I was working with a client this week, and we got off on a discussion about the use of mirrors for Pilates exercise programs. In the 3 different Pilates studio locations I’ve owned – I had mirrors everywhere! However, right now, I’m teaching in a space with no mirrors… Well, actually, I’ve got a small, portable full-length mirror that I pull out of the closet occasionally, when we really need it, but I’m finding that I’m having my client’s rely on their eyeballs less, and what they are feeling more – and the result is an enhanced brain-body connection and quicker improvements finding the right stuff to enhance technique for all of their Pilates exercises.
So what’s a positive benefit of having mirrors to watch the body during Pilates exercises?
- You can get a quick form check, and see body alignment do’s and don’ts.
- If you (or your clients) don’t have the body awareness to “feel” where they are at in space, a mirror can help them “see” what they are doing.
And the not-so-great benefits of using mirrors for Pilates:
- If people have a negative body image – every time they look in the mirror, they may be mentally beating themselves up for how they look, which is emotionally counter-productive to using the mirror for positive corrections in technique.
- People tend to over rely on mirror to get feedback on form and posture, instead of “feeling” where their body is in space and making adjustments from there.
- Once the head turns to check out what’s happening in the mirror, correct muscle use and alignment changes, and this may not be optimal for the exercise.
- Mirrors may not be on both sides of the body, so if the head turns to take a peek at your body position – it may be turning the same direction every time you check things out in the mirror. This means we may actually be developing muscle imbalances when the goal of Pilates training is balanced muscle development!
We are a visual society, and our eyes are helpful in improving technique. But Pilates is about deepening the mind-body connection to improve whole-body health. If you have to always “see” what you’re doing – only one of your senses is being developed. If you have to rely on your Pilates teacher to always “see” what you’re doing, you are relying on somebody else’s eyeballs to bring things to your conscious awareness, and over time, you may begin to feel somewhat co-dependent on your Pilates trainer.
But if YOU can feel it, YOU can fix it!
And developing this body awareness will carry through from your Pilates exercises out of the studio and back to daily life! When this happens, everything you do for exercise and movement can be done with the principles of Pilates in mind, and the results will be amazing!
So if you’re a constant head-turning, mirror watching, Pilates student (or teacher!) – I want to challenge you to make it all the way through a workout without taking a peek at your posture in the mirror! Feel what you’re doing and enjoy the challenge of Looking IN instead of Out to help deepen your body awareness and maximize the benefits from your Pilates workouts.
Love to hear what you think about Mirrors vs. No Mirrors for Pilates Workouts:
- If you’re a Pilates teacher….what are your thoughts on using mirrors with your Pilates students? Are they more of a help or hindrance to you?
- If you’re a Pilates student…on average – how many times during a workout do you normally take a peek at your posture in the mirror?