What is Pilates?
Pilates is a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates. In Pilates, the mind is used to control the muscles. Pilates attempts to create a fusion of mind and body, allowing the body to move with grace, balance and economy.

Traditional Pilates is performed on a machine known as the reformer, which provides exercise resistance to build strength, develop proper alignment and posture, and increase flexibility. Today, people practice mat Pilates, which does not require a reformer.

Why do it?
Pilates works to strengthen the deep torso muscles and teaches awareness of breath and body, alignment of the spine, good posture, graceful movement, flexibility and agility. It transforms the way your body looks, feels and performs, building strength without excess bulk and creating a sleek, toned body with slender thighs and a flat abdomen.

In recent years the term “Pilates” worked itself into the mainstream and may be used generically and without restriction. The outcome was untrained or under-qualified teachers advertising quasi Pilates instruction. To be safe, make sure your instructor is certified. Sources: Pilates.com and Wikipedia.

1. John Garey, Stott Pilates
Long Beach, CA
Stott Pilates incorporates modern exercise principles, including contemporary knowledge of spinal rehabilitation and improved athletic performance to improve core strength and balance the muscles around the joints. The Stott method specifically targets breathing, pelvic placement, rib cage placement, scapular movement and head and cervical spine placement.

2. Tandy Gutierrez, Equinox Fitness
Los Angeles
Tandy teaches athletic, barre and beach Pilates as well as Balanced Body Blast. Her philosophy is to mix it up and to have fun; fitness can be serious, but it doesn’t have to lack humor.

3. Brooke Seller, Re:AB Pilates
New York City
Dedicated to the authentic teachings of Joseph Pilates. Re:AB’s award-winning group classes are small to allow for individual attention from the instructor.

4. Ana Caban, In & Up Pilates
Los Angeles
In the past decade, Ana has owned Pilates studios in both Miami and Los Angeles. She recently moved back to Los Angeles and now teaches at In & Up Pilates in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. Ana also has a popular collection of Pilates videos in English and Spanish.

5. Dorothee VandeWalle, Metropolitan Pilates
Recognized worldwide as a master Pilates practitioner, Dorothee founded Metropolitan Pilates to teach the classical Pilates method using equipment built from Joseph Pilates’ original design specifications and mechanics.

6. Shari Bercowitz, The Vertical Workshop
Los Angeles
Shari teaches classical Pilates training: Joseph Pilates’ original exercises, order and vocabulary. Students use the Mat, Reformer, Trapeze Table/Cadillac, High Chair, Wunda Chair, Barrels, Spine Corrector, Ped-o-pul and Magic Circle.

7. Carrie Macy, BACE LA
Los Angeles
BACE offers traditional Pilates as well as its BACE method, a combination of Pilates, cardio and yoga.

8. Any instructor, Studio Lotus
Instructors work with you to craft a personalized fitness program. Studio Lotus teaches a classical, systematic and integrative approach.

9. Any instructor, The Pilates Center
Boulder, CO
Known as “The Harvard for Pilates,” the Pilates Center teaches the genuine method and offers personalized instruction for beginners and advanced students as well as a rigorous teacher training program.

10. Rael Isacowitz, BASI Pilates, Instructor Training
Affiliate locations nationwide
More than 25 years of teaching experience has given Isacowitz the moniker teacher-of-teachers. The Body Arts and Science International Approach (BASI) incorporates yoga, dance, athletics and academic knowledge. The BASI certification is recognized as a contemporary approach to Joseph Pilates’ original method of exercise and strengthening. BASI-certified instructors teach at 53 locations in 15 different countries.

Author's Bio: 

Olivia Kuhn-Lloyd is the marketing director of Intent.com, an internet wellness community site founded by Deepak Chopra's daughter Mallika Chopra.