Ask the Pilates Instructor

By Maggie Kathryn Dill

Pilates Day is the first Saturday in May, so let’s learn about pilates from pilates instructor Maggie Kathryn Dill!

I started in this industry at the age of 18 on an island in south Florida. At the time, I was a live-in nanny and knew I had to find a job fast. I was extremely lucky to have exceptional mentors who took me in and helped me become a Pilates Instructor. It was my first job outside of being a nanny, and I absolutely fell in love with helping people live a healthier lifestyle.

I lost my father to ALS (or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), therefore I enjoyed being a part of preventative care. Anatomy really interested me, and learning about how to help people with either a medical issue or a sports injury kept me excited about this career. I’ve been able to travel with this job and live in some beautiful places. After a knee injury in Telluride, Colorado, it brought me back to Florida where I currently teach Pilates at Gainesville Health & Fitness.

What exactly is Pilates?

Pilates, to me, is a form of exercise that anyone can do! It focuses on alignment and learning how to use your muscular system properly.

What would you say to someone to get them started in Pilates?

I would recommend a private lesson first to fully understand the equipment and have an expert’s set of eyes on you. It’s a form of exercise that uses both your body and mind. There are a lot of new things to learn when you start doing Pilates, and like all new things, you have to learn the basics first in order to give it an honest try.

I am not very flexible, is Pilates still a good option for me?

That’s exactly why you should do Pilates! The Pilates equipment was specifically made for people wanting to increase their
flexibility, who needed more assistance. If you’ve had a muscular tear, trouble reaching your toes or limited range of motion in any joint of your body, you are perfect for Pilates!

Can I do Pilates at home if I can’t get to the gym?

Mat Pilates is an excellent on-the-go form of exercise if you have a hectic schedule. Scheduling a private session with an instructor helps to create a routine that you can take anywhere. There is also a Netflix-like website for Pilates called PilatesAnytime that has tons of videos to choose from!

My 13-year-old daughter wants to get involved with Pilates, is that something that would be beneficial for her?

It is. I believe understanding posture and learning how your muscular system function are the best things you can do for that age. I can’t tell you how many times I hear in a week from people asking “Why isn’t this taught in public schools?” or “I wish I would’ve started this so much sooner.” It’s also a much safer form of fitness for developing bodies. However, you have to be cautious not to overload the joints at a young age because they are still developing. Another reason is that it creates body positivity. Instead of using exercise as a form of punishment, it promotes exercise as a form of learning and excitement.

Is Pilates good for burning calories or muscle building?

There is a piece of Pilates equipment called the jump board that is a cardiovascular workout. However, Pilates primarily promotes strength and flexibility. To achieve a cardio workout in Pilates you really have to know what you’re doing and be in the right class (jumpboard or a barre class for example) or with the right private instructor. I recommend beginner clients who are trying to achieve weight loss to incorporate cardio before or after their session while they are still learning about Pilates.

I have horrible balance. Will I benefit from doing Pilates?

Again, that’s why you should do Pilates! It depends where you’re at in your overall fitness level to determine how you should approach your exact Pilates regimen, but work on it. That’s the only way for your balance to improve.

How often should you do Pilates?

Pilates is a form of exercise that doesn’t require a significant amount of recovery time. This is due to not pushing the muscles to the point of breaking down the muscle tissue. Pilates focuses more on long lean muscles versus bulking on muscle mass. You can do Pilates up to six times per week. However, I recommend giving yourself a small goal of twice a week and add on additional days when you are ready.

Can you do Pilates in addition to other workouts?

If you look at the media of Pilates lately, you’ll see a multitude of athletes athletes taking advantage of the Pilates equipment. They use it as a form of cross training. It can be used as a form of recovery for any other sport/training you may be doing.

Photos courtesy of Maggie Kathryn Dill