The Value of Matwork

Before I was certified on the Pilates equipment, I had my Mat certification for about two years. Eventually, I got fully certified, and soon found that I chose to do a lot of my workouts on the equipment, since there is so much variety available and I love using the equipment for my clients. However, when Covid hit and I no longer had access to equipment, all my workouts turned to the mat. I began doing mat workouts about four times a week, and suddenly had to give all of my clients effective mat workouts, as everything went virtual.

Some instructors may feel like it’s hard to be creative on the mat, but as I worked more and took classes from other instructors, I found that matwork can be both extremely valuable and also creative. Combining matwork exercises and repeating them can be a creative way to design a workout that flows and challenges endurance. Also, focusing on using one prop throughout the workout can create a focus and help clients master that particular prop, such as the Fitness Circle, or the Flex Band. Joseph Pilates actually created the equipment work so that his clients could be stronger on the mat. Many times there is a misconception that mat work is the easiest, because it doesn’t involve equipment. It is actually the opposite, in my opinion. It is extremely HARD work, since you have no assistance from the springs.

Over the months of quarantine, I noticed my clients getting so strong, since through matwork they were learning to control their own body and create their OWN resistance. This is an incredibly powerful skill in Pilates and in any movement, because then when they get back on the equipment they’ll be able to control their movements against the external resistance of the springs. I always tell clients, the work is never about the prop. The prop will not make you do the work properly, whether it’s a band, a weight, or a Reformer. The only one who can do the work effectively is YOU in your body!

So this is all to say if you usually shy away from mat workouts and only work on the equipment (which, we all love the equipment!) I would encourage you to add one or two mat workouts into your routine per week!

Lynn Tofil
Senior STOTT PILATES® Instructor