Benefits include strong core muscles, lean look



photos by Isabela Szydlo/for Metro Vancouver


Monique Haziza demonstrates Pilates using equipment at her Coal Harbour studio.


With both legs extended straight above her head, Monique Haziza appears relaxed. She’s actually working core muscles and toning her body with Pilates.

The workout system creates a long, lean look through breathing patterns combined with leg and arm movements.

“Most people are only aware of the mat work,” said Haziza, owner of Pilates Unlimited in Coal Harbour. “But there’s also equipment Pilates, which provides resistance. Ideally the two would be integrated.”

Dana D’Abreo demonstrates mat Pilates at her Kits studio.

Dana D’Abreo, founder of Kitsilano-based ProActive Pilates, said before using equipment, know your body.

“It’s all about … connecting the brain to the muscles and that’s going to take … time,” she said.

However, D’Abreo said there are benefits to both aspects of the Pilates system.

“Mat … (is) more economical and you’re able to add apparatus like weights,” she said. “The equipment is better for someone who wants personal assistance and it challenges the core activation more because of the resistance.”

Both instructors agreed that it is vital for beginners to start in a class setting rather than trying the wide-range of available DVDs.

“Pilates is so very different in the way that it works that doing it incorrectly … could potentially hurt you,” said Haziza.

She added that although Pilates skyrocketed because of celebrity endorsements, it is still popular simply because it works.

The long list of Pilate users includes Oprah, Jennifer Aniston and even Hugh Grant.

According to Grant said, “Now I have muscles of steel and could easily deal with giving birth.”

Pilates tips

  • It’s best to wear comfortable, stretchy and fitted clothes.

  • Pilates will not bulk you up, but you’ll definitely define the muscles.

  • Instructors recommended doing Pilates two to three times a week for an hour at a time.