Setting Goals for Pilates Exercise Success

by | Aug 21, 2013 | Pilates | 0 comments

bull's eyeThe Purpose Behind Your Pilates Training Plan Is the Fuel Needed for Setting Goals, Selecting the Right Pilates Exercises, and Achieving the Results you Desire.

  • Are Your Actions, Efforts, and Pilates Exercises in Line with Your Wellness Goals?

We all go through periods in our lives when we feel stuck in a rut. It could be your career, your Friday nights, or your exercise routine.  Spend too much time in the rut, and frustration can set in.  You may start to lose confidence in your abilities, second guess that what you’re doing is helping you at all, and potentially quit, drop-out, or lose hope that your life, career, fitness level – whatever it is,  will ever improve.

Keep in mind that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again (and expecting a different result.)  To get the right results from our efforts, we have to be sure that what we’re doing is what we really need to be doing to progress.

Do you have clear and specific goals for your Pilates program?

Saying, “I want to look better.”  Or, “I want to feel better.” Is great, but neither of these statements are clear, specific, or measurable.  If this is where you’re currently at with your wellness goals, it’s time to redefine your objectives.

So you have a goal to look better…  Let’s clarify what this means to you.  Do you want to lose a specific amount of weight?  What is your target goal weight in pounds?  Or how many pounds from your current weight do you want to lose – 5, 10, 15, or more?  You could also look at this from an “inch” measurement standpoint, or the size of clothes that you wear.  What size pants are you in now, what size do you really want to be?  (I’d encourage you to write these specific goals down too.) Put today’s date on the paper, and pick a realistic target date you want to achieve your goals by.  Having a target date gives you something to shoot for!  Even if you don’t quite reach your desired goal by the date – you’re heading in the right direction and have a little more incentive do the right things and push yourself towards success.

Do you want to “feel” better?  What does this mean to you?  And how will you know when you “feel” better?  Will you have alleviated lower back pain, reduced or eliminated knee or hip pain, will you have fewer headaches, sleep through the night, have the stamina to run a 10 minute mile with ease, be strong enough to lift a suitcase into the overhead bin on a plane without hurting your back or shoulders?  Do you want to be able to survive a long day at work and still have the energy to exercise or play with your kids at the end of the day?  There may be BIG or little things you can notice in your body, and daily life activities that can help you clearly measure your success for “feeling” better.   And knowing the things that you specifically want to change, are KEY in getting the right exercises into your workout program.

Are there specific Pilates exercises that are a challenge for you to do well, and you’d like to learn how to do them better?  What exercises do you struggle to do well in Pilates Mat class?  How about on the Reformer, Chairs, Barrels, or Cadillac/Tower?  Grab a pencil and paper, or make a note on your phone and write them down.

The great thing about Pilates is that there are so many different exercises and opportunities for fine tuning that even if you do the exact same exercises every day… for a week, a month, or years… you can shift your focus to find, and feel different parts of your body that need to coordinate and work together well to develop the healthy movement habits you need to stay strong, fit, and flexible.

A lot of other fitness systems rely on muscle “confusion” or the trainer’s thought process is,  “my clients will get bored and stop coming to class if I don’t do something different every time they show up for a workout.”  These types of workout programs do have value from a cross-training standpoint, but from the standpoint of deepening the mind-body connection to improve body awareness, body mechanics, and developing better muscle firing patterns for healthy movement habits, the repetition of doing the same exercises over, and over again with focused thought on improving execution with ever repetition – Pilates training wins the award for THE BEST Training System. In my opinion, hands down, Pilates is the best thing you can do for your body!

If you’re feel stuck in a rut with your Pilates classes or training sessions, clarify your health and wellness goals and consult with your Pilates Teacher to be sure they are aware of what you want to accomplish.  Ask your Pilates Instructor if there are new exercises or adaptations for the exercises you are already doing that can help progress you to the next level.  Or if you have physical goals outside of improving the traditional Pilates exercises in your workouts let your Pilates instructor know so you can work together to develop a plan of action to help you build the strength, endurance or flexibility to achieve your goals.

I have clients who have expressed goals such as:

  • “Unsticking” a frozen shoulder to be able to lift their arms overhead – pain-free.
  • To climb up and down stairs without knee pain or fear of falling.
  • To do a Pilates Roll Up, Neck Pull, Teaser, Roll Over
    (pick an exercise that’s challenging for you…)
  • To do the splits, or just be able to bend forward and touch their toes!
  • To progress from a beginner level Pilates class to intermediate,
    or intermediate to advanced Pilates workouts
  • To run/walk a ½ marathon, or do a triathlon without getting injured
  • To eliminate lower back or SI joint pain
  • To improve biomechanics and enhance technique for their sport (horseback riding, dance, running, walking, swimming, baseball, football, tennis, ect…)
  • To walk, run, or dance without foot pain
  • Even to be able to get down on the floor and back up again!

There are so many SPECIFIC goals you can have for your health improvement program!  And do you realize that just being aware of what your goals are can change your attitude and increase your motivation to get moving. 

Plus, sharing your desired goals with your Pilates teacher can go a long way to being sure that what you want to achieve is in sync with your training program.

If you want to lose 20 pounds, run a 6 minute mile, or bench press 250 pounds, chances are these goals aren’t going to be reached by just doing Pilates!  But Pilates CAN keep you active in a non-weight bearing position while you’re losing weight to help reduce stress and pressure on your joints.  Pilates can help you improve awareness for body mechanics and better breathing habits to enhance your running stride.  And while you’ll need to be in the weight room to practice your bench press, doing Pilates can help you better support your core and learn how to stabilize your body position to maximize your efforts for safer weight lifting.

 I strongly encourage you to discuss YOUR specific health improvement goals with your Pilates instructor.

  • Be clear and targeted with what you want to achieve.
  • Know why you’re doing Pilates as a part of your weekly workout program.
  • Know where you’d like to see your Pilates & physical fitness training take you.

Honestly, as a Pilates teacher, just hearing my clients say, “I just want you to just tell me what to do and give me a workout” when I ask them if there is anything specific they’d like to work on, kind of takes the fun out of teaching.  Yes I can make good decisions for what I think you need to work on, and it’s not a problem to put you through your paces for a workout.  But if you don’t really know WHY you’re there, how can I be sure I’m doing my best to provide services that meet your expectations and help you get the long term results you are wanting from your workouts?  If you’re paying me to help you, it’s extremely helpful for me to know what you want to achieve! Ask any Pilates teacher, if they’d rather do what they want, or help you achieve what YOU want and I’m betting my friends and fellow Pilates teachers feel just like me.

By setting goals and sharing them with your Pilates teacher, together as a team, we can start working on exercises that will take your body and whole-body health to the next level. 

Whether you are in group Pilates classes, participate in private Pilates training, or are doing at-home Pilates workouts, setting goals is an important strategy for Pilates training success.

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.



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