The Importance of Clothing for Movement During Pilates

Young woman athlete doing a god of war yoga pose in a stretching exercise

The Importance of Clothing for Movement During Pilates

By Dominic Pereira

Pilates is all about form and intentional movement, so when it comes to having a successful session, anything that can restrict or limit your motion is best avoided. Keep this in mind when choosing an outfit for your next session.

The Importance of Movement and Form in Pilates

Pilates is a series of low-impact exercises to help strengthen your stabilising and mobilising muscles to improve movement, posture and flexibility.

Pilates is about creating body awareness and in so doing it helps you to understand where you are in space (proprioception), to control your movements, and hence move better.

For you to get the most out of your Pilates session, your instructor must be able to observe your form and posture, helping you make minor adjustments as needed. With this in mind, the ideal Pilates outfit must be form-fitting, as very baggy clothing makes it more difficult for your instructor to see your movement and also for you to move well. However, it’s equally important that you are comfortable physically and psychologically in what you are wearing. So skin-tight clothing is not necessary! If you’re not comfortable about how you look then you won’t move with ease either.

“It’s equally important that you are comfortable physically and psychologically in what you are wearing.”

Ideal Pilates clothing

Footwear

According to Jessica Schatz, certified master Pilates instructor and integrative wellness coach:

“Kinetic energy starts from the ground up, and wearing sneakers will restrict some of the movements. Barefoot activities like Pilates can be more beneficial for balance and posture, as well as help prevent injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis.”

Pilates is best done barefoot or wearing non-slip Pilates socks, depending on your session type. For example, your reformer session will benefit significantly from the extra grip you get from socks. Many studios will insist on socks for the sake of hygiene and safety.

Comfort is Key

Another essential aspect to keep in mind is your comfort. Pilates involves a lot of different movements and positions, which ill-fitting clothing can hinder. Imagine squatting in pants that are too tight or having your legs up in the air when your loose, flowing pants legs come tumbling down.
A woman performing a difficult Pilates pose.

Another aspect of comfort is breathable fabric for when sessions get sweaty or during summer. In winter it’s a great idea to layer up and then peel off as you warm up 🙂

While there are plenty of things to consider when it comes to Pilates, if you manage to strike a balance between form, flexibility and comfort, you’re well on your way to a great session.

“Our activewear should enhance our movement sessions, not hinder mind or body!”

Join a Pilates Class at moveOn 89 ​

At moveOn 89, we offer both group and individual Pilates classes with skilled instructors, ready to help you with your form and posture to have the best session. Book a class today!

References

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The 6 Principles of Pilates

6 Principles of Pilates

The 6 Principles of Pilates

By Dominic Pereira

Joseph H. Pilates once said, “Concentrate on the correct movements each time you exercise, lest you do them improperly and thus lose all vital benefits of their value.

After such wisdom from the Pilates Guru himself, take a moment to re-evaluate how you approach your health and fitness regime. Do you mostly skip your workouts because you’re too tired or too busy or do you try to fit in a “quick session” to keep up with your busy schedule? Or do you make enough time in your day to take care of your body and mind? And by “time” I don’t mean hours, even just 20 minutes of mindful movement daily can be beneficial.

We get it; life is not always willing to take a break with you; it is constantly on the move, so you might feel like you need to go with the flow or in this case the gushing rush. And in so doing don’t we often choose quantity over quality? How many reps can we get in under a minute instead of how the quality of the movements to ensure intelligent movement resulting in mind-body improvements and not just aesthetics?

6 Principles of Pilates

Apart from being known for its ability to strengthen your “core” or as we prefer to say, “structural integrity”, Pilates also focuses on six principles, including concentration, control, centre, flow, precision, and breath. Although these principles might sound completely unrelated, they are all infused into every movement.

At moveOn 89, these principles are essential to our philosophy, especially BREATH. Let’s look at each principle below:

1. Concentration

We know the mind often wanders to all the to-dos from your daily tasks at work that are up, what supplies the kids might need for school, if your pup has enough treats and walkies, etc. It can all so easily consume our thoughts, no matter what we are busy with!

Which makes the first principle we would like to focus on rather challenging! Concentration. An essential element of Pilates is focusing or concentrating your mind AND body during each movement. This can be HARD. You will be focusing on the burn one moment; then, your thoughts take you elsewhere when that gets too much, perhaps resulting in you losing just that bit of focus needed to ensure your form is optimal and you complete the set. We often give up just before the end because we lose focus.

Bringing your full attention to each exercise and committing will ensure you maximise the value it brings your body. PLUS, as a bonus, by practising concentration and bringing awareness to your movement you will also practising mindfulness which has many de-stressing benefits.

Capturing that elusive concentration and focus can be hard, yes, but by listening to and following your breath, focusing your attention to where the movement is happening and what you want to achieve with the movement, can all help to keep you “in the moment”.

2. Control

Being in control of your body (and mind) is another essential element of Pilates. As we learnt from concentration, focusing on the movement creates awareness and this will give you the ability to control how you move.

Every exercise performed during your Pilates class needs to be done with complete muscular control. Each movement must be a conscious, purposeful movement for you to reap the benefit. And this is only possible if you focus in order to control what your body is doing. Hence, moving with intention.

“Contrology (Joseph’s name for his method) is complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit.”
Joseph H. Pilates

Control - The 6 Principles of Pilates

3. Centre

The third principle is centering. Some might say that centering and control go hand in hand. Actually, it is 2 concepts in one word. Centering implies focus and concentration in order to gain control but also one needs to start at your centre to fully control your body.

Often referred to as the “powerhouse”, the space between your lower ribs and pubic bone, was always the traditional “core” and centre of your body from where one would center and move. But now we know that the “core” is much more than just our abdominals. Structural integrity is the ability to control translation of movements through our joints in a structural chain. For example, walking or running requires good ankle joint movement so that the knee and hip can move sequentially within that chain without compensatory movement. So rather than just focusing on bracing the core or abs we focus on creating stability and mobility through functional movement patterns. So, you will centre (focus) your mind and then your body within the (old) “powerhouse” which we prefer to call the flexible framework (“true centre”), which includes your abdominals, upper and lower back pelvis, glutes, inner thighs and shoulder girdle.

4. Flow

If you have ever joined a Pilates class, it will often feel like an intense Yoga session, where you will bend and stretch while also contracting muscles (eccentric contraction), but typically each movement flows into the next.

With Pilates, this flow helps you build strength and increase stamina. It also teaches your body to transition from one movement and position to the next and creates new neural pathways which is what intelligent movement really is. And in so doing we pattern functional movement which we can take from the mat into life. To get a great indication of your flow, try using a reformer or other Pilates equipment. It will become “machine-like” once you lose your flow and control.

“That each muscle may cooperatively and loyally aid in the uniform development of all our muscles.”
Joseph H. Pilates

5. Precision

In Pilates, precision also plays a significant role. This goes hand in hand with Concentration and Control. It is crucial to practice awareness throughout each bend, contraction and lift. It is never about how many repetitions you can do.

Focusing on how you do each movement, and performing each move correctly, can later translate into your day-to-day activities like walking or bending to pick something up. You will start focusing on the movement as you do it to ensure its precise and with good form, thus preventing injuries.

Each action must be deliberate to ensure your focus stays and your technique is optimal to ensure you break harmful movement patterns.

6. Breath

Lastly, our most significant focus in Pilates is breath.

Knowing how to breathe correctly is key in Pilates. You might think, “Why do I need to focus on breathing? I do it every day.” That’s true! But have you ever considered if you are breathing optimally during your workouts, whether it is Pilates, running, or any other type of workout? Have you ever considered if you are ever breathing correctly? Most people breathe small, short, tight and shallow breaths – apical breathing. This drains one of energy and creates anxious tension in the body. Diaphragmatic, nasal breathing is the optimal way to breathe.

Joseph H. Pilates emphasised using a full breath during his practices. He told his students to think of their lungs as bellows—”a device with an airbag that emits a stream of air when squeezed together with two handles.” A bellow is used to blow air into a fire, but in this analogy, think of using your lungs to pump air fully into your body.

Coordinating your breathing with your movements is integral to Pilates and life. You will often hear your Pilates instructor remind you to breathe.

We usually start to hold our breath when we concentrate on a movement, thinking it will aid us when it becomes painful or difficult. But it is the opposite. Breathing helps our body during challenging exercises. It is also why we are often told to breathe when we are in pain or take a breath before doing something that makes us scared.

Each exercise in Pilates should start with breath and then translate from there through this “centre” and then flow through your limbs. That is why we often begin with the Pilates starting position, also known as Constructive Rest, where we initiate diaphragmatic breathing and allow our fascia to start to find fluidity (glide and slide) as we let the breath create an arch on the inhale and a tilt on the exhale, completing a FULL exhale to start to engage our true stability.

Focusing your breath will help you engage the elements of your “true centre” and always moving from breath will create fluidity, power, mental clarity, ease and control.

This blog doesn’t have enough space to truly fully explain the incredible thing that our God given ability to breath is and how we should harness it every moment of the day to live better.

“Breathing is the first act of life and the last. Our very life depends on it.”
Joseph H. Pilates

Join a Pilates Class at moveOn 89

Join our Pilates classes at our studio in Gardens, Cape Town, to improve your overall strength, mobility, flexibility and posture. At moveOn 89, we also offer a wide range of wellness classes including Yoga, HIIT, and Fascial Fitness.

To join our classes, simply visit our class schedule to choose a time that works for you and book!

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Get More Out of Every Workout with a Mind-Muscle Connection

Mind-Muscle Connection

Get More Out of Every Workout with a Mind-Muscle Connection

By Dominic Pereira

By now we all know that our brain is in charge of everything our body does and feels. It helps us think, walk, sit, talk, pick up items, etc. So it makes sense that your mind is able to improve the way you work out and help you increase muscle strength; aka having a mind-muscle connection.

What is a Mind-Muscle Connection?

According to Bodybuilding.com:

“As you know, movement is controlled by the brain. The first step towards muscular contraction is a signal sent by the brain to your muscles telling them to contract. You might say that the mind-muscle connection (MMC) occurs at something called the “neuromuscular junction”. This is where the mind meets the body. The brain releases a chemical neurotransmitter called “acetylcholine” to communicate with muscles in the body.

When acetylcholine is released at the neuromuscular junction it crosses the “synapses” (the tiny space that separates the nerve from the muscle) where it binds to receptors on the surface of muscle fibers. Voila, muscle contraction.” [sic]

Neuromuscular activation is a well-known term often used by physical therapists when they are helping people with injuries strengthen their mind-muscle connection. According to Wellwood Health, “This brain to muscle connection happens naturally within the neuromuscular system when the nervous system (neural) and the muscular system (muscular) are working together effectively.”

In conclusion, the mind-muscle connection is merely focusing your thoughts on the muscle you are using during your workout whether it’s lifting weights, Yoga, Pilates, etc. to ensure you increase the muscle fibres used; allowing for a better quality workout.

“…almost like ‘flexing’ without actually making any large body movements.”

Alan Snyder, DPT, owner of Breakaway Physical Therapy.

interaction between nerves and muscle fibres
Image Credit: COR

The figure above displays the interaction between nerves and muscle fibres.

Benefits of a Mind-Muscle Connection

  • Better form – as you’re focusing on the movement, you’ll reduce your chances of obtaining an injury.
  • Enhanced performance – since you are focusing on your form and properly executing the movement, you’ll be more in tune with your body’s ability to either push harder or ease off.
  • Great stress relieving method – as you’re focusing on the workout, it can help you forget about things causing you stress (even if it’s just for an hour).

How to Effectively Develop a Mind-Muscle Connection

Here are a few tips and tricks to help develop a mind-muscle connection:

1. Clear Your Mind

In order to fully focus on your workout and your form, you have to try and clear your mind of unrelated thoughts, like your to-do list. This will allow you to fully connect with your body during your chosen workout.

2. Focus on Your Form

According to SkinnyMs., proper form is not just for creating an effective mind-muscle connection; it’s crucial to ensure you reduce the risk of injuring yourself during your workout.

If you’re focusing on the muscle you’re working on, you’ll notice if your form starts slipping or if you’re doing the exercise too quickly to really feel it working.

3. Gain Strength From Inside

According to Sheer Balance, by focusing on the strength you have inside, you’ll start to understand the deeper framework within your body and start correcting its imbalances, misalignments, etc.

“If we can manipulate our bodies with our minds, we can correct misalignments and unhealthy posture, balance muscle groups making sports or daily activities easier, safer, and more enjoyable, and we can remember how to feel the strength of our body and all that it’s capable of doing.”

4. Slow It Down

According to Bodybuilding.com, by performing exercises slower than usual, you’ll be able to concentrate on the movement and which muscles are being contracted. It will help visualise the muscles you are using. And if you’re unsure where certain muscles are, try researching them before your workouts to know where to feel the contraction.

5. Warmup Properly

Important for any type of workout or movement, warming up the body remains essential in order to properly wake up your muscles and ensure they are warm enough for a great workout.

For instance, if your focus is on your legs for a specific workout, doing small, unweighted squats, hip bridges, etc. beforehand will get them warmed up, allowing you to know exactly which muscles are working during your exercises.

6. Eccentric Exercises

According to My Fitness Pal, performing eccentric exercises will ensure your muscles are properly stretched before contracting. Eccentric contraction is when you slowly lower yourself or weights to really help you focus on the movement and ensure your muscles are working optimally.

The bottom line? There are immense benefits when slowing down and focusing your mind on your movements. You’ll be able to increase strength without having to start using heavy weights or additional equipment.

Looking for a way to stay fit and healthy at home? Rent or buy one of our pre-recorded, edited videos. Our library has a selection of Pilates (and Pilates Stretch), HIIT, and Yoga classes, which you can easily join from the comfort of your home. Start taking action to ensure you have your healthiest body and mind. Get in touch to make your booking or join an IN Studio class

Why Join Live Online Movement Classes?

Live Classes | moveOn 89 | Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

Why Join Live Online Movement Classes?

By Dominic Pereira

Why do Live Online Movement Classes?

That’s a good question. The web is filled with loads of free content that you can watch and use at your leisure. So why sign up for a live class?

As a studio owner and movement enthusiast I can only speak from my own experience and share how our live classes have worked during lockdown to keep our clients healthy, sane and strong!

I have been so impressed and honoured by our clients’ commitment to showing up on the virtual mat daily. Some keen beans even TWICE a day. Most of the regulars are doing at least one class a day, whereas in the days of IN studio classes most people did only one or two classes a week. Others have taken up HIIT for the first time and are happy to find that instead of it being scary and murder, it’s just murder! ha! Jokes, if you’ve never tried a HIIT, it’s 30mins well spent. Read our blog on the benefits of HIIT here.

We’ve had Movers from Paris, London, Lisbon, Colorado, Wilderness, Mpumalanga, Maritzburg, Cape Town and Ballito join us – just shows the beauty and blessing of this technology. All are welcome 😀

How an Online Movement Class Can Help You

This enforced STAYcation, known as Lockdown, might have caused some to lose the ability to move and quite possibly their marbles too, but a streaming live class forced others to make a commitment to a specified time when they booked their spot, and show up.

You show up because you’ve paid and the teacher is waiting for you. And you get to wave hello to other faces from around the globe or around the corner. In this way, we stay connected and the live experience makes us feel, just that, alive. We might still be in a virtual world but it’s happening in real-time which is refreshing in a time of so much fakeness and the inability to identify with a buff, half-dressed trainer. Which creates a lack of meaningful contact. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch and then you need real people that you can identify with!

There are lots of online movement options out there. YouTube alone has a gazillion videos. According to MerchDope, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over five billion videos are watched by users a day!

Please use these videos if you can’t afford live classes. Just choose well 🙂

Benefits of Live Online Workout Classes

In a nutshell, these are the benefits of live online classes…

Personal Connection

The difference between our live streaming classes and pre-recorded videos are two things:

  1. The personal connection in this disconnected period. We have a relationship and therefore a trust and we can connect in class, say hello, smile at one another, and then get down to the business of good movement.
  2. The added attention despite the lack of eyes on your body: Your teacher will check-in at the beginning of every class and if there is a sore knee, shoulder or heart that we need to be aware of we try to address that during the class.

Beat Boredom

You’re home, bored, frustrated, the days are melting one into the other – Groundhog Day. After day. After day. But with a class booked into your schedule, you have something to do, to show up for. And not just something – but movement – the best gift, other than good nutrition and sleep, that you can give your body. Especially now that we have all this free time, it’s the perfect opportunity to improve your health.

Interact

You are able to see and interact with others at a time when many are feeling isolated and cut off.

Form a Healthy Habit

You will end up doing more classes than you would on your own because you’re now part of a community and it becomes a habit very quickly once you schedule it in and show up. A good habit. And wow, do we need more of those!

Instant Access

Access to your favourite class is at your fingertips. So no matter where in the world you are, if your time zone corresponds, or you don’t mind doing Pilates at 2 am! ha! So when you’re travelling (yes, that will happen again!), for work or pleasure you can still keep up with your fitness regime and your connection to your local studio.

Cost-Effective

Live online classes are generally more affordable than IN studio sessions since you aren’t getting personal attention from an instructor.

Build a Routine

Another beauty of working out at home is that exercise becomes less of a chore, which you resent and avoid, but it’s now part of your life and your home and your routine. You have seen how easy it is to exercise anywhere, all you need is a mat. You’ll continue to learn a lot even though you don’t have a teacher standing over you. With some guidance – you CAN do this!

You Can Choose

Post lockdown, when studios are open, you can do a combo of IN studio and live streaming, as we will continue streaming all our classes. This means that if you’re running late for a class or out of town, you can still do it from the comfort of your lounge or hotel room.

Our mantra for this loco lockdown is: Whether together or apart, let’s stay connected 💞

Please join us for live online HIIT, Pilates, Yoga, and Stretch sessions! Your first class is free, which is great if you’re not sure about the online experience but want to give it a try. Moving daily will definitely make your body feel amazing but it will ALSO get the endorphins flowing freely making that decision to be in a good mood so much easier.

We encourage you to join as many classes as you can. We have made the fees wallet-friendly as we know that it’s tough right now but we also know that our collective wellness is vital.

A Few Words From Our Streaming Community

At the end of the day the proof is in the pudding (no, don’t eat pudding!), the proof is in the human experience. This is what our regular streamers, have had to say:

“Thank you for the breath of fresh air you bring to my day when I attend your class.”

“The silver lining of this strange time is that Allison introduced me to Moveon89. If / when I come back to Cape Town I will definitely come to meet you in person, for a big hug.”

“I am really loving the stretch classes and find them super beneficial at the moment! I also really appreciate your positivity, the classes really set me up for a great day!”

“I have so appreciated the streaming sessions, they have been an absolute godsend in these times!”

“Hellooooo- you are such a light in these dark times- feel so much better after the workout.”

“Just want to say thank you so much for these online classes – it is amazing how every class has been exactly what I need on the day!!”

“so good to move, dearest. Thank you xxxx”

“thanks so much for these Pilates sessions. we are enjoying them together as a couple. And my body is feeling great.”

“I had forgotten how much I loooooooove your classes!!! So good to be active on the mat, even only once a week and with kids crying behind the door!”

“thank you for keeping us connected and moving. not once have you shown fatigue or fear – you are always smiling and ready to rock.”

“I loved our session and it made me realise how much I need to move…. looking forward to another class soon.”

“thanks for today. feeling amazeballs. I adapt where you recommend and don’t push beyond my limit…”

“…my core is so fired up now I could paddle the bay!”

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We use cookies to track visitors, measure ads, ad campaign effectiveness and analyze site traffic. We may also share information about your use of our site with 3rd parties. For more info, see, our Cookies Policy, our Privacy Policy. By clicking “Accept All” you agree to the storing of all cookies on your device. In case you don’t choose one of these options and use our website, we will treat it as if you have accepted all cookies.