8 Common Pilates Mistakes

Posted on May 17, 2017


When it is done properly, Pilates can improve your posture, strengthen your muscles, and promote better flexibility. But it may not be as easy as it looks. Relying largely on the right positions and techniques, Pilates requires practice and proper guidance. Here are some of the common Pilates mistakes that most people make. Check out this list before your next class to keep in mind the errors you need to avoid.

Incorrect Pelvic Placement

This is a very important position that needs to be straightened out from your very first session. There are two main pelvic placements in Pilates – neutral and imprint. Neutral is assumed by maintaining the normal natural curve of the lower back. Upon lying on your back, your hip bones and pubic bones should be positioned parallel to the mat. Your lower back should not touch or press upon the mat, but it should not cause you any strain and this should feel stable and natural.

Maintaining the neutral position when your feet are on the floor or on the bar in reformer pilates, sessions should work towards maintaining neutral for all movements. Progress requires strong abdominal muscles which then brings us to imprint. Imprint occurs when there is a slight tuck of the pelvis making you feel that your lower back is connecting to the floor. This will give some stability in your movement but your body is rocking all over the place as you do other moves.

If you are unsure of your pelvic positioning, always ask your instructor as this is the bedrock of your workout.

Poor Breathing Techniques

One of the core principles in Pilates is breathing. Joseph Pilates installed in this exercise the importance of inhaling at the beginning of every movement to draw in oxygen and exhaling towards the end to release unoxygenated air out of the body and leave you feeling invigorated.

There are different styles of breathing in Pilates, one of which is lateral thoracic breathing. It involves breathing into your ribs and side preventing you from bracing. Some students tend to hold their breath, but as if bracing for positions or balance, but this will only do the opposite.

Your Pilates instructor will assist you by causing you to breathe properly. To give you a heads up, you can follow the simple Pilates pattern which is to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Exhaling during sessions are typically loud, so, feel free to push air out through your mouth because in doing so also releases the tension from your neck.

Missing the Pauses

Pilates are designed to have deliberate pauses. This is to prevent momentum from taking over your motion. Remember, this is not a race, so going slowly is key!


Having mentioned about pauses, we now go to the pace of the choreography. Pilates is not like your upbeat cardio exercises where harder, heavier, or faster is better. It was originally called Contrology because it focuses on maintaining control through your movements. Control also leads one to use the right muscles to build a strong core.

Pilates takes its own sweet time. If you find yourself finishing faster than everyone else in the class, ask your instructor if you are still doing things properly. Your form, alignment, and breathing might have to be checked if you aim to get the right results. You should not rush instead focus on executing every movement with a focus on the quality and not on the quantity. This approach can take discipline, control, and mindfulness.

Losing Focus

Pilates is a mind-body exercise and focus will help you connect the brain and the brawn. With good focus, you are able to get careful, precise and slow foundation work.

Concentration means the direction of attention to a single objective – in this case the mastery of a given Pilates exercise. The sole intention is to have the student perform the exercises as correctly as possible given his or her current level would allow. This starts with a mental checklist of the points to focus on each exercise. Concentration will also help one to be aware of the breathing pattern, correct alignment, and stabilization throughout the execution of the exercise.

Having the Need to Feel the Burn

Pilates is not like your average workout. You don’t have to feel your muscle burn to know that the exercise is working. Yes, some moves would make you feel your muscles turning, but there are certain exercises that don’t necessarily have to make you feel anything in the beginning. If this concerns you, ask your instructor how a certain move should make you feel. This will also tell you if you are indeed assuming the right positions and alignment.

Not Getting Into the Flow

Flow is one of the important aspects of Pilates. Without it one also don’t have the deep understanding of the movement and precise muscle activation and timing. Flow allows you to progress into movement proficiency through practice. each session should have a more esoteric use of flow.

Giving Up After Your First Session

Pilates is no walk in the park. It comes with a whole lot of discipline for you to achieve the right moves and level of concentration. Throwing in the towel after your first try won’t get you to experience the beauty of having a stronger core, better body alignment, and the numerous benefits that this exercise has to offer. Like all things that promise to create beauty, in the end, they don’t come easy! It’s a process before you get the right alignment or control, and dedication is necessary if you want to see results!

Challenge yourself with something new and join our classes today! If you are still testing the waters, you may grab our $60 promo which is good for three sessions. We hope to see you soon!

Photo credit: Saundi Wilson Photography via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA