Why do people fear Pilates? Don’t fear Pilates. Fear terrorism, global warming, adult acne.

I cannot tell you how often I hear prospective clients, and people on the street, express a certain amount of fear of Pilates. Not that I approach random people on the street, trying to get them on the Reformer.

However, if accosting strangers on the street meant that I could dispel this pervasive fear, which as we all know is just false evidence appearing real, then gosh darnit, I would. Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, don’t hold me to it. Where was I?

Oh, yeah, fearing Pilates.

Did you know that Mr. Pilates called his method Contrology? Is that scary? Maybe you have control issues? Let go. Give it up. There’s so little that any of us have control over. The good news is that, through Pilates, we can learn how to control our bodies and how we move, so that we keep moving up until our very last breath.

Moving on. Moving. You see, it’s all about Pilates.

Return To Life Through Contrology was written by Mr. Pilates. In it he discusses basic principles, and concepts. If you’re afraid of righting your slumped shoulders and bad posture (put that friggin cell phone down already) or balancing your body so that it works efficiently when you’re working or playing, then stop reading and go lay down and turn off the lights.

However, if you’d like to face your fear head on, then read on.

Mr. Pilates called his method Contrology. You can read about it in his book, Return To Life. These principles, or concepts, that I’m about to impart to you, did not come from Mr. Pilates directly. They’ve been distilled from his work, by instructors that have been carrying on his method. We in the biz refer to these ‘legacy keepers’ as the elders. They are revered and respected, much like I am -- in my head.

The Distilled Principles


This was Mr. Pilates’ A-number-one must have. Think about what would happen if we didn’t breath. He believed that the more one can pump the air in and out, the healthier the body. Coordinating the breath with the Pilates exercises is always emphasized. One of the many benefits from Pilates is greater lung capacity.


When performing any and all of the exercises, every muscle is being controlled. Even if a muscle is not visibly working, it’s still being controlled by the muscle’s owner. That would be you.


Focus and energy are brought to the center of the body, where the Pilates exercises are initiated. The center of the body being the square (or box) from armpit, down the side body, across the low belly, up the other side body to the other armpit and across to armpit number one. I’m sure there’s a more technical way of illustrating this but I’m not known for my technical acumen.


Pilates is a mind-body system that requires the practitioner’s full and undivided attention. Concentration ensures that each exercise is performed with the most efficiency. I don’t recommend watching anything on BRAVO while practicing Pilates. 


Each Pilates exercise requires specific placement of the body, and if using Pilates equipment, specific placement of the body in relation to the equipment. Proper body alignment is always a priority.


Ideally, a constant flow is applied to the exercises, moving gracefully and easily from one exercise to the next. If one is not flowing with concentration and control, the Pilates Reformer, for example, will make noise, as evidenced by the springs banging around. Some instructors, like yours truly, like to call this ‘crashing’ and I will shame and humiliate any client that ‘crashes’ their Reformer. Sometimes tough love is the only appropriate love.

When these principles are integrated, and practiced as a whole, the results are kick-ass, and THUT- errific.  

Some Pilates training centers and instructors may include the principles listed below in their teachings as well:

Range of Motion
Body Awareness

In my opinion they are all valuable, and a practitioner would benefit from learning all of them.