Pilates for the Uninitiated

Pilates Explained | moveOn 89 Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

Pilates for the Uninitiated

By Dominic Pereira

So you’ve been to the physio and been told: “You have a weak core”. You reply: “My what is what?” 

Physio: “Your abdominals are lazy.”
“Shocking! Well, how do I get them active?”, you retort.
The physio has a single word answer for you: “Pilates.”

“Pah .. what?”, you ask.
“Pi-laa-tees,” the physio repeats. 

As soon as you leave the practice you Google “What is Pilates?”, and after reading a few articles you have a vague idea and so your next search is “Pilates for dummies”.  Only joking, your next search is specific,  “Pilates Studios Cape Town” and still you drill deeper, “Pilates studios Gardens” 

You’re serious about taking charge of your weak and indolent core and whipping those lazy abs into hardworking, self-respecting muscles!


And so your journey into the unknown world of Pilates begins.

You opt for a private session with a reputable and recommended Pilates teacher. In your first session, you learn that your backache and sore hip are the results of poor movement patterns, the overuse of muscles designed for global movement, and the underuse of muscles designed for local stabilization. 

And now you’re even more confused. But she’s patient and explains further.

Your framework, better known as your skeleton, forms your body’s structural integrity. These beautiful bones are held in place by soft tissue structures, of which the stabilizing or postural muscles are vital. These are the muscles that hold the skeleton while the movement muscles move it. 

Pilates focuses on training the brain and body to connect. This is initially done using small, controlled movements to teach your muscles to fire by laying down new neural pathways. This motion will strengthen your muscles and create optimal movement patterns. 

In turn, this will improve posture, breathing, digestion, joint health, and many other physiological benefits.

These mindful movements are reminiscent of meditation and have the added benefit of releasing stress. 

You cannot think about renewing your car license, outstanding kids school projects, or what to make for dinner, while maintaining equal weight across your sacrum as you rotate your left femur in your hip joint! 

After a few Pilates sessions, your mind/body connection will start to fire and the movements will feel more familiar. That’s when the fun starts. 

Initially, beginners need to lay a foundation of new neural pathways and develop integral strength. From there they can quickly move on to more complex movement patterns and more challenging exercises.

But, Pilates isn’t just a form of exercise. At its core, it’s a new language and way of thinking and being. It can literally change the way you see the world because it changes the way you see yourself. 

When you become conscious of your body (that sought after “body awareness” state), you will not only know where you are in space (proprioception), but it will translate to how you move. It will also instil the need to hold yourself with more structural integrity. 

Your improved posture will, in turn, translate to a sense of pride. When we hold our head up high and lengthen our spines, we feel strong, earthed, and proud in our bodies, hearts, and minds. 

“Body reflects mind and mind reflects body.”

As we recognize this reciprocal relationship we are able to draw on our newfound physical strength to feel better about ourselves. We gain a sense of well-being which we want to maintain and grow. So we feed that which serves us and let go of those things that don’t. 

And the beautiful interplay between body and mind becomes a dance of balance and rhythm that we strive to keep in flight.

Nuts ‘n bolts - How Pilates Works

Pilates can be done in private sessions or group classes on the mat, using a myriad of small props, lotions, and potions. 

I’m joking; there are no lotions or potions involved. (Unless your teacher is also a qualified physio or massage therapist of course!) 

Props encompass various yoga balls, magic (not really) circles, resistance bands and tubing, weights, yoga blocks, balance pads and more. Pilates equipment is also used in group classes or private sessions.

You will also come across scary and interesting terms like “The Reformer”, “Cadillac”, “Trapeze Table”, “Wunda Chair”, “Exo Chair”, “Ladder Barrel”, “Arc” and “Baby Arc’. It’s truly a weird and wonderful world. 

At the end of the day, all the props are tools used to teach and facilitate good movement. The intention is to get to know your body through coordinated movement. To learn to move with efficiency, control, and balance. And then to move often. 

We now know that prolonged sitting is one of the worst things we can do to our bodies – worse than smoking! (yip, Google it). It’s all about avoiding sustained positions. Change, adjust, move, get up, walk around, sit, stand, lie down.

“Body reflects mind and mind reflects body.”

When you go back to your physio in a month or two, you will be able to report back that not only is your transversus abdominis working optimally, but your psoas has lengthened, glutes have strengthened, serratus is firing, patella are tracking better, and your TFL and ITB are happier. 

And so are you.

Are you looking for a Pilates studio in Gardens, Cape Town? Then book your first session with moveOn 89. 

What is Pilates? Want to feel happier? Move. Move often.

What is pilates | moveOn 89 Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

Want to feel happier? Move. Move often.

By Dominic Pereira

So what is Pilates?  A simple internet search will answer that.  There are many definitions and explanations; so rather than regurgitate Google, this is how I define it.  

Pilates is about movement.  Bones, joints, soft tissues, organs, thoughts, mind, perceptions.  It’s about creating a shift in the body and consciousness.  And then introducing the two to one another: 

““Body, meet mind. Mind, meet body. Now become lifelong friends.” “


Why do I say this?  Because our modern legacy is one of complete disconnect from our bodies.  We live in our heads and operate mostly sedentary lives, peeking out from behind laptop screens, spines hunched into submission.  We no longer know our bodies, what good movement is, what the integrity of the skeleton is when in balance with our soft tissues.  How does that even feel?

So for me, Pilates is a tool.  But it’s not the only tool.  It’s one of many options I have learnt over the years, and which I call upon in my teaching to fulfil a specific need or goal.

Movement is ultimately what it’s about.  Good movement.  And Pilates teaches you that.  Moving your joints through their full range (because we all know about the #useitorloseit principle right?).  Honouring the spine by moving it through flexion, extension, lateral flexion and delicious, detoxing rotation.  Hmmmm. 

What is Pilates - side stretch | moveOn 89 Pilates | Yoga | Wellness

It’s about proprioception – that sense of knowing where your body is in space, and how you can move it in ways you didn’t think of before.  Isolating one area while the other moves.  Moving two parts in different ways.  The options are endless.

My box of tricks is filled with modalities like yoga, dance, primal movement, many types of pilates, and maybe a touch of Tai Chi, plus many invented moves and lots of playful fun.  But all are grounded in sound principles which underpin Pilates too – breathing, balance, flow, coordination, mindfulness & concentration.

And then the fun starts. 

Once these are in place, we can play with improvisation, balance and different breathwork. And this makes you a strong, resilient, flexible, earthed, invigorated and more grounded individual.

If you want to feel happier, move.  Move often. And that’s the full nutshell.

Do you want to be happier?
Find out more about Pilates at MoveOn 89

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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.