Find a Pilates teacher and really get the basic principles
First things first: try to find a good teacher in your local area. Get in contact with the Pilates Foundation and join a beginner’s class. An experienced teacher is essential to help you get a proper introduction to the subtleties of Pilates. They can show you effectively what each exercise looks and feels like, and can respond to your individual needs.
Be real and think positive
At the beginning, you may dream of achieving a body like Pilates practitioner Madonna, but you’ve got to start from where you are. Positive thinking is important, and it’s helpful to have a vision to aim for. Really be honest with yourself about your body’s strengths, weaknesses and needs, and ask your teacher for help with realistic aims.
Results in Pilates come from working consistently. You need to be patient and regular in your practice of Pilates to achieve your goals, and sometimes the exercises you find most difficult may be the best medicine for you, so persevere!
Don’t push your body too hard
‘No pain no gain’ is certainly not the Pilates way, and if you are finding an exercise painful you should stop. Some discomfort is likely to be a part of working your body in new ways, but listen to your body carefully, and with discipline and attention to detail you will gain!
Check out exercises and Pilates advice relevant to your everyday life – and follow them. Pilates teaches ways of doing things that can prevent injury or back pain and counter problems caused by common modern troubles of the body, such as sitting in front of a computer for hours on end. Ask your teacher for tips related to your specific lifestyle or health issues.
Take some time out for your Pilates practice on a regular basis. Turn off your mobile, take the phone off the hook, and try to take some quiet time for yourself regularly. It could help you to feel more relaxed and spacious in the rest of your day.
Make some physical space to practice at home
If you have to shift stuff in a cluttered environment every time you want to practice Pilates, this will take precious minutes out from your practice time, may make you feel anxious about your clutter, and will probably sometimes put you off practicing at all! Pilates includes developing a more spacious state of mind. Try to create a place in your home where there is a clear, open space readily available for you to stretch and move.
Create a programme that suits you
It’s helpful to have a routine, a) because it’s easier to remember, b) because you can feel and measure your progress in it, and c) because as you progress you can add to it and adapt it as you learn more. Michael King suggests choosing three exercises for mobility, three for strength, and taking an hour to do them really properly.
Don’t rush: take time out and feel what it’s like to slow down
Pilates is a slow, flowing exercise: speeding it up will not make it better, in fact, taking more time over an exercise will probably make it feel a bit more challenging and increase its level of difficulty and effectiveness.
Don’t distract yourself or speed or funk it up too much with music
If you play music while you practice, don’t choose something with a fast or heavy beat. In Pilates you need to be able to listen to your body’s own rhythm and work with your breathing.