Pilates mat vs. Pilates equipment: which is better?

lindafitClients new to Pilates often ask, “which is Pilates, the mat or the equipment?” Well the answer is BOTH! And both are excellent ways to strengthen your core, increase strength and flexibility and tone the entire body.

What is known today as “Pilates” began as a series of mat exercises Joseph Pilates created to rehabilitate himself and others. He later expanded these fitness and rehabilitative ideas to develop equipment out of hospital beds by attaching springs to bed frames or walls and supports overhead. Thus, bed-ridden individuals could begin to strengthen their muscles with support and without the misaligning effects of gravity.

Linda Farrell of LindaFit Pilates is a beautiful example of the effectiveness of Pilates mat work. “Over the years, the mat has become my preferred workout due to its convenience and portability,” Linda states. “As my professional life has demanded more of my time and energy, I have been happy to discover that I can still sneak in my Pilates mat workout — even for only 15 minutes — between classes, meeting and teacher trainings.” Linda has been known to squeeze in workouts anywhere from beaches to airport terminals! As Linda says, “the simplicity of the mat with its minimum set-up requirements and continuous flowing nature has seduced me, so to speak, and is my preferred Pilates workout.”

But don’t let this “simplicity” fool you! Pilates mat work can actually be harder than the equipment work. Individuals who can successfully complete an hour of advanced Pilates mat work are truly strong people! Because the mat requires you to support your own body weight constantly, mat exercises can be very challenging, especially for those with tight lower backs or limited flexibility. We enjoy the support that the equipment provides. Those who feel they can’t “do” the Pilates mat exercise properly can have more success with the equipment.

teaser-on-cadillacThe beloved (or notorious) “Teaser” is a great example of an exercise that is far more challenging on the mat than it is on the Cadillac. On the mat, you must articulate your spine off the mat, lifting your head, shoulders and legs all smoothly and beautifully without any assistance. If you have a tight lower back or abs that aren’t yet strong enough, you know how impossible this is! But the Cadillac helps you accomplish this move as the springs coming from above assist you.

For great mat classes throughout the city taught by Linda Farrell, visit LindaFit.com for a schedule. For mat and equipment workouts online, visit UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com or come by our studio, Pilates on Fifth.

Photos: Above, Linda Farrell of LindaFit Pilates. Below, Katherine and Kimberly Corp of Ultimate Pilates Workouts and Pilates on Fifth.


March 4, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Pilates on Fifth Postings, Pilates Posts, The Pilates Center of New York Postings, UltimatePilatesWorkouts.com Postings.

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