Pilates Demystified

Pilates on the reformer is my absolute favorite type of exercise to do and as long as you combine it with cardio you don’t have to do much else to stay long, lean and toned. Seriously.  I’m not pulling your leg.  It’s an amazing workout, especially for your core.  You want good abs, do pilates.

I’ve been going to classes pretty religiously at least twice a week for the past couple of years and I met Mandee during a noon session about 2 years ago.  You always chat it up with people in class and we hit it off, talking about pilates obviously but also that we were both runners, doing Hood To Coast, blogged…you know.  Important stuff.  And just recently, Mandee did something that totally inspired me – she  became a certified pilates instructor!  I’m so proud of her :)  I mean, talk about chasing your dreams.  And because I do my best to be motivating on this little blog, I wanted to bring in someone who motivates me and so I asked her to come share her story.  Read what she has to say below and then follow along with her on her site, You Say It Best. You can also find her on Twitter.

And with that, take it away Mandee…


I’d like to tell you about an exercise that changed my life and my body. Right after college I started working for a large sports company, where everyone seems to be fitter than fit. There are several sports facilities on campus and it seemed like everyone was always working out—and not just working out, but hard-core working out. Since I had just come out of THE most unhealthy year of my life—think binge drinking, late night snacking, 4th meal and way too many ‘study snacks’ I felt like I did not fit in. I still remember one of my first time’s in the gym here. A co-worker invited me to go to spin class with her on lunch hour. I had still been working out despite my lifestyle, so I was able to keep up in spin. But afterward, we showered and started getting ready together, I remember looking in the mirror while getting dressed and noticing how lumpy and pudgy I had gotten! Something needed to change—all of these women in the dressing room looked amazing and I did not fit in. What was their secret? If it was the intense work-outs, count me out. I cannot do a Jillian style workout 7 days a week, and those are the main types of classes that are offered in this gym. It took me a while to find what worked, when a few months later I discovered reformer Pilates and it quickly changed my life and my body!

What is Pilates? Pilates is a series of exercises created by Joseph Pilates. The exercises were created with the intention to strengthen the human body and mind. They have an emphasis on a strong core, so many of the exercises will be abdominal related. The most popular type is Mat Pilates with a close second of Reformer Pilates. Whit asked me to clear up some of the questions people have (what exactly is a Pilates reformer?) so here goes.

Pilates began as a Mat routine but many of the initial clients Joseph had were sickly and in the hospital, so he began to make apparatuses to assist in the exercises out of things like mattress springs. Hence, the reformer is born.

The reformer uses springs to give resistance to the exercises. Many of them are the same as the Mat routine, but there are many more exercises you can do on the reformer that are unique due to the opportunity to add resistance and further stretch your body. For me, the reformer was the key to getting toned. I NEVER lift weights, but do Reformer Pilates twice a week. My triceps are defined and I have plenty of muscles in my legs, not to mention my core strength is pretty great. There is a huge variety of exercises you can do on the reformer and the straps and springs help lengthen and stretch as you exercise. There are also several other types of equipment such as the Chair, Barrels and Cadillac, but I won’t overwhelm you with those just yet.

Concentration is super important with Pilates. This is not one of those exercises where you can zone out and go through the motions—you must pay attention to the muscles that are working and make sure you are engaging the correct muscles, as well as always engaging your pelvic floor muscle. (read—the muscle you contract if you were to stop peeing mid flow). This muscles works together with the transverse abdominis to give you the abs you are looking for!

The combination of pretty intense cardio (running for me, spin or intervals for others) Pilates and a healthy diet is what I think is the winning combo to a fit lifestyle and body. I don’t believe you can ONLY do Pilates and have the results you want—you need to add some cardio in there as well. After 3 years of doing Pilates on the Mat & Reformer, and one year spent intensely studying to become a certified Instructor, here are my top 5 Benefits…

To be continued tomorrow :)

And it was just getting good right?  Trust me, you’ll want to come back to hear more of what Mandee has to say.  The girl knows her stuff and has the body to prove it.

If you have more questions, feel free to email Mandee at pilateswithmandee@gmail.com. She offers private Mat Pilates in your home or hers, and group classes in SW Portland on a beautiful rooftop terrace with 360 views of Portland!


12 thoughts on “Pilates Demystified

  1. Awesome guest post, I loved learning about the differences between pilates and pilates reformer (I’ve seen the reformer classes before and always wondered…) This really sounds like something I’d be interested in trying.

  2. I love this information about pilates! I went to college with Mandee and she’s awesome, I definitely admire her drive to become an instructor, way to go girl!!! I am running-lift weights work out type…I need to give this a try, it sounds like a fantastic work out.

  3. Mandee has been teaching mat-based Pilates at the apartment building where we both live, and I think she’s done a great job of working with those who attend her classes. She is focused, friendly, and very knowledgeable about what she does, and she also offers gentle encouragement and instruction.

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