Pilates workouts is a little bit different than other fitness routines. The key point about it, is to know what the core principle of the Pilates that make it different. With many exercise classes and techniques you don’t have to think about what you’re doing, you just do it to get through it. But with Pilates, every movement is a conscious act controlled by the power of your mind. Pilates is “the thinking way of moving” and requires a different kind of concentration than that typically used for other exercise forms. It may not be all that important to concentrate during an aerobics class or when walking on a treadmill, but it is absolutely essential for Pilates. To master you need to master Pilates breathing techniques first!

6 Core Principles of Concentration in Pilates

“Always keep your mind wholly concentrated on the purpose of the exercises as you perform them.”

Joseph Pilates

Setting the mood

There are simple things you can do to improve concentration. Check that the space you plan to use for Pilates is free of distractions and that it is warm and comfortable. Make sure you will not be disturbed.

Though Pilates is not a spiritual workout, you will find it very relaxing because concentrating on a single movement causes everything else that is going on in your life to fade away.

If you want to use music in the background, make sure it isn’t punctuated by a heavy beat. Don’t make the mistake I once made when I used a tape of nature sounds that featured screeching parrots and mating whales!

Our inner voice

Controlling our thoughts, much like controlling our actions, is not as easy as it might first appear to be. When you are under pressure, your thoughts can become very erratic and spin off in random directions. If you are stressed, going to sleep can be especially difficult because you are unable to “switch off.” Unwelcome thoughts pop into your head despite your best efforts.

Effective concentration is a skill we acquire as children. By the time we are adults, we all have a little “inner voice” that controls our actions. First attempts at unfamiliar movements may feel strange and awkward. It is very easy to fall into the trap of performing only the moves you enjoy, when what you need most is to do the ones you do not like. Normally people speed up the difficult part of the movement to get it over with as soon as they can. Instead, you need to slow down. Only by concentrating on what you are doing can you properly control your actions.

A clear mind

You’ll soon find that the benefits of practicing concentration—easier mental focus, clarity of thought, and, most importantly, reduction of stress—are well worth the effort. All too often in our whirlwind modern lives visual clutter and noisy distractions make it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Stress itself makes concentration more difficult but persevere; mental focus is an art that improves with practice. Marshalling your powers of concentration helps you feel calmer and in control.

Making time for Pilates

Because concentration is linked to focusing on priorities, it is also needed when you are planning your exercises. Start with small sessions of 20-30 minutes, and aim to work up to an hour. It is better to have 20 minutes of a rewarding workout than an hour simply going through the motions of a routine.