What is Pilates?
Pilates, pronounced Peelateese, is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates in Germany. As of 2005 there are 11 million people who practice the discipline regularly and 14,000 instructors in the United States. Pilates called his method Contrology (from control and Greek -Aoyla, -logia), because he believed his method uses the mind to control the muscles. The program focuses on the core postural muscles which help keep the body balanced and which are essential to providing support for the spine. In particular, Pilates exercises teach awareness of breath and alignment of the spine, and aim to strengthen the deep torso muscles.
I have heard of the Reformer and Cadillac. What are these things and what do they have to do with Pilates?
Many people have heard of the mat or floor work developed by Joseph Pilates, because most of the books, videos and classes offered cover this specific version of the Pilates’ method of physical conditioning. Although it is agreed that originally Pilates developed the mat work as the basis of his philosophies on physical conditioning, the apparatus he developed later in his career has proved to be an indispensable part of practicing and understanding the method.
The Reformer, designed with a moving carriage, springs, straps, and adjustable foot bar allows clients to perform exercises lying prone, supine, sitting and standing.
The Cadillac, which is also known as the Trapeze Table, is a large apparatus with poles, springs, push through bar, roll down bar, trapeze strap, and woolies. This piece of apparatus was created to address specific rehabilitative and alignment needs, as well as to assist in stretching and understanding symmetrical movement, thus transitioning the body through plateaus.
The Chair, one of the most challenging pieces of apparatus, is normally used as an addition to your regular Pilates exercise recommendations, but can also be used as the sole piece of equipment during a session. Other additional pieces of apparatus include the high barrel, the spine corrector, the barrel system, magic circles, the foot corrector, the ped-o-pul, the orthopedic ball, and other small bands, balls and weights.
What should I wear to class?
Wear something you are comfortable moving in, that will allow you to breathe, bend and stretch without constriction. Elastic waistbands are highly recommended. However, do not wear anything too loose or bulky as it hinders the instructor’s ability to visually analyze body placement, thus decreasing the effectiveness of your session or class. Exercises can be performed either barefoot or in stockings.
There are Pilates classes, taught by certified instructors at the gym for free. Why should I go to a Pilates “studio” and have to pay?
The main difference between pilates classes at a gym and at a Pilates studio is class size, certification level, and use of apparatus: In general gym classes tend to be larger and less supervised. This can be dangerous for students who are not fully aware of their bodies and have not mastered the principles and fundamentals of Pilates before engaging in higher level exercises. Some instructors will give modifications to less experienced students, but it is hard for even the best instructors to be aware of too many people at one time. This MAY result in injury, unsatisfactory results, and frustration. Classes at Synergy+ have between 3-8 students as a maximum. Our instructors have gone through comprehensive training programs of 400 hours or more. Please visit our Staff (coming soon) page for a full listing of our Instructors credentials. Many gyms do not offer qualified individual instruction on high caliber apparatus, which is a staple of Pilates studios.
Will Pilates help me to lose weight? Is Pilates an aerobic exercise? How long will it take to see results?
Pilates is known for creating long lean bodies. In Pilates we develop strength using low weight and isolated muscles so as not to develop the bulk that a weight lifter might gain. Toning and strengthening may not make you lose weight, but should make you go down in clothing size as you turn fat into muscle. Although Pilates is not known to be aerobic exercise, there are many ways to incorporate the cardiovascular component into an individual exercise plan, either within the Pilates workout, or by augmenting it with a cardio warm up, or wrap-up. Our aim is to help our clients reach their physical goals. We work with each individual to develop a plan that is best for them.
What is the difference between Yoga and Pilates?
Yoga, a wonderful Eastern discipline, has similarities to Pilates mainly because of the fact Joseph Pilates had studied Eastern forms of movement and incorporated them into his method. There are distinct differences though. Some clients who have experienced both forms of movement, remark on the difference between the breathing, linear movement patterns and the fluidity of movement that is provided by Pilates. In addition, Pilates focuses on strengthening the core through discreet muscle movements, whereas Yoga strengthens by moving through postures.
Am I too old (young) for Pilates?
Pilates is ageless. The age range of our client base is from about age 12- 84. When taught by a skilled instructor, Pilates can address issues and increase strength of any willing individual, regardless of age. In fact, the instructor should be able to help each individual reach their age based target goals weather it is to dance professionally, or stand and walk tall and straight!
I am Pregnant. Can I do Pilates?
Pilates can be very beneficial to your body during pregnancy. It can help you maintain strength throughout pregnancy, as well as prepare your muscles for the actual birth. Post birth, Pilates is one of the most advantageous forms of exercise, because of its focus on core control including the muscles of the pelvic floor, abdomen, back and gluteus. Please refer to our Articles page or contact us for more information.
I have chronic back pain and returning flare-ups of old injuries, can Pilates help? I was recently injured. I heard Pilates was a form of rehabilitation, will it work for me?
Pilates is a wonderful rehabilitation tool. At Synergy+ we specialize in Pilates post injury. During your initial session, we will set you up with a Physical Therapist who will be able to assess and prescribe an appropriate treatment program for you. As our physical therapist is also a fully certified Pilates instructor, she will be able to move you into full Pilates exercise and make sure that you have a smooth and pain free transition from rehab into recreational Pilates. Pilates develops strength, stability, balance and symmetry in the body, which is the usual course of rehabilitation post injury. The fusion between fitness and rehab is why Synergy+ was created. We do our best to take those of you who have been injured and maximize your bodies potential while minimizing pain. For more information contact us.
I bought a Pilates Instructional Video, is it the same as taking a class?
Pilates videos and books can be wonderful tools for supplementing your training in Pilates under a qualified instructor. Pilates is an exact form of movement. It is highly recommended that you first learn Pilates under the direction of a fully certified instructor before attempting to do the exercises on your own. Videos are limited in their ability to identify body types and styles, sometimes creating a condition that could lead to injury. Please choose any Pilates video carefully and be aware that Pilates in and of itself is not a weight loss exercise program.
I bought a Pilates apparatus on television, is it basically the same as the equipment used in studios?
There are a lot of different types of Pilates apparatus out there these days. Some of the more popular pieces of apparatus sold on television, for example, are rarely the type you’d find in a Pilates studio. Be very careful when making choices about purchasing apparatus. There are a lot of very unsafe pieces of apparatus on the market today. If you are planning on purchasing Pilates equipment and have any questions regarding the quality of the manufacturer please contact us for a list of recommended suppliers.
I am biking and developing knee and/or LBP (lower back pain). Is this something that you can help me with?
Pilates is excellent for strengthening and stretching muscles that may get tight, fatigued or overused while cycling. We are also able to perform a bike fit in the studio to take a look at how you are riding and how the bike fits your body. A bike fit should optimize the use of your muscles on the bike and decrease pain in the body. A strong core will increase center and balance on the bike with the goal of increasing performance through increasing movement efficiency.
I have had surgery, when can I start Pilates?
Depending upon the type of surgery that you have had, you should be able to start working with us at Synergy immediately post-op. We usually start our post –op clients with a pre-Pilates repertoire that is administered by a Physical Therapist. From there as strength, stability and healing take place, (usually about 6-8 weeks post op) we move into a more classic Pilates Repertoire. Keep in mind that post surgery and/or injury, there are often exercises that are better avoided in the long term. Working with a Physical Therapist/ Pilates instructor will get our clients on a safe and effective Pilates program. A Doctor’s approval should be obtained prior to the start of any exercise program post-op.
Do you bill my insurance company?
We can bill your insurance as an 0ut of network provider because we do not have any contract agreement with any insurance company. Insurance companies reinburse for out of network providers depending on your insurance benefits. Before billing your insurance we check your benefits for Physical Therapy as well as Pilates (insurance companies will also reimburse for Pilates) with the insurance, and depending on the benefits, you are required to pay your co-payment or the balance between the amount covered by the insurance and the cost of the treatment, at the time of treatment. Please note that some insurances require a referral from your doctor. For cash payments, our fees are usually lower than when billing the insurance.
How often do I need to do Pilates to see results?
In order to see results with Pilates, It should be practiced 3 times a week. This can be a mix of private classes, group classes, and home exercises. At Synergy+ we are happy to work with you on a plan that will meet your needs physically, logistically, and financially.
Can I participate in Pilates if I have osteoporosis? Will it help me prevent further bone loss?
We are happy to work with our clients who have osteoporosis and create a program that is suitable and safe for them. We have created a modified Pilates repertoire for those of our clients with osteoporosis and osteopenia that emphasizes alignment of the body, lengthening the spine, increasing balance and coordination, as well as strengthening core muscles. We use extra caution to not put the client at risk of vertebral fracture and to increase exercises that will appropriately stress the bones to increase their health and growth.
What is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy provides services for people with limited ability to move and function in their daily lives. A physical therapist is a licensed professional who will examine you and develop a treatment plan to increase your ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.
The goals of physical therapy are to improve your mobility (such as walking, going up stairs, or getting in and out of bed), to relieve your pain, and to restore your physical function and overall fitness. Depending on your injury, disease, or condition, you may need to work on flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination, and/or balance.
Why should I choose Synergy+ for Physical Therapy?
At Synergy+ we focus on the needs and goals of our clients. As a patient at Synergy+, you can expect courteous treatment directly from the Physical Therapist, versus working with an assistant or aide. We also focus on hands on or manual treatment and therapeutic exercise as these have been shown to be the most successful ways to help people heal and prevent re-occurrence of injuries. We specialize in orthopedics, sports related injuries (or strengthening for sports), and women’s health, (issues before and after the birth of a baby, incontinence related to muscle control in the pelvic region, osteoporosis, and breast cancer).
Although we ask for payment at the time of visit, many insurance companies will reimburse a portion of your Physical Therapy visit. In this case a referral from your doctor is often necessary. We will be more than happy to help you through this process. Please contact us directly for more details.
What happens at a Physical Therapy visit?
At your first physical therapy visit, your physical therapist will review your medical history and do a physical evaluation to determine a plan of care to meet your body’s needs. The therapist will work with you to determine your goals for physical therapy and to begin planning your treatment. We will work with you to develop a plan of care that will suit your physical needs. We do our best to give you tips/information that you can apply into your daily life as well as develop an exercise program that will help you maximize your function and decrease pain. Follow up visits will usually involve a quick evaluation of your progress, and move into exercises and education about your body.
What kind of treatment do Physical Therapists do?
A Physical Therapists focus is on increasing and maximizing physical function. We use manual therapy techniques to align the body, and do our best to educate clients on proper posture, and positioning for everyday life. This will decrease negative pressure on the body and allow healing to take place. We also often prescribe exercises that will help you return to full function and prevent re-injury. As each injury and/or surgery is different, each individual program will be unique based on need and personal goals.
Do I need a referral (prescription) to see a Physical Therapist?
You do not need a Prescription to come in and see a Physical Therapist, however, most insurance companies will not reimburse without a referral. It is always advised to get a doctor’s approval post surgery or during pregnancy prior to the start of any physical exercise program.
-SYNERGY+ Physical Therapy & Pilates Studio
500 Tamal Plaza, Suite 507, Corte Madera, CA 94925 • 415.924.2228