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Carrie Mayer on Pilates Cadillac

What is Pilates? When I meet new people, they ask, “what do you do for a living.” I reply, “I teach Pilates!” Some people know what Pilates is, but others have no idea. On the other hand, some people think it is yoga or just doing a lot of sit-ups and planks. I completely understand the confusion. Even Pilates instructors have different opinions and answers. In this post, I will go over the cliff-notes on Pilates.


I looked up a definition online in my quest to answer this question succinctly. Here it is:

Pi·la·tes/pəˈläˌdēz/noun an exercise regimen that is typically performed on a floor mat or with the use of specialized apparatus and aims to improve flexibility and stability by strengthening the muscles and especially the torso-stabilizing muscles of the abdomen and lower back.


This definition is solid. I appreciate the pronunciation notes because often people sometimes mispronounce Pilates as “pilots.” Pilates uses special apparatus, which is a fancy word for equipment. The most common apparatus is the Reformer others include the Wunda Chair and Cadillac. It also references the mat work, which is the most original form of Pilates. The mat is a system of exercises using your body weight and a mat. It is incredibly challenging when done correctly. Pilates on the apparatus and the mat is the perfect balance of flexibility and strength exercises.


Joseph Pilates developed Pilates sometime in the 1920s under the name Contrology. Please note the keyword here, control. It started being called Pilates after Joseph Pilates’ death in 1967. He founded Contrology on six principles: breathing, centering, concentration, control, flow, and precision. Can we agree these are important principles both in life and Pilates?

“Pilates is the complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.”

Joseph Pilates

So, what is it?

In truth, it is better to have someone try Pilates versus telling them what it is. However, at a cocktail party, most people won’t drop down and start doing Pilates. (I say “most people” because some people have, but that is a different post.) Hence, I say something like this. “Pilates improves your strength and flexibility using your body weight and spring-loaded equipment. Bonuses are it is good for posture and enhances body awareness. Pilates is highly-focused, a total body workout, and it strengthens from the inside out.” Additionally, I explain who is a good fit for a Pilates program, which is most people. “Whether you are looking to get stronger, recover from an injury, or bring your athleticism to the next level by getting more mental control — Pilates is your answer.”

If you are interested in learning more about Pilates and what it can do to enhance your life. Please send me a note here. You can also check out my FAQ Page or watch this entertaining animated video on Pilates:

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Carrie Mayer Boston Pilates Instructor smiling

Carrie is a Massachusetts-based Pilates and Wellness professional who believes in training smart and enjoying all that life has to offer.