7 Pilates Beginner Mistakes to Avoid

pilates beginners mistakes

One of the deep-rooted benefits of Pilates is deepening your proprioception, your postural reflex, or your awareness of how you move through space. Developing this skill will reduce the stress on your muscles and improve their function, making it easier to gain strength and flexibility. This idea of proprioception is something I introduce to every beginner who walks into my studio to help them avoid these seven common mistakes that can slow down the results you’re looking for when practicing Pilates.

proprioceptive training for improving motor function
Did you know proprioceptive training is actually used for improving motor function?

Let’s dive in!

Pilates beginner mistake #1

Racing through your workout

Trying to do as many reps as quickly as you can is not what Pilates is all about. Doing so doesn’t give you the opportunity to pay attention to how everything in your body feels, what is working, and what isn’t. It doesn’t give you time to create a stronger mind-body connection that we crave.

racing through your workout is a beginners mistake
Mix it up with a stability ball! Check out this exercise for a nice and easy shoulder, arms, and upper back workout: V2W.

Developing your proprioception

Your proprioception is that mind-body connection that I’m talking about. The ability to sharpen the skill of finding that awareness of how we move through space is ideal. Think, “How is this exercise feeling?” or “What do I feel working in my body?” This is something that we want to develop and strengthen as we’re practicing our Pilates. That way, we can have more efficient workouts and be aware that we’re working the part of the body that we’re trying to work so that we can get the results that we’re looking for.

When you rush through any exercise routine, your habitual movement patterns will develop instead, and that’s not what we want.

You will not be able to create new movement patterns and fine tune the muscles that you’re trying to access if you’re racing through your workout. Not to mention, but you could end up hurting yourself or bringing back an old injury in the process.

Pilates beginner mistake #2

Not paying attention

take your time when doing pilates exercise!
Psychology Today reported that people with chronic low back pain who took 12 weeks of slower movement exercise classes actually had less pain, depression, and disability and reported a greater overall improvement in the quality of life.

Not paying attention to how the exercise is feeling is definitely something you want to avoid doing. What part of the body is working? Always make sure you’re working at a pace that you’re comfortable with, where you are able to sense what part of the body is working. Sometimes we have to move slowly in order to do this, especially if we’re doing new exercises or utilizing an area of the body that we haven’t worked with in a long time (or ever).

It’s important that you take your time.

Pay attention to how the exercise feels and what part of the body is working. You want to feel good about accessing and feeling the part(s) of the body that you’re supposed to be working throughout each exercise.

Pilates beginner mistake #3

Only focusing on strength

The Cat Cow Pilates exercise is a great way to achieve that balance in working on your flexibility AND your strength at the same time. Plus, it feels so damn good!

Yes, strength is important, no doubt. BUT it is just as important as flexibility and mobility. Choosing exercises that will address both your strength and your flexibility will give you that balance that will essentially prevent injury.

It actually doesn’t help us if we’re too strong, yet lack the flexibility to move through space.

It also doesn’t help us to be too flexible and be unable to have the strength to endure. That combination and balance of incorporating both will help you stay healthy and function with less stress and be more efficient in your movement.

Pilates beginner mistake #4

Forgetting to breathe

Easy breathing exercise for you right here.

Breath is so important. Breath helps bring oxygen to our muscles and promotes blood flow.

The more oxygen and blood flow to our muscles, the more our muscles function more efficiently.

It’s important to make sure that you are breathing while you are doing your Pilates exercises.

Pilates beginner mistake #5

Working out too much

If some exercises feel like they’re antagonizing you, making you feel worse, don’t do them. Your body is wise. It knows. If any Pilates exercises don’t feel good for your body, trust your body’s intuition and don’t do it. They should help you feel better, not cause any pain or discomfort.

This is something that I see happen with a lot of new clients I’m working with. They think that they need to be working out all the time, even every day.

Working out every day does not give the body time to rest.

Resting is really important for our health. There is a lot of healing happening in our bodies while we’re resting. We don’t want to ignore that. We want to honor our bodies, and help it stay as healthy as possible. We want to make sure that we’re resting, which leads me to number six…

Pilates beginner mistake #6

Pushing through the pain

stop and rest, don't push through pain
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR BODY WHEN IT TELLS YOU TO STOP!

Pain is a red flag. It’s your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right. Now, if you’re feeling pain, soreness, for a few hours after your workout, that’s fine. But if you’re feeling pain and soreness the next day or two days later, I would recommend that you scale it back because you’re not giving your body time to rest. Your body, as I mentioned before, needs to rest. The pain is a message that your body’s giving you that something is not right. Don’t ignore or push through the pain.

Pilates beginner mistake #7

Focusing on what you like vs what you need

Take care of your body. Find happiness.

Beginner mistake number seven that we want to try to avoid is just focusing on the moves that you like and not what you need. In order to achieve balance in the body, we’ve got to work the whole body, from the toes to the top of our head. If you’re only doing the moves that you like, then you’re probably already doing them well, it feeds your ego, you’re like, “Yeah. This feels good. I can do this. I feel capable.” That’s understandable. I get that. I want to do that, too. But we also need to do the moves that are challenging for us, that tap into the weak links of our function, of our movement and make sure that we’re addressing those. We don’t want to just work out to feel good with our ego. We want to work out to make sure that we are taking care of our body as a whole, addressing the whole body, and doing exercises that work on our weakest links.

I hope this helps and that you pay attention to your body while using this as a guide to avoid those seven mistakes as you begin your Pilates journey.

Until next time, take care, and thanks for being here with me. Bye for now. 🙂

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