Dallas, Texas-native Alice Holland fell in love with Pilates in 2008 after looking to rehab a knee injury. Fast-forward to present day, and she's now one of the instructors at the popular New York Pilates SOHO studio.

"For me, Pilates is my church, a spiritual journey and community, I can’t live without. Movement has always felt natural to my growth. It influenced me as a contemporary dancer, and continues to as a Pilates instructor," shares Holland. "It’s also very rewarding to help my students reach their fitness goals. Pilates was created in the 20th century by a man named Joseph Pilates and was used as a form of rehabilitation where specific exercises were used to accommodate a wide range of injuries, while also improving strength and flexibility within the body."

According to the certified instructor and dancer, there are seven variations of the slow-moving, muscle-firing workout. But, the most popular are the classic and contemporary versions often found in studios today. As for getting your Pilates journey started, Holland says that comfortable clothing as well as building your strength are key to getting the most out of the exercises.

"I personally like to wear something fitted, such as leggings and a sports bra. Pilates relies heavily on a strong core, so when you have a strong core foundation, you also improve your posture, balance and overall body stability and flexibility. The exercises emphasize controlled stretching and lengthening of the muscles, which increases mobility in the body," explains the New York Pilates instructor. "Plus, the controlled breathing and mindful movements of Pilates can also help reduce stress in the body and mind. It’s also important to be consistent. Like any form of exercise, consistency is key, so I would recommend practicing Pilates a couple of times a week to see the best results."

EBONY asked Holland to share an easy-to-follow routine that anyone can use before a Pilates class or even just on an average day at home to provide calm. Check it out below.

5-10 minute mind relaxing routine

  • Deep breathing: Begin by sitting or standing tall and taking a few deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Focus on filling the lungs completely and exhaling fully.
  • Shoulder rolls: Roll the shoulders forward and back, taking care to keep them relaxed and away from the ears.
  • Neck stretches: Gently tilt the head to one side, bringing the ear toward the shoulder, and hold for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • Cat-cow stretch: Come down to hands and knees and alternate between arching the back upward (like a cat) and rounding it downward (like a cow), moving slowly and with control.