SARASOTA – Bare feet on a cool floor. It’s a refreshing feeling after a long day at work. No shoes are required for Pilates, otherwise known as the art of controlled movements.

“It’s deep breathing, core, the belly’s drawn in which also protects the low back so it’s a lot of lower abdominal work with the leg lifts and stuff but it’s real concentrated core work.”

The main focus is breathing.

“The moves should go along with the breath. The breaths should actually move your body.”

You could almost call it yoga. There’s just a slight difference. With yoga, you inhale and exhale through the nose. With Pilates, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth.

“You need oxygen to your muscles so you have to keep inhaling and exhaling, deep inhales, long exhales so you release toxins from your body and it’s easier to perform the movements.”

Don’t worry about getting the movements right at first. It’s all about the proper breathing techniques. With the right breathing and movements combined, Pilates helps develop a strong core, strong back, flexibility, and increases your body’s endurance.

“Each exercise you only preform 10 reps of each exercise if you’re doing it correctly. That should be all you’re able to do.”

One of the best things about Pilates, the movements strengthens several muscles groups at once. You can completely retrain the way you move.

Frieta Conover is a 12-year Crunch member. She says after her Pilates class, she always feels accomplished.

“A lot more stronger, more balance, more flexible yes. Anybody can do it. Sometimes somebody does it a little faster, some a little slower, but everybody can do it.”

It’s one of the safest types of exercises. After all, it’s your breathing you have to worry about the most. Group instructor Karen Hoverson says to remember just one thing… never hold your breath.