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How to move from beginner to intermediate and advanced Pilates?

People take up Pilates for many different reasons and the important thing to realise and remember is that Pilates is a journey and it's a beautiful one where you will build strength and flexibility and improve your posture beyond that of which you ever thought possible.

There are no specific exercises that you can do that are going to catapult you into being able to practice more advanced Pilates exercises. It's not that simple or easy. So, if there are no exercises that can help what can you do?


The first and perhaps the best and most important thing You need to do if you haven't already done so is make a promise, a commitment to yourself that you will attend Pilates regularly. By regularly I mean every week and if you're away on holiday for a couple of weeks practice. I love it when people from my class, practice at home or when they're away, I'm happy to give advice on exercises someone can do whilst away. Pilates cannot serve you and your body if you are not fully committed and consistent.

How much commitment?

Attending Pilates for a minimum of once a week every week, Rescheduling your 1-1 session/s or attending a different class to make up for the one you're missing if an event comes up you must or want to attend. It means doing everything you can to make sure you get to your Pilates class or private lesson/s. There will always be the temptation on a summers evening to have a Barbeque or go to the pub and sit outside in the evening sun and have a drink, in the winter the temptation to sit by the fire and flop on the sofa when it's cold, raining and dark outside is very very strong and hard to resist. Your workload has increased and you are spending more time at work, there is one last email you must send, there is one last thing you must do at work , someone wants to see you when you know you should be leaving to go Your Pilates class or session, there will always be something that crops up if you are not committed, We are all really good at keeping our promises to others and encouraging others to do things that are good for them that will befit them, but for some reason we are not as important, its ok to let ourself down, to break a promise to ourself, often exercise is low down on the agenda and one missed session turns into 2, 3 and before you know it you have missed a whole month. You think to yourself, it will be ok, I'll get it back, I'll tell the teacher to go easy on me, but the teacher has a whole class to teach and can't give out individual alternatives to suit everyone or nobody would get any thing done! You get on your mat and your body feels stiff, your joints feels tight and your spine feels like its an iron rod! That is a reason in itself to keep your promise to yourself. Pilates is an investment in yourself. There is no other exercise like Pilates, nothing else, no other exercise you do will compare or even come close to what Pilates can do for your body. Running, walking cycling are great exercise but they are very different to Pilates. Pilates will enhance your ability and performance in these and other exercises but these types of exercises will not do anything to strengthen your back, abdominals, and whole body and give you flexibility. In other words Pilates is the gift that keeps on giving. If you commit to it and are consistent it will repay you 1,000 times over.

Aren't all core exercises the same?

There are other exercises that will challenge your core strength and they are great in addition to Pilates but they don't focus on the same things as Pilates. They don't teach you how to keep a neutral spine and pelvis whilst moving and performing exercises they don't teach you about engaging your pelvic floor and help you improve strength in the pelvic floor muscles, they don't teach you about shoulder stabilisation and alignment and awareness. That is the difference.

How long will it take for the exercises I am doing now to feel easier?

Yes, Pilates is hard work no matter what level you are at. You might think to yourself, when are these exercises like the One Hundred ever going to get easier? If you have been practicing Pilates with the same instructor she/he will be gradually progressing the exercises which make you work harder so that You don't plateau. The body adapts to exercise quickly and if we want to gain more strength and fitness we have to work our bodies harder and challenge and surprise the mind and body keep it guessing as to what is coming next.

That will be why you are still finding some exercises hard, think back to when you first started? Were you doing the things you are doing now?

Results and progression

It can be frustrating, you are attending Pilates on a weekly basis you don't miss a class but you are not progressing much and you are struggling with the more demanding versions of the exercises and not getting the results you are looking for. Then it will be worth stepping up your efforts and attending an extra class every week. Investing in some time and money into yourself by adding in an extra class every week or having private sessions in addition to your weekly class will be a huge advantage. The teacher can work much more closely with you and help break bad habits and enhance your practice for you to progress to more advanced exercises.

Pilates is a relationship

Pilates is part of your relationship with yourself and respecting and caring enough about yourself enough to put yourself first to make sure you get the most out of this amazing practice and all that it has to offer you. Pilates is a positive force in your life and provides space for your mind to let go of the dashing, the worrying, work and stress that comes from a busy life. It provides calm and stillness in the mind, because it is impossible to perform the exercises correctly whilst thinking about something else. It demands your full attention. Of course you will go on holiday but you don't need to take a mat, use the beach, the garden and a towel or a blanket or the carpet (you don't want carpet burns as a souvenir!) The exemption of course is when you are ill it is important to rest and recover.

So Now you Know, what will you decide? How far will you take Your Pilates, How much do you want to achieve? Perhaps you are happy where you are, which is fine. Maybe you like the idea of putting in an extra hour a week and discovering for yourself if what I am telling you is true!

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