Why do Pilates? The short answer is to be healthy and happy. Ironically, it is in the doing/moving, not the thinking, that an answer to this question is revealed. Even though you are reading this and not in the studio I think I can show you what I mean. Try feeling the bones of your seat on the chair that you are on. Feel both feet on the floor so that you can gently press down. Pull your navel into your low back with out rounding it too much. Then, while gently pressing the feet into the floor, lengthen your waist up and then continue the lift through your rib cage and neck, so that your are lifting your ears to the ceiling. Try to relax all other muscles in shoulders and arms so that you can feel balanced as you sit. Try it again 3 to 8 times and then see if you don't experience an equivalency in the effort the mind makes with the effort the body makes.
When Romana was alive and teaching she would ask us to show her what our question would look like in movement because she didn't want us to think too much. Thinking or intellectualizing disturbs the balance between the mind and the body giving the mind too much importance. For Romana a movement on an apparatus, lying on the floor or standing is the best and only way to figure out why the body is doing something awkward or in a painful way. She would encourage us to have confidence in our bodies because we had the ability to move correctly. When it came to learning how to do Pilates the mind and the body were one with her and to separate them led us down the wrong path of understanding. For the mind to work, the body needs to move it's nutrient filled fluids through the brain, giving direction and clarity to the person.
For us Pilates practitioners, the principles of Pilates and the exercises in their purest (read simplest) forms mean, we have a chance to lower the risk of exhaustion and fatigue, and experience happiness and health when we workout.
So, what is the workout like? It's best to begin by defining what it is not. It's not a Personal Training session. It's not a Yoga class. It's not physical therapy. It's not like doing weights. It's not like doing cardio. It's not like martial arts. By doing Pilates exercises would only know the results after doing the work, not speculating or talking about it. The exercises Mr. Pilates used are the ones we use today and they are simple, elegant and essential for a healthy and happy person.