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Introduction to pilates

These six core moves will acquaint you with popular, accommodating fitness regimen

CHICAGO – With some fitness regimens, that first trip to the gym can nearly kill you.

Pilates, with its emphasis on core training and an abundance of moves, works the other way.

“The first time is almost the easiest,” says Alycea Ungaro, owner of Real Pilates in New York ( and author of “Pilates: Body in Motion” (DK Publishing). “It gets harder after that. Once you know what to do, the bar gets higher, the demand gets harder. You see things you’re doing wrong and you fix them. You work harder.”

Ungaro, who has been teaching Pilates for almost 20 years and opened her first studio in 1996, says Pilates is one of the most adaptable forms of exercise.

“We have exercises for people through every decade of their life or their condition, whether they’re triathletes prepping for an event or people recovering from injury or postpartum,” she says. “It’s a very malleable means of training. You can make it as hard or as easy as you wish.”

Ungaro says that the classic Pilates mat routine is known for being effective in changing one’s body. But many people find the complex choreography and multiple position changes too difficult to keep up with, she says. So she suggests trying Pilates as a circuit.

“By using just a handful of key moves and reducing them to their most intense positions, Pilates can be both simple and effective.”

This six-minute circuit can be repeated three times for a thoroughly challenging 20-minute routine, she says. Take a 30-second rest between each full set.