Fitness Articles

A Skeptic's Guide to Pilates

Think Pilates Isn't for You? Think Again!

As a fitness instructor, I get a lot of questions about Pilates, from what it is to how it benefits the body. I too was skeptical about how this "gentle" form of exercise—which, to me, looked a lot like lying on the floor—could boast such big benefits. I like a workout that's challenging and intense—heavy weights, high inclines, fast speeds. Those floor exercises are for beginners who are weak and unfit…or so I thought.

I decided to learn more about Pilates by taking a few instructor workshops and training in "the method" myself. What I discovered surprised me. Pilates, when done correctly, offers major fitness benefits, requires mental focus, connects the mind and body, and truly does sculpt the abs like nothing else I've ever tried. Starting as a skeptic, I became a believer, practitioner and instructor in a matter of months.

For all of you skeptics who think that Pilates has nothing to offer you, think again! Almost one hundred years since Joseph Pilates (1880-1967) created and refined the exercises of his namesake, more and more people continue to practice Pilates around the world. Research has shown that Pilates also improves:
  • Spinal mobility
  • Flexibility
  • Muscular endurance
  • Posture
  • Body awareness
  • Lower back pain
  • Bone density
  • One's ability to properly engage the transverse abdominals (the deepest core muscles) Continued ›
Page 1 of 3   Next Page ›

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

    I am presently doing springboard pilates. I enjoy it very much. Do you have any recommendations about form or information about this? - 11/16/2015 4:49:24 AM
    The world of Pilates is a whole new one for me as I discover its incredible benefits. Not only can it become your primary fitness regimen it complements other fitness workouts as well. I was introduced to the benefits of Pilates in an ebook The Benefits of Pilates www.pilatesbenefi - 8/25/2015 2:43:50 AM
    Thanks for the great post about the benefits of Pilates. I've always found it to be the best of both worlds...body resistance and yoga. You'll get in great shape without bulking up so it's an amazing workout for women and the added benefits are the icing on the cake! I've been using the 45 Day Pilates Melt Down, a combo of mat Pilates and cardio that you can do at home, and have seen some great results.The program is structured to include all fitness levels so it's definitely worth a look for anyone who's interested in exploring the benefits of Pilates in more detail. You can see the page here:
    Or get more info here:
    45+day+pilates - 8/23/2015 1:52:39 PM
    When Pilates became generic - maybe 10 years ago; we have articles like this one.
    Unless you have been taught by an instructor who has the pre-generic training, you will never understand Joseph Pilates true approach.

    This is the reason Pilates has lost any traction with the public. It has been altered to the point of he absurd. - 8/6/2014 12:46:12 PM
  • ALIZAHH try going on you tube and typing chair Pilates and see if you can find anything that might fit your needs. Even if you are not a senior yet you can type in chair Pilates for seniors also. They might have something that will not be as taxing on your elbow after surgery. - 8/4/2014 9:47:45 PM
  • I am after elbow replacement and can not put weight on my right hand which I do getting on to a mat and off...Is there such a thing as chair pilates and where would I find out about that? - 8/4/2014 4:12:20 AM
  • When I first started with Spark in 2010, I lived in Nashville,TN. I got hooked on Reformer Pilates. My body felt great. I need to find a studio in my new town! - 12/1/2013 1:44:48 AM
  • Liked this article....I do Pilates with a stretch band and can really see a difference! It has helped me in so many ways. If you have a difficult time try using a stretch band. It will keep you focused. I started with a DVD-SHAPE the Mari Winsor Pilates for Pink Workout. - 11/24/2013 11:03:59 AM
    i took the pilates class at bally's and it was not easy and the breathing is very important. i've since cancelled my membership but have a book of exercises that i use occasionally. This article is great and i learned a few things - 10/27/2013 2:42:10 AM
  • I've done Pilates on and off over the years and I just don't enjoy it. I definitely need to do it though because I am very week in my core area. I have recently started some Pilates workouts again and I really worry about correct form. - 5/16/2013 8:56:37 AM
    I haven't read this article yet, but printed it out to read later. With my ADHD, I just can't imagine being able to concentrate enough to get through a Pilates routine. I watched the Beginner Pilates video on Spark a few minutes ago and even though it started out looking like it would be good for me to calm me down abit, I finally had to end watching it because I was getting hyped up just watching how slow and focused you have to be! I hope the article convinces me to 'just do it'... I hear so many great things about Pilates! I have Leslie Sansone's PIlates walking DVD and I love it, but to lay down and go through it -- I don't know... - 4/5/2013 3:36:53 PM
  • Lord. There's no such thing as a workout for a "real man." You're not more manly because you pick things up and put them down.

    Pilates have benefits for *everyone* who tries them. It's not my favorite form of exercise (I vastly prefer yoga) but I can't deny the usefulness of it. You don't get man-points for being too "good" for this workout.

    - 8/22/2012 12:13:28 PM
  • Thursday was my eighth session of mat based (no reformer) Pilates. If it should take ten sessions to feel the difference, I must be way ahead. I've felt the difference since my fourth session. I have contact with muscles in my core I never thought about before and my posture is slowly improving.

    I wish I lived nearer a studio that does reformer work but I'm sticking with my mat class twice a week from now on. - 7/14/2012 1:56:07 PM
  • I guess I'm going to try pilates. I will also look into the Stott Pilates. Does anyone recommend a good dvd? - 7/14/2012 8:04:22 AM
    I've been doing Pilates Reformer for nearly 4 years now and matwork longer than that. I thoroughly enjoy doing it. But one word of advice. Make sure the pilates instructor is truly qualified. Then only you will get all the benefit. In pilates it's not the repetition but the control and quality you have in one movement. If you do it correctly, you don't need to do a lot... - 6/11/2012 4:06:57 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 6! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.