As a Pilates instructor, I often get the question, “Where should I feel this?” It seems like a simple enough question, but often the answer can be complicated. I often find when people ask me this they want to know if they are doing the exercise correctly. And if they are “feeling it” in the correct place. Or maybe something is hurting during the exercise.
My short answer to the question is usually, “Everywhere!” But that answer, of course, needs a little explanation.
Pilates Is A Personal Experience
Through years of teaching I’ve found that you can’t answer this the same for every person or every exercise. You see, Pilates works the entire body all the time. The exercises are designed to have the body completely engaged, and working as efficiently as possible. So depending on what is tight, strong, or weak in your body, you may “feel” a particular exercise completely different than someone else. And you are both doing the exercise completely correct for your body on that given day!
The Pilates Method of exercise doesn’t teach us to isolate specific muscles. But to integrate our body and work as a whole. Instead of focusing on one or two particular muscles groups, I prefer people to focus on how an exercise makes their body feel as a whole. Check in, and find the whole body engagement. Create a sense of moving from your center, and creating length throughout your whole body.
If you are feeling like some muscles are overworking or something hurts, then it’s important to let your instructor know. This way he/she can give you some adjustments that will help you find a more balanced approach to that exercise. And if you really want to know what muscles you are working, feel free to ask your instructor. Most instructors would love the chance to explain all of the different muscles that have to engage for you to do a particular Pilates exercise. Just don’t expect a short answer!!