Beginner’s Guide to Mat Pilates

In recent years, Mat Pilates has surged in popularity, captivating fitness enthusiasts and newcomers alike. Pilates stands as a testament to the power of mindful movement and targeted exercises. Among its various forms, Mat Pilates emerges as a versatile and accessible option for individuals seeking to enhance their strength, flexibility, and overall well-being. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of Pilates, understanding the principles and benefits of Mat Pilates can significantly enrich your journey towards a healthier lifestyle. 

What is Mat Pilates? 

Mat Pilates is a form of exercise that follows the principles developed by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer who sought to create a system that would strengthen the body, flexibility, and enhance mental awareness. Unlike its counterpart, equipment based Pilates which involves specialized machines, Mat Pilates relies on body weight resistance and simple props like bands or small balls to achieve its objectives. Mat pilates is the true foundation of the practice—created before other pilates equipment was made. The mind-body practice follows six principles:

  1. Breathing: Proper breathing is central to Pilates, enhancing oxygen flow and supporting muscle engagement. 
  2. Concentration: Focusing on precise movements ensures maximum effectiveness and reduces the risk of injury. 
  3. Control: Each exercise is performed with deliberate control to maintain proper muscle engagement. 
  4. Centering: The core, or “powerhouse”, is the foundation of Pilates movements, providing stability and strength. 
  5. Precision: Attention to detail in each movement helps to maximize benefits and improve muscle coordination.
  6. Flow: Smooth, continuous movements help to create a harmonious and efficient workout.

Benefits of Mat Pilates: 

Mat Pilates’s practice is focused on improving coordination, balance, strength, and posture through a targeted series of full body workouts. Since the exercises can build in difficulty or be modified to be easier, Matwork Pilates is suitable for beginner students up to advanced practitioners. 

  1. Builds Strength and Flexibility: By mindfully executing foundational Plates movements you’ll notice yourself getting stronger, sculpted, and more agile. Regular practice increases flexibility, particularly in the spine, hips, and hamstrings. 
  2. Posture: Improved core strength and body awareness lead to better posture, reducing strain on the back and neck. 
  3. Mind-Body Awareness: Pilates helps you feel your best through mindful technique and functional movement. The focus on controlled movements enhances balance and coordination, which is beneficial for daily activities and other sports.
  4. Supports Mental Health and Boosts Vitality: Most forms of physical activity can benefit your mental health, with Mat Pilates included.

Getting Started with Mat Pilates: 

Now that you are familiar with the basics and benefits of Mat Pilates, it’s time to start some practice! No matter who you are, everyone can benefit from Mat Pilates by tailoring and modifying the workout to your needs. 

  1. Schedule a Class: Looking for a Mat Pilates class? Experience Pilates for free at our clinic, PREP Performance Center! Every Sunday from 9am-12pm you can experience the benefits of Pilates with Gracia Cruz. More information below: 

Here is the link to our Instagram to learn more about Pilates with Garcia. 

For those who prefer to practice at home, numerous online tutorials and virtual classes are available. Websites like YouTube and Pilates-specific platforms offer a wide range of options. 

  1. Essential Equipment: A good quality exercise mat is crucial for comfort and support. Optional equipment such as resistance bands, small exercise balls, and yoga blocks can enhance your practice. 
  2. Start with Basics: Begin with foundational exercises to build core strength and understand the principles of Pilates. Focus on mastering basic movements before progressing to more advanced exercises. 
  3. Consistency is Key: Aim for regular practice, ideally 2-3 times per week, to see significant improvements in strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. 
  4. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after each session. Avoid pushing through pain and make modifications as needed. Trust the practice and stick to it. 

Mat Pilates is a versatile and effective form of exercise that offers numerous benefits for both the body and mind. By incorporating it into your fitness routine, you can build a strong core, improve flexibility, enhance posture, and foster a greater mind-body connection. Whether you choose to join a class or practice at home, the key is to approach Pilates with mindfulness and consistency. Give Mat Pilates a try and experience the transformative effects yourself! 

Garcia Cruz is a Mexican-American dancer from Southern California with a BFA from SUNY Purchase. She performed works by Trisha Brown and Chen Agron. Along with that, Garcia recently completed a residency with Andrea Miller. Garcia will be offering free trials to new clients, individual sessions, and small group Mat PIlates sessions. If you are interested in any of these Pilates sessions here at PREP with Garcia, schedule your session by texting or calling 773-609-1847. 


Unleash your inner strength and flexibility! Try for a free trial of the Mat Pilates class at PREP Performance Center.

Book an Appointment Today