5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Pilates Mat Class

All the More Reason to Head to the Studio

If you're just getting started with Pilates, you might be having trouble deciding whether you want to take Pilates mat classes or Pilates equipment classes. The equipment is practically symbolic of Pilates, but that doesn't mean a good old fashioned mat class isn't worth your time. If you have the opportunity to use equipment, that's great, but don't knock the mat.

An for those of you who are in love with equipment and are neglecting your mat classes, it's time to rediscover the undeniable benefits of mat work.

Mat Classes Give You the Benefits of Pilates

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Toning, flexibility, better posture, more efficient movement, the body/mind connection - just about every benefit the Pilates method has to offer can be achieved through mat work. Pilates equipment adds an element of moderate resistance training, which is important in your overall fitness plan.

However, a Pilates mat workout that incorporates the classic Pilates sequence is an exceptionally good workout that will provide the foundation for a lifetime of healthy habits, not to mention, of course, that Pilates mat work is the alpha and omega of core workouts.

Mat Classes Cover the Basics

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You'll learn all of the fundamental Pilates movement techniques in Pilates mat classes. Neutral spine, a properly engaged core, c-curve, shoulder and pelvic stability, spinal articulation, full breathing, working with oppositional energy - all are integral to Pilates mat work. Learning these basics on the mat where there are fewer things to keep up with makes it that much easier to use them on the equipment.

Mat Skills Are Equipment Skills

Pilates class. Credit: Roy Mehta

Some people think that Pilates mat exercises were intended by Joseph Pilates to be the foundation for Pilates equipment exercises. We don't know exactly how Joseph Pilates developed the work with regard to the mat and equipment exercises. However, most Pilates instructors and longtime practitioners will tell you that consistent mat work is profoundly beneficial to equipment performance.

Many mat exercise translate directly onto the equipment - the teaser and swan are two examples  and- keep their names as you move through reformer, chair and tower. All mat exercise teach skills that relate to the equipment exercises.

Mat Work Improves Body, Mind & Spirit

Yoga or Pilates Class. Credit: Hiep Vu

Pilates has nothing to do with religion, but it was definitely developed with the intention of helping to integrate and elevate the body, mind and spirit. Pilates exercises are always practiced with the Pilates principles of centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow.

When a Pilates workout is infused with this kind of attention and quality it becomes more than a physical experience, and the effects are felt throughout one's life. The mat is the perfect place to embody the Pilates principles.

Learn How to Do Your Own Mat Workouts

Pilates outdoors
Take control of your own workouts. Getty Images

You can learn Pilates mat exercises and routines on your own with written instructions, DVDs and videos, but the best way to learn is through a Pilates class with a good instructor, at least at first.

A mat class will give you the support to stick with it and the feedback you need to make sure you are doing everything right. Once you know the mat exercise and can put them together in a routine for home, you make Pilates your own, which is what Joseph Pilates intended for all when he wrote "Return to Life Through Contrology." All you will need is a mat or a firm, padded surface.

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