The Pilates technique is an excellent way of educating yourself and understanding, through movement, how your body works, in part and as a whole. Harmony comes from the integration of isolated parts.

“Each muscle may cooperatively and loyally aid in the uniform development of all our muscles.” Joseph Pilates

For many years Pilates teachers have talked about isolating different muscles. Yet it is only theoretically possible to see them in isolation; in practice, your muscles work together in groups. Often, in regular exercise classes focus has been on “spot reducing” certain areas to achieve a desired look. But in doing this you develop one muscle at the expense of another. Consequently the whole balance of the body is thrown out of kilter. This “lopsided” approach is altogether at odds with the logic of the Pilates method.

Muscle Balance In Pilates

So, when we talk about isolation in Pilates we are simply making sure that you identify all your muscles for yourself, especially the weaker ones. Pilates exercises ensure you develop the neglected areas of the body that work alongside opposing, stronger muscles. For example, if you are a golfer, you know that when you play, you only swing in one direction. Over a period of time your body then becomes over-trained in this direction. Although not all of us play golf, we all harbor muscle imbalances to some degree. It is not uncommon to discover these over- or under-trained areas through Pilates.

Touch And Visualize

Sit down on a chair with a dumbbell, bag of sugar, or bottle of water to use as a weight. Sitting upright, hold the weight above your head in the right hand, with your right arm stretched straight toward the ceiling. Bring the left hand up to touch the back of your upper right arm with the tips of your fingers, keeping your right elbow close to your head.

Pilates Self-Practing Routines

Pilates Self-Practing Routines

Lower the weight slightly behind your head and lift it back again to the ceiling. With the fingers of your left hand feel the triceps muscle at the back of the arm contracting and extending. Repeat 10-20 times. Now shift the weight to the other hand and repeat. Finally, repeat the movement without the weight and without touching the triceps. From what you have just experienced, try and visualize the muscle working.

Making the Most of Self Isolation: Learn Pilates

Weak Links

Try to be aware of any imbalance in muscle strength or flexibility as you perform the movements. Your goal here is to work toward strengthening the weaker of the two sets of muscles so that balance is regained. Otherwise, as you get stronger you will remain proportionally imbalanced. Try the ‘Touch and visualize” exercise (see box) to better understand how your muscles work. Learn to identify the location of, say, your tricep without actually having to touch it. Visualization techniques help you connect mentally with the muscle. Over time you will be able to feel and identify various muscles working in combination as you perform the movements.