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What Is Pilates

What is pilates? This is such a common question — and an important one! Below, we’ve done our best to provide a succinct answer.

What is Pilates?

group performing pilates as physcial educationIt is a form of exercise that was developed in the 1920s by Joseph Pilates.

The method revolves around maximizing core strength with precise and controlled movements, while at the same time, matching breathing to your body work.

Of course, there are other central principles at play as well, such as:

  • Spinal articulation
  • Body Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Whole body activation
  • Mindfulness
  • Mind, body, and spirit connection

Is It The Best Cardio Workout?

Does it count as a cardio workout? You’ll find that many instructors disagree on this point, and a more telling question might be: what is cardio?

If the criteria for answering the question is whether it can get your heart rate up or not (like common cardio exercises), then the answer is yes. Pilates can definitely increase your heart rate, make you sweat, and even make you feel out of breath.

But if you're speaking about the traditional way the practice was developed, with reference to the typical categorizations of exercise: strengthening, flexibility training, and cardio,  then it would be considered a strengthening exercise, not cardio.

Note: you shouldn’t assume that this type of exercise won’t wear you out! It can certainly be challenging, and it’s also generally more of an intense workout than yoga.

In some places, you may be able to find special hybrid pilates classes, which incorporate cardio moves with the exercise.

what is pilates video

The Benefits

Take a look at these amazing benefits of doing this exercise:

  •         A stronger core
  •         Leaner muscles
  •         Improved posture and balance
  •         Improved flexibility
  •         Greater stamina
  •         Burned calories
  •         Injury prevention
  •         Deeper, more mindful breathing
  •         A better mind-body connection

Burn Calories with Pilates

Check out some pilates before and after photos online. You’ll immediately notice that pilates can certainly reduce excess fat. You can see results in the waist, upper arms and thighs, and streamline a person’s contours overall.

This is not done through strength training alone, of course. Even though It is not considered a traditional cardio workout, it definitely burns calories.

If you’re interested in losing weight with pilates, the practice can help by creating a larger daily calories deficit. A deficit means consumed calories per day minus burned calories per day.

A general way of achieving weight loss is to create a safe and healthy calorie deficit each day. Ideally, when a deficit of 3,500 calories in total per week is achieved (so around 500 calories per day), you’ll lose one pound (with consideration to the metabolic factor of the individual as well).


Pilates: Frequently Asked Questions


What type of workout can I expect from pilates?

It provides an excellent balanced body workout. While you are generally stationary during a pilates workout, your heart rate can still go up, and you will likely sweat.

The greatest effect of pilates is the conditioning of all muscle groups. It increases flexibility, provides better balance, and improves core strength.


Is pilates for everyone — young and old, beginner and pro?

Yes! There is pilates for seniors, for expecting mothers or those who have just given birth, athletes, teens, or beginners. Anyone who wants to try it for the very first time can and should do it. You’ll get fabulous training in core strength, balance, and flexibility, while also improving your mind body balance. Not sure if it is what you are looking for or if yoga would suit you better? Our blog post on pilates vs. yoga covers the aspects of both.


Can I lose weight doing pilates?

Yes, pilates can definitely help you lose weight. While most people use other cardio workouts such as swimming, running, or biking for weight loss, the workouts are actually the better option because they provide more toning and balanced fitness.

If you’re considering it for weight loss, we’d recommend investing in your own reformer. Merrithew makes a number of high-quality options, including STOTT reformers or any other type of equipment.


How often should I do pilates?

The more you do anything, the better you will become. Of course, this doesn't mean you need to be heading to the studio every day.

If you’ve been asking yourself, “where can I find a pilates studio near me?” and find yourself frustrated after coming up with nothing, you should think about going online for your exercise fix!

Using our digital platform to take your own in home pilates classes. This allows you to do it as much or as little as you want — whenever it's convenient for you.


Is pilates a good cardio workout?

It is not considered a traditional form of cardio like running, swimming, or biking. Instead, it focuses more on strengthening and toning. Still, for those looking for a great at-home cardio workout, it can definitely be incorporated. It is also an excellent tool to use if you are doing some injury treatment where you can do rehab on that injury. 


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