Whether it’s due to the COVID-19 pandemic or simply the desire for an efficient, convenient, and cost-effective Pilates practice, more and more of us are working out at home in front of a screen. While at-home, taped workouts have been around since Jane Fonda’s iconic videos debuted in the 1980s, today’s streaming fitness options are more sophisticated, varied, and accessible. The devices we watch them on have evolved as well, to the point that everyone can access an endless supply of new content on a device that fits in their back pocket. Read on to discover how to optimize your Pilates practice at home.
Before beginning an online practice, it’s ideal to have a few in-person Pilates sessions or Mat classes with an instructor. You’ll learn how to work correctly (for example, by pulling the abdominals in rather than pushing them out when you are in the curl position). An instructor can also show you modifications for your individual body and skill set. If that’s not possible due to COVID-19 or because your budget doesn’t allow for it, don’t worry. You can look for online workouts designed for beginners.
For the best experience, use a supported device and have the minimum recommended internet connection speed. You can stream Pilates Anytime on your cell phone, laptop, or desktop computer, tablet, or TV. Simply connect to your Pilates Anytime account via the App. The minimum download bandwidth we suggest for streaming videos is 15 mbps. If you are using a mobile device or computer, please visit Speedtest.net to test your speed. If your connection is slower than you expect, try troubleshooting connection issues to help improve your speed.
Before you start your workout, take a moment to find the best spot for your device. Ideally, you won’t have to move either the device or your head once you hit “play.” Depending upon the size of your device, you might prop it on the floor beside or in front of your Mat, on a chair, or even a pile of books. The now-ubiquitous “selfie-stands” that clamp to a surface or have their own adjustable tripod stands can also help keep your cell phone or tablet in view. You may want to place your Mat facing your device and then move your Mat when you switch from supine Mat work (lying on your back) to side-lying exercises. You can also change your orientation to the screen when you switch from supine to prone (facedown) position.
When you are taking a streaming class, try to listen for verbal cues instead of looking at the instructor on the screen. Pilates Anytime instructors pride themselves on their clear, accessible cueing because their classes are planned and filmed with the streaming experience in mind. With practice, you should begin to be able to just listen instead of watching the screen, even if you are a natural “visual learner” instead of an “auditory learner.” When performing exercises in which the hips are higher than the head (think Shoulder Bridge and Rollover on the Mat and Short Spine Massage on the Reformer), it’s actually contraindicated to move the head because you could injure the delicate cervical spine. So turn the volume up and keep your ears and mind open!
Once you have your device positioned, make sure that you have enough space to workout without bumping into any coffee tables, lamps, chairs, or bookshelves. Think about what’s overhead as well as on either side of you. Lie on your back and spread your arms and legs wide as if you’re making snow angels. Try doing a big, sweeping Single Leg Circle with one leg and then the other. If you can do all of that with no interference, you should be good to go.
While nothing beats the convenience of streaming a workout, the unpredictable nature of your Internet may present the occasional challenge. If your workout gets interrupted mid-flow, you can try the following. Switch to another class (try loading up your queue with some trusty favorites for just this occurrence). Try watching your video on a different device (on your phone, instead of your smart TV). If that doesn’t work, just keep moving! If you’ve been working out with Pilates Anytime for a while, you’ll likely have a sense of where the instructor is headed. If you’ve completed the Series of Five sequence, flip over and work on back extension (Swan, Swimming). Knock out a quick set of Side Kicks and some Push Ups and you’ve got a full-body workout under your belt. Use tech challenges as a way to develop autonomy in your workout.
While many workouts on Pilates Anytime don’t require any equipment or props other than a Mat, there are three props that can elevate your workout and add variety. Best of all, these offer a lot of bang for your buck. A Theraband is a long, stretchy band, available in varying levels of resistance, that can be used for stretching and strengthening. An Overball is a squishy inflated ball that punches above its weight in the versatility department, providing support and resistance, depending on the exercise. Finally, perhaps the most well known and versatile of all the Pilates props, the Magic Circle is a deceptively simple tool that has endless uses. Any or all of these will keep boredom away.
Which brings us to one of the biggest challenges of streaming workouts: how can you stay motivated when working out without a teacher? Put your workouts on your calendar, make it a non-negotiable habit like brushing your teeth, change up your area of focus (upper body, strength, flexibility, etc.), and remember how good you’ll feel when you’re done.
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