticking with difficult or strenuous activities is surprise. If I know what’s coming next I’m much more likely to avoid it. Pilates Anytime has a large enough database that I can take a new class every day.
- Coaching - The hardest thing about my day-to-day work as an independent contractor is deciding what to do next. Taking a Pilates class feels like having a break where someone else tells me what to do for a while.
- Reward – I’ve become really good at making smoothies and always look forward to one at the end of my workout.
I still have a long way to go. About a year after I started practicing I began feeling flow in the movement. Instead of just feeling pain I can now observe myself and consider form and energy. That being said, a part of me still hates Pilates. My hamstrings are very tight, parts of me are still weak, and I scream profanities several times during each class.
Why I like taking Pilates online. Did I mention that I scream profanities during class?
- Price – a monthly subscription to Pilates Anytime costs less than a single class in person.
- Availability – I can take a class of any level or duration at any time.
- Quality – There are about 50 different instructors and I have found several that I really like.
- Method – The form in Pilates is very precise and it might be easy to create bad habits practicing on your own. That being said, the instructors at the classes I’ve been to in person haven’t found any problems with my form.
- Peer Support – Any time I get overwhelmed at home, I can take a break. If I were in a class with other people I would probably push myself harder. Thanks, Ego.
- Community – I already spend a lot of time on my own working as an independent contractor (Sound Engineer, Online Content Manager) and I’m probably missing out on making new relationships at a local Pilates studio. That’s why I try to go to an AcroYoga class once a week for guaranteed physical interaction.
My favorite classes.
- Jennifer Kries – Waking Energy – Level 1/2 – This is a fun 20min warm-up that is great to prepare for a full class or just recover from a night of drinking or traveling when energy levels are low.
- Tom McCook – Level 2 – A really nice long slow class with some great explanations of why you should relieve stress before working out.
- Michael Fritzke and Ton Voogt – Level 3 – I really like the pace and unique combination of moves in this one.
- Ed Botha – Cardio Pilates – Level 3 – Cardio Pilates? This is what happens when you put 10 squat thrusts and pushups in between every set of Pilates exercises. Get ready for sore thighs. And profanities.
Clothing and Props. Who cares about your outfit? No one is watching. Props are fun, though, and will allow you to take more classes that use them. I have a Magic Circle and a Thera-band and use them regularly to modify exercises and stretch my poor hamstrings. I bought a fitness ball, but only used it a couple of times. It seemed like a great idea, but I haven’t run into many classes that use it.
Bonus Tips. Pilates is hard. Especially for someone like me who had never worked out before. Try it for a year. Seriously. That’s how long it took me to find my stride. If you are into yoga, I’ve found that Pilates is a great complement to it. While I really feel Pilates in my core, I feel Yoga in my extremities and soul.
“Pilates is fun. I’m a dancer and I used to fight, so yeah, you should listen to me.” – Kathryn Ross Nash