If you’ve practiced Pilates at all, you’ve certainly noticed repetition is not the name of the game. In bootcamp, crossfit, or weight training the goal is often to do many repetitions or multiple sets of a certain exercise. In Pilates, we don’t really do that. At times, we may do just three repetitions of a movement or choreography. At most we are doing 10 repetitions of double leg on the bar, for example.
In Pilates, the goal is to work on precision not quantity. The goal is to improve how we move not increase the number of times we move. What can happen with multiple repetitions is form goes out the window and momentum takes over. At that point we are no longer working the muscle group efficiently and possibly not very safely either by the end. The last rep is no where near the form of the first rep. Precise movement builds strength where we want to build strength. In Pilates, we aspire to have all repetitions be precisely the same or possible better than the last.
BUT … that being said repetition does have a place in Pilates. The repetition I am referring to is repeating the same movement from class to class. There are some exercises we will do in just about every class. Why is that? Some movements like extension, I believe we all need due to our flexion- forward lifestyles. We are often going to do our knee strengthening exercise because rarely is their a class without someone who needs it! Glutes are another area I believe most of us need. We tend to as a society have turned off glutes. Pilates is our place to turn them back on.
Repetition is where the real work comes in. It is up to you to feel the movement every time and not become a robot. It is up to you to work for precision. It is up to you to work for improvements and connections. I can cue you and remind you, but you must remember how important this kind of repetition is for our body. So next time we do the hundreds or arm circles or double leg work, pay attention. Focus. What are you doing better than the last time? What is tight or loose today? What do you still need to work on? Not sure – ask and I’ll tell you what I think you can improve on … nicely of course! And I’ll also tell you where I feel you have already improved.
Repetition is not a bad word in Pilates … It’s just a different focus!