When you walk into a classical Pilates studio, you will hear the sounds of springs opening and closing, the sounds of students inhaling and exhaling, and the happy voices of instructors teaching. What you won’t hear is music!
What distinguishes the Pilates method from the rest of the world of fitness are six fundamental principles: control, center, concentration, precision, flow, and breath. Without these six, one may very well be doing exercise, but they aren’t doing Pilates. We’ll focus on concentration, precious, flow, and breath when discussing why there is no music in Pilates.
Concentration in one of the key Pilates principles. Other popular forms of workouts almost always have music playing, much to the detriment of what the student is there to do. Pilates is a workout, and when students get distracted from what they’re doing, the workout suffers. The student also must be able to hear what the teacher is saying, and must be able to concentrate on their cues.
There is an incredible body-mind connection in Pilates. Pilates is actually creating new ways to move and that requires neuromuscular pathways to form. Neuromuscular pathways are the communication channels between the brain and the muscles. Whenever a person wants to perform a certain movement, it is along these pathways that the brain informs the body what action is going to be required to accomplish the goal at hand. It’s hard to be aware of and focus on form when there is music playing, so that is why classical Pilates studios don’t have music.
The sounds of the springs opening and closing partnered with the breath gives the workout flow. The springs on Pilates apparatus have a sound all their own. In addition to feeling the springs open and close, one can hear the springs making noise as they move. Teachers will sometimes cue students on what they should or shouldn’t hear from the springs when they are moving. And sometimes, students will be instructed to “hold the springs open longer,” or “close them quicker.” The student can adjust the tempo of their workout simply by listening for the sounds the springs make. There is no music in Pilates because the sound of the music would drown out the sound of the springs.
Breathing is a big deal in Pilates. Every exercise in the method contains a breathing pattern designed for that particular movement. There is no music in Pilates, because if there were, the students wouldn’t be able to hear the pattern of their inhales and exhales. That breath pattern creates a rhythm the student uses to move through their workout.
There are many things that separate the Pilates method from other forms of movement, but having no music playing is one of them. Being focused on your workout is important to progress through the method, and to take your new movement and your better breathing out into life.