Focus On: Pilates

Hi there!
This is Cassey over at Perhaps you’ve worked out with me on YouTube, had me kick your booty in the POP Pilates: Butt Blaster workout or banish your muffin tops in my Uh-Oh! Obliques routine. I am thrilled to be sharing my Pilates addiction with you guys today.


Like Gina, I am also a group fitness instructor, but I lurk over in the Mind Body studio 😉 I’ve been practicing and teaching Pilates mat for quite a while now – think back to when Mari Winsor first started infiltrating our late weekday mornings with her Winsor Pilates infomercials. I found them to be very entertaining…entertaining enough for me to buy a DVD set and then end up being an instructor years later! I guess it did it’s job.

Naturally, over the years to keep things fresh and fun, I’ve created my own format called POP Pilates that’s been mentioned in magazines like COSMOPOLITAN.

It’s basically Pilates and Pilates-inspired moves set to contemporary Top 40 Hits. Today, I teach classical Pilates, POP Pilates, and Pilates Reformer. We will talk about all 3 today, but let’s start with the basics, shall we?
What is it?
Pilates is a mind body exercise that challenges your core while sculpting longer and leaner muscles, resulting in a toned dancer-like look. Joseph Pilates first developed the method back in the early to mid 1900s originally for rehabilitating POWs. He then later modified his program for injured dancers. The idea is that a stronger core or "powerhouse" enhances your posture and alignment, which ultimately results in optimal physical performance. The core muscles are defined as the deep, internal muscles of the abs and back that help to stabilize your torso.
Lucky for us exercise enthusiasts, the Pilates method was later brought to light, hitting the fitness industry by storm. That’s why in recent years, the practice has become very popular with the celebs. It looks good on camera! Famous Pilates starlets include Reese Witherspoon, Mandy Moore, and Megan Fox just to name a few.
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What’s the difference between Pilates and Yoga?
I want to dispel the myth that Pilates and Yoga are "the same" or come from the same roots. Simply untrue! Although both stress the importance of breath, control, flexibility, and strength, the origins and ultimate practices are different. The beginnings of yoga are somewhat unclear, but there’s evidence that shows that it may have been practiced as early as 3000 B.C. in areas that are now India and Pakistan. Yoga was developed mainly through the religious practices of Hinduism and Buddhism. Pilates has a much shorter history, being developed by Joseph Pilates after he served as a nurse in World War I. Below is a great chart (Venn diagram style!) that breaks down the similarities and contrasts between the two. You can read more about the differences here in an older blog post I did if you’re curious.
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What to expect?
Expect this: soreness in muscles you didn’t even know you had!
When most people refer to Pilates they are usually talking about mat Pilates. But, the practice can be performed on various apparatuses like the Reformer, Chair, Barrel, and Cadillac. The lessons on these machines can be quite costly but they provide a very exquisite experience to working out.

Mat Pilates is the most common and most accessible type of Pilates that can be found at pretty much every gym nowadays. All you need is you, a yoga mat, and some willpower to push through some of the best "burning" sensations you will ever experience. Mat work is usually performed with little to no equipment. For the most part this is a body weight exercise that will tone you up and slim you down. I recommend attending at least 2-3 one hour classes a week to see a difference in just two weeks. The first thing you’ll notice is your taller posture. My coworkers use to always point out my amazingly straight back as I worked in front of my computer. My chiropractor even asked me for the secret to keeping my spine so aligned. People even think I’m taller than I actually am. I owe it to Pilates! Seriously!
You will also notice a flatter belly. Yes. Well what did you expect out of a workout focused around your core?! If you get a chance to attend a Pilates class, I can guarantee that your instructor will say something along the lines of "suck you belly button into your spine." The reason why we stress this is because we want you to develop nice FLAT abs. Ever see those people that seem ripped but then they turn to the side and their abs are actually protruding? Well, by constantly "sucking in" we train our abs to tighten the way we want them to look. FLAT.

If you’re liking what you’re reading and are going nuts because you can’t get to a class right this instant, no worries! You can try it at home. Right now. Stop reading. Get down on the floor and follow along with me in this POP Pilates for Beginners video. It’s a full length total body Classical or Traditional mat workout. I explain a lot of key principles here so it’s perfect for those of you that are new to the practice:

Too easy? Fine. Then for you advanced Pilates enthusiasts, check out one of my FAVORITE videos, the POP Pilates: New Body Makeover for your legs, abs, and arms.

What to wear?
So happy I get to write on this 🙂
Pilates people and Yogis sometimes are the luckiest when it comes to fitness fashion because we have uber stylish brands like Lululemon that cater especially to the mind body crowd. In general, you will want to wear anything stretchy, breathable, and form fitting. You’ll see most girls in yoga pants and a cami or tank top like this:

Make sure your clothing IS NOT SEE-THROUGH. Not that you would ever intentionally try to be that scandalous at the gym…or would you!?
Just kidding.
Anyway! Pilates involves a ton of stretching and posing in sometimes very awkward positions, so you need to be sure that the fabrication of your clothing is of good quality. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of girls in cute capris that are very unaware that their pants don’t pass the "squat test". Please tell me you do the squat test before you buy any workout pants. If you don’t already, then do it now: put your pants on, face your booty to the mirror and squat low. Then look back. Does your underwear show? ‘Nough said.


Try to stay away from the plain cotton pants. They always fail. Lycra and supplex fabrics work wonders for me. You can find squat test worthy pants at Lululemon, Lucy, and online retailers like
The pros:

  • Noticeably taller posture
  • Stronger core a.k.a. amazing abs!
  • Long, lean muscles
  • Overall toned dancer-like look
  • You can do it at home with little to no equipment!
  • Cute fitness clothes 😉

The cons:

  • Pilates can be very expensive if you go to Pilates-specific studios for training, especially if you begin practicing on the apparatus

That’s all I’ve got for you today. Thanks so much Gina for letting me share my love of Pilates with your fans. Hope you guys enjoyed reading the post!
<3 Cassey

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  1. Jess@atasteofconfidence on July 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks for the link to the vids, I will definitely be using them!

  2. Ali @ urbanfruitbat on July 14, 2011 at 1:02 am

    What an awesome post! I am a yogi, but I am now TOTALLY inspired to pick pilates back up! This post had so much information, and I am going to be doing those work outs asap! Thank you so much for this focus on!! OH, and just a side note, Yoga was not founded in Hinduism, it is its own thing!

  3. Amy @ Muffin Top Exercises on August 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Love your blog!

    I had no idea that pilates was used to rehabilitate POWs – I’m definitely going to use that one in conversation some time. I haven’t really gotten into pilates yet, but after reading this article I think I’m going to!


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