Pilates Without The Price Tag: FITting It In

As a Pilates instructor in NYC for fifteen years, I’ve heard every excuse.  Let’s get real.  I’ve given them too.  I don’t have time.  It’s too expensive.  The instructor is uptight.  The classes don’t fit my schedule.  It’s raining out.  I’m not flexible.  The exercises are too complicated.  I’m not coordinated.  Pilates is too serious. 

Even when you know all the exercises, it’s hard to motivate.  And, if you’re new to Joseph Pilates Method of Contrology (the original name- weird it didn’t catch on, right?), it can feel overwhelming.  By design, Pilates without an instructor, studio, or gym means you’re sunk.  At least that’s what we want you to think.

Pilates has a reputation for being intimidating and expensive, only for the most flexible, coordinated, and loaded.  If you’re lucky to live in a metropolis, there may be lots of classes and trainers to choose from, but otherwise it could be twenty-five miles to the nearest studio.  Classes, if you can even get to them, can be confusing and even boring with lots of talking and not enough moving.  Once you’ve carved out the time and shelled out the cash for a mat class or trainer, the last thing you want to deal with is an instructor who uses only long Latin anatomical names for easy body parts, who leaves you on your back lecturing on about breathing for twenty minutes, and refers to “Joe” like he’s in the room with you.

So- you give up.  Forget Pilates, I don’t have the patience, time, or money.   I’ll just do something else.  Or, nothing at all.  This is not the answer.  Don’t give up.  As frustrating as Pilates can be, the bottom line is, it works.  And, we all want the six-pack, toned, long and lean Pilates body, right?

As a mom of two, I figured out the secret.  It’s all about fitting Pilates into your life rather than your life into Pilates.  Christopher LoPresti speaks about multitasking in his piece, 7 Time Management Tips for Moms and Dads   “There are plenty of opportunities for you to kill two birds with one stone, and doing so can free up time in other areas of your life. Why not pay some bills online while you’re waiting for your little one to get out of karate? Or, invest in a Bluetooth headset so you can make calls while doing chores or driving to your next appointment.”  Multitasking is also the answer to fitness and self-care.  We have to fit it in.

How does working on your six-pack in bed sound?  Stretching your legs in the shower?  Tightening your butt on the commute?  Opening your hips at work?  Toning your arms on the toilet?  You can be doing Pilates all day long without going to a class, watching a DVD, or spending extra money.  You don’t need a mirror and you might even have fun!     

One of Joseph Pilates’ most famous quotes is, “In 10 sessions you’ll feel a difference.  In 20 sessions you’ll see the difference.  And in 30 sessions you will have a whole new body.”  Pilates practioners promise you will see results if you can commit to a mat or reformer (Pilates machine) workout three times a week.  As a certified Pilates instructor since 2001, I totally agree.  Problem is, how to fit all those sessions into an already overbooked schedule.

I haven’t had a single private Pilates client in fifteen years who’s been able to make the full 2-3 class commitment.  Instead, I’ve had to design exercises they can do in their home or office to accommodate their lives.  That meant designing exercises and routines around their apartments using what they had- a bed, shower, walls.  Nothing too complicated.  Nothing taking a lot of time.  As a professional choreographer, this offered a fun challenge and allowed creativity beyond just spitting out the same exercises.  From the busiest lawyer to the lady who lunches- each of my clients had their own series of rituals to repeat every day.

What we found out was by maximizing the time you already have, the benefits of Pilates came without the hassle.  The exercises became habit forming and the repetition got results.  Working out became less random and reliant on others.  And now, for a small percentage of my (admittedly!) ridiculously high Manhattan private Pilates rate, I’m offering these exercises to the masses in my new book Lazy Girl Pilates Morning available on Amazon.

Exercising as part of your day creates more time for extra projects, drinks after work, family, and friends. Don’t wait for the ideal class or time to commit.  “Most people I know are striving for some perfect moment,” Gabriella Ribeiro wrote in Why Imperfect is Cool. She’s right.  If we keep waiting for the perfect moment to do Pilates, or any exercise or self-care, it we will never happen.  We need to fit it in.

Kara Tatelbaum

Kara Tatelbaum received her BFA in Dance from Tisch School of the Arts as a University Honors Scholar at NYU and MFA in Choreography with an Assistantship in Teaching from SUNY Purchase. At twenty-one she started her own dance company, inde- pendentdancemaker, performing all over NYC and abroad, earning accolades from The New York Times, Dance Insider, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and The New York Press.
She earned her Mat Certi cation from Power Pilates and Reformer Certi cation from Pilates Academy International. She is also cer- ti ed in Poolates and has attended Pre/Post Natal, Chair, and Anatomy workshops, among others. As an in demand instructor, at one point Kara taught the most Pilates classes of any NYC Crunch Fitness instructor. She’s also been on staff at Clay, Club H, New York Health and Racquet Club, NYU Coles Gym, New York Yoga, and the 14th Street and Riverdale Y, with corporate clients includ- ing Penguin Publishing, Saatchi and Saatchi, and Time Inc.
Kara lives with her husband and two children in NYC.

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