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What is Pilates? Strengthen Posture & Build Core Strength

Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates, is a low-impact workout beneficial to all ages, improving flexibility, strength, postural alignment, and balance.

23 min readSeptember 12th, 2023
SLWritten By Sara Lindberg
AWEdited By Ashley Walton

At its core, Pilates classes stress the mind-body connection while targeting the deep stabilizing muscles of the body, including the abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles.

And the best part? Whether you're a seasoned fitness pro or a total beginner, Pilates can help you achieve your goals in a safe and effective way.

What Is Pilates?

The Pilates method was introduced in the late 1920s by Joseph Pilates as a system of corrective exercises. It gained traction in the late 1930s to 1950s as a way to rehab dancer’s injuries, but it wasn't until the 1990s that Pilates gained traction with the mainstream fitness communities as an effective low-impact workout for the masses.

Joseph Pilates passed away in 1967, leaving the method to his students who continue to refine and teach it to dancers, athletes, rehabilitation facilities, fitness fanatics, beginning exercisers, older adults, and anyone eager to integrate the mind and body to develop greater self-awareness, better physical health, and mental well-being.

This form of movement improves overall strength and posture alignment by combining core work, torso stability, flexibility, and strength training into one workout. Pilates exercises are typically performed on a mat or with specialized equipment, such as the Pilates reformer.

Specific workouts help develop core strength, increase flexibility, improve posture, boost your energy, and increase the mind-body connection. Plus, classes are adaptable to many fitness levels and needs.

How Pilates Exercises Are Performed

Pilates exercises are clearly-defined moves that require specific cueing and technique. All exercises are broken down step-by-step to help participants internalize the correct movement pattern.

Instructors talk you through the moves while making adjustments to your form and posture.

Because Pilates exercises can be modified to accommodate different fitness levels, injuries, or physical limitations, you should always listen to your body and adjust the movements as needed.

Here are some general tips on how many mat Pilates exercises are performed.

Get in a comfortable position

Most Pilates exercises begin on the floor while lying down on your back or sitting up straight. Pilates emphasizes a neutral spine position, meaning the natural curves of the spine are maintained.

Engage the core

Pilates exercises focus on engaging the core muscles, which include the deep abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles, and muscles around the spine. You may hear the instructor cue “belly button to spine” when asking you to recruit your core muscles. To do this, draw your navel towards your spine and lift the pelvic floor muscles.

Move slowly and with control

Pilates exercises are performed slowly and with control, emphasizing quality of movement over quantity. The movements should be smooth and fluid, with no jerky or abrupt movements.

Breathe deeply

Breathing is a key principle in Pilates. Your instructor will cue you to inhale deeply through the nose, filling the lungs, and exhale slowly through the mouth, emptying the lungs completely.

Use proper form

Proper form and alignment are crucial in Pilates to avoid injury and maximize the benefits of the exercises. This includes keeping the shoulders down and relaxed, engaging the core, spine positioning, and avoiding straining or overworking any muscles.

While not an exhaustive list, here are some classic and foundational movements you’ll learn during a mat Pilates class.

  • The Hundred
  • Roll-Up
  • Roll-Over
  • Single-Leg Circles
  • Rolling Like a Ball
  • Toe Taps
  • Single-Leg Stretch
  • Double-Leg Stretch
  • Spine Stretch Forward
  • Open-Leg Rocker
  • Saw
  • Swan
  • Single-Leg Kicks
  • Double-Leg Kicks
  • Neck Pull
  • Shoulder Bridge
  • Jack Knife
  • The Teaser
  • Side Kicks
  • Hip Twist
  • Seal
  • Rocking

You can perform many of these moves on specialized Pilates equipment like the reformer, Wunda chair, magic circle, Cadillac, and spine corrector. Each piece of equipment has additional exercises and features beyond what you can do during a mat class.

They also require different set-up and instructions than mat-based exercises, so it’s a good idea to work with a Pilates instructor while learning how to use different props and equipment.

How Is Pilates Different From Other Types of Exercise?

If you’re new to Pilates, you might wonder what sets it apart from other forms of exercise like cardio, resistance training, or yoga. While it shares some features with various workout methods, there are some key differences that make a Pilates workout unique.

Pilates exercises focus on improving core strength, balance, posture, and flexibility all within a single workout. This emphasis on core strength is one of the main features that makes Pilates different from other activities like aerobic exercise or lifting weights.

Because Pilates is designed to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, hips, and buttocks, it may help improve posture, balance, and stability. It also relies heavily on a mind-body connection, concentration, and focus to master the moves, making the focus more about the quality of movement rather than repetitions.

Unlike some workouts that can be hard on the joints, Pilates is a low-impact exercise that is gentle on the body. This makes it a great option for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Plus, Pilates exercises can be done on a mat with minimal props or with specialized equipment such as the reformer, Cadillac, or Wunda Chair. These pieces of equipment can provide resistance and support to help increase the effectiveness of the exercises.

Some Pilates studios structure workouts around a program or sequence, requiring participants to start on a specific day and continue for 10 to 12 weeks.

This allows instructors to begin with basic movements and core principles while teaching cues, body positioning, and correct technique. As the program progresses, the exercises become more advanced. Studios with this format often have three or more levels for mat-based classes.

If you take a stand-alone class that does not require the completion of a previous level, you’ll need to jump in and adapt to the instructor’s pace.

This approach works for some people, but not all. That’s why it’s a good idea to find a studio or online program that takes you through a series of classes starting with beginning moves and advancing as you master the Pilates exercises.

Pilates vs Strength Training

Deciding between Pilates and strength training can be a difficult choice, especially since both activities provide fantastic benefits to your body. The good news is there is room in your workout routine for both! Check out our table to see how Pilates compares to strength training.

Pilates vs Strength TrainingPilatesStrength Training 
FocusCore strength, flexibility, balance, and body awareness,controlled movements, proper alignment, and breath control Muscular endurance, growth, strength, power 
BenefitsPosture, flexibility, core strength, balance, stability, reduces pain, weight lossMuscle mass, strength, and power, bone health, weight loss
Experience LevelAllAll
IntensityLow to moderate intensity Moderate to high intensity 
ImpactLow impactMedium to high impact
Muscle Engagement  Deep core muscles and other muscle groupsSpecific muscle groups based on exercise selection
Flexibility Promotes flexibility and mobility through a focus on stretching and lengthening musclesImprovement specific to exercise selection and range of motion
Duration15-60 minutes30-60 minutes
Equipment Mat, resistance bands, ball, ring, dumbbells Resistance machines, free weights, kettlebells, weight benches 

Quick Tip: If you’re looking to improve posture, flexibility, and core strength, Pilates is a good choice. But if your primary goal is to build muscle mass and strength, resistance training is a better option.

Pilates vs Cardio

Pilates and cardio are an excellent combination to include in an overall workout program. While you may need two separate sessions to reap the maximum benefits of each exercise type, it’s easy to sneak both activities into your week. Check out our table to see how Pilates compares to cardio.

Pilates vs CardioPilatesCardio 
FocusCore strength, flexibility, balance, body awareness, controlled movements, proper alignment, and breath control  Increasing heart rate and cardiovascular endurance
BenefitsPosture, flexibility, core strength, balance, reduces pain Improving heart and lung health, increasing stamina, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases 
Experience levelAllAll
IntensityLow to moderate intensityLow to high intensity 
ImpactLow impactLow to high impact
Muscle EngagementDeep core muscles and other muscle groupsMay not target deep core muscles as intensely as Pilates
Flexibility Flexibility and mobility through a focus on stretching and lengthening musclesMinimal improvement; primary focus is on endurance and heart health, not flexibility
Duration15-60 minutes; effective for shorter workouts 20 to 60+ minutes; often requires longer sessions for maximum benefits
Equipment Mat, resistance bands, ball, ring, dumbbells Minimal equipment, but may need cardio machines, bicycle, pool; no equipment for activities like running and walking 

Quick Tip: Pilates is a low-impact exercise that focuses on core strength, isometric movements, flexibility, balance, and posture, while cardio workouts are high-intensity exercises that aim to improve cardiovascular health and burn calories.

Who Can Do Pilates?

Almost anyone can do Pilates. This versatile form of exercise is low-impact, suitable for all experience levels, requires minimal equipment, and is easily adaptable to accommodate different levels of fitness, strength, and flexibility.

Pilates is also beneficial if you’re recovering from injuries since it’s easy to modify the exercises to accommodate limitations and reduce the risk of further injury while improving strength, flexibility, and balance.

Beginners can benefit from the foundational moves and modifications provided by instructors while gradually building up strength, flexibility, and endurance.

And, if you’re a Pilates pro, performing advanced mat exercises and incorporating specialized equipment such as the reformer or Cadillac adds resistance and challenge to your workouts.

What Are the Benefits of Pilates?

The physical benefits of Pilates are one of the main reasons people flock to this workout method. It’s also why so many participants become faithful followers after a few sessions.

Pilates is a foundational practice that can improve flexibility, strength, balance, and posture through a series of controlled movements. But it’s not just the physical perks that make this workout so popular, it’s also improved mental and emotional well-being that many people experience when practicing Pilates on a regular basis.

Improved Core Strength and Reduced Low Back Pain

Pilates exercises target the core muscles, including the abdominals, back, and pelvic floor, which can lead to improved core strength and stability in both a therapeutic and preventative approach. In fact, people who participate in a Pilates program experience significant improvement in low back pain, flexibility, resistance, and strength of the trunk muscles.

Better Posture

Pilates emphasizes proper alignment and posture, which is something most of us need due to increased use of electronic screens. Specifically, Pilates training results in whole-body muscle retraining, which strengthens the deep neck muscles to improve the craniovertebral angle and reduce neck pain.

Improving functional Movement

Beyond body-specific benefits, Pilates is also great for improving functional movement and individual health levels, likely due to the incorporation of dynamic movements requiring balance, stability, and mobility together, according to a 2019 study. Pilates exercises are also low-impact and gentle on the joints, which may reduce the risk of injury and make it a safe form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Rehabilitation for Injuries and Chronic Health Conditions

In addition to Pilates studios and gym-based classes, this corrective exercise technique is also an excellent rehabilitation tool for adults. Data from a 2018 systematic review found that Pilates improves outcomes including pain and disability in the rehabilitation of low back pain, multiple sclerosis, postmenopausal osteoporosis, anyklosing spondylitis, hypertension, chronic neck pain, and non-structural scoliosis,

Improved Mood

Like other forms of exercise, Pilates may help reduce stress by encouraging relaxation and alleviating tension in the body. It may also improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while increasing energy.

Increased Mindfulness

Becoming more mindful is a mental perk of Pilates. Because the exercises require concentration, precision, and coordination with the breath, it’s critical that you stay present in the moment to execute the moves correctly. This enhanced awareness of the mind-body connection may allow you to cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness in your daily life and become more present in the moment and more aware of their physical and mental state.

Better Quality of Life

If you’re practicing Pilates in a group setting, the increased social connection can provide a sense of community, which may improve your quality of life.

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What Equipment Do You Need for Pilates?

Getting started with Pilates is relatively simple and affordable. For a Pilates mat class, all you need is an exercise mat and floor space.

Some Pilates classes also use exercise bands, a Pilates ring, large and small exercise balls, light dumbbells, and other props to increase the intensity and add variety to the workout.

Beyond the basics, the Pilates method also uses more advanced equipment, also called an apparatus, to enhance the workout experience. There are 12 original pieces of Pilates equipment, including the reformer, Cadillac (trapeze table), pedi-pull, Wunda Chair, electric or high chair, magic circle, ladder barrel, small barrel, baby chair, mat, spine corrector, toe corrector, and breath-a-cizer.

Larger equipment like the reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, and ladder barrel are most commonly found in studios because they require more intensive training and are costly to purchase.

Smaller equipment, such as the magic circle, mat, and therapy balls are more practical and affordable for at-home Pilates workouts.

To dive into the benefits of Pilates in more detail, read our article Top Pilates Benefits.

Best Equipment for Pilates

Pilates is a great way to improve your flexibility, strength, and overall fitness. If you're looking to get started with this low-impact exercise, you'll need some equipment to help you get the most out of your workouts. Here are some of the best Pilates equipment options to consider.

Exercise Mat

A cushioned yoga or exercise mat is a must-have for floor work in Pilates, especially if you’re taking a true mat class.

Exercise Ball

A stability ball allows you to increase the challenge of performing exercises like crunches, hamstring curls, glute raises, squats, push-ups, and planks. Choose the ball based on your height. Some Pilates mat classes also incorporate small therapy balls for isometric movements.


Light dumbbells are an easy way to incorporate weight into your Pilates routine for floor and standing exercises.

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are a versatile and cost-effective tool you can use in many Pilates workouts. They provide resistance for both upper and lower body exercises, plus, you can incorporate them into floor and standing exercises. Resistance bands are color-coded based on resistance.

Pilates Ring

A Pilates ring is a small, circular piece of equipment that adds resistance for standing and floor exercises and to challenge your core stability.

Specialized Pilates Equipment

Larger, more expensive Piliates equipment like the reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, and ladder barrel are most commonly found in studios because they require more intensive training and are costly to purchase.

Quick Tip: If you're new to Pilates, it’s a good idea to start with a mat Pilates class before investing in more specialized equipment. And, if you’re close to a Pilates studio, consider taking an in-person class or intro to mat series. That way you’ll know if you like Pilates and want to buy equipment for home use. You can also ask the instructor for guidance on which equipment is best for your needs.

What Are the Key Principles of Pilates?

Pilates classes offer low-impact workouts and specific exercise instruction that incorporate the use of the six Pilates principles, which includes breath, concentration, centering, control, precision, and flow.

These six principles were born from Joseph Pilates original work, which he called “Contrology”—a body, mind, and spirit approach to movement that integrates the six principles.

6 Key Principles of Pilates

The six key principles of Pilates are considered the foundation of the Pilates method. By incorporating these principles into a regular practice, you can achieve a more balanced and integrated approach to fitness and overall well-being.

While the presentation and terminology may vary slightly from studio to studio, these six principles form the basis of many Pilates approaches. The principles allow participants to fuse the mind and body to achieve optimal balance, strength, and health, according to the journal Sports Health.


Coordinating the breath with each exercise is an integral part of the Pilates method. In fact, Joseph Pilates believed the breath was the most important part of the method.

During a Pilates class, you’ll practice full and rhythmic breathing, with an emphasis on forced exhalation or “wringing out the lungs,” to achieve full inhalation.


Focusing the mind allows you to perform each Pilates movement with proper form and alignment. When the mind guides the body, you’ll be able to bring awareness to your movements in the present moment.


Your center is the powerhouse or core of the body where energy begins. Centering allows you to take this energy and radiate it out to the rest of the body. It also provides the foundation for all movement and supports the spine.


From concentration, you get control. Being in control of each exercise requires the mind and body to work together to produce deliberate movement. Mastering this principle ensures you avoid going through the motions during a Pilates workout.


Being able to perform each movement with precision and attention to detail sets Pilates apart from many other forms of exercise. This principle is evident in classes where instructors emphasize mastering proper technique and correct movement patterns before moving on to more difficult exercises.


Also referred to as fluidity, flow allows you to move with graceful succession and a minimum of motion from one exercise to the next. It is smooth and continuous and incorporates precise timing and muscle activation. Flow helps improve balance, flexibility, and coordination.

What Should I Expect During a Pilates Class?

While each Pilates instructor and workout may offer something unique, in general, most Pilates classes are a mix of flexibility, total body strength and toning, and core work. Classes are generally 10 to 45 minutes in length, including a warm-up and cool-down.

Throughout the class, your instructor will emphasize proper form and alignment to help prevent injury and maximize the benefits of each exercise. According to the American Council on Exercise, the focus is on quality, not quantity, of movement. And, you do fewer repetitions than in a strength training class.

Intro Pilates mat classes and series programs are appropriate for all fitness levels.

Plus, you don’t need to be familiar with the method to start. Core principles and Pilates moves you can expect to learn during an intro program include Rolling Like a Ball, Swan, Swimming, Single-Leg Circle, Double Leg Stretch, and Hundred.

Once you’ve mastered the introductory moves, you’ll be ready for intermediate and advanced workouts that introduce new exercises, incorporate props, combine mat-based exercises with Barre, and add cardio intervals.

You’ll want to wear comfortable, form-fitting clothing like leggings or shorts and a t-shirt, tank top, or sports bra. Most people will go barefoot or wear socks. Cushioned exercise mats are generally all you need for equipment, but this is often provided by the studio or fitness facility.

Is It Necessary to Take Classes or Can I Do Pilates at Home?

Whether you’re new to exercise or never taken a Pilates class before, it’s a good idea to start with an introduction to mat class series, regardless of your fitness level or where you plan on working out.

This allows you to learn the basic principles and cues the instructor will use at higher levels. It also sets the foundation for more complicated moves and may help reduce your risk of injury.

Pros and Cons of Taking Classes vs Doing Pilates at Home

Beyond an intro series, how and where you take classes is entirely up to you. That being said, we recommend in-person classes if possible, especially when starting out. Participating in a studio-based Pilates class gives you one-on-one contact with the instructor, which is helpful if you need posture adjustments or modifications.

It also provides a supportive environment and creates structure and routine to help you stay on track. Plus, taking a class at a gym or Pilates studio means you have access to equipment and specialized Pilates props that can be costly when purchasing for a home workout space.

While the perks of in-person outweigh the cons, there are some factors to consider before signing up for a studio-based class. For starters, weekly classes can be expensive, with some facilities requiring a six to 12-week series or program for beginners instead of individual or drop-in fees. If you have a tight schedule or limited time, you may find it more challenging to squeeze in a class, especially if you have to sign-up ahead of time. And that’s where at-home classes might be a better fit.

In addition to being more affordable, doing Pilates at home gives you more flexibility with your schedule. It also allows for privacy, which may help some people feel more comfortable getting started.

Importance of Working with a Qualified Instructor

Pilates is considered a low-impact activity appropriate for most fitness levels. But it can also be challenging and potentially dangerous if not practiced correctly. That’s why working with a qualified Pilates instructor is essential to ensure that you receive safe and effective instruction.

At a minimum, look for a Pilates instructor certified by a reputable Pilates organization, such as STOTT, Power Pilates, Balanced Body, or Basi Pilates.

If you’re pregnant, recovering from an injury, or have a chronic health condition, ask if the instructor has additional training hours or continuing education in that area, so they can modify exercises to accommodate any physical limitations you may have.​​his also allows them to personalize your Pilates routine to meet your specific needs and goals and monitor progress by gradually increasing the difficulty of exercises as you get stronger and more flexible.

Tips for Setting up a Home Pilates Workout Space

If working out at home works better for your schedule, then consider following an online Pilates program led by a certified instructor. You can start with a free class on YouTube or subscribe to a fitness app that offers Pilates workouts. Some fitness platforms offer a free version, while others require a monthly fee ranging from $12.99 to $29.99.

Setting up your home Pilates workout space is fairly easy and requires minimal equipment. If doing mat classes, you’ll need enough room for standing and supine (lying down) exercises with your arms overhead and out to the sides.

Most people use an exercise mat for floor exercises, which are generally six feet long by two feet wide. If streaming classes on a phone or tablet, consider propping the device on a small table in front of you, with plenty of room to perform the exercises without hitting the table.

Beyond an exercise mat, some people choose to purchase other props such as balls, bands, dumbbells, or a Pilates ring to supplement a workout. Most mat-based Pilates equipment requires minimal space for storage and use.

That said, if you plan on investing in a reformer, you’ll need a significantly larger workout space to accommodate the machine. On average, most Pilates reformers range in size from about two feet wide by six feet long to three feet wide by eight feet long. A small bedroom or office is an ideal space to store a reformer.

Best Gyms for Pilates

Whether you’re a promising Pilates pro or just getting started with this mind-body workout, finding a gym that offers excellent instruction, a welcoming atmosphere, and classes that fit your schedule and goals is essential to your Pilates practice. Here are some top studios and Pilates gyms to consider when looking for the right fit.

Club Pilates

Club Pilates is a popular franchise with locations across the globe. They offer a range of Signature Pilates classes including:

  • Intro Class: Free 30-minute intro to Pilates class appropriate for all levels.
  • Reformer Flow: Signature contemporary Reformer class combined with classical Pilates.
  • Cardio Sculpt: High energy, low-impact class that combines cardio with basic Pilates.
  • Center + Balance: Light movement and deep stretching routine using apparatus-assisted stretching.
  • Control: Pilates principles applied to legs and glutes using the Reformer, fitness ball, gliding discs, and more.
  • Restore: Foam rolling and self-myofascial release class.
  • Suspend: Pilates and TRX suspension trainer blended class to promote strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance.
  • F.I.T: Interval training combined with Pilates-strength based training.
  • Teen: Cross training for young athletes ages 14-19.

Pure Barre

While primarily known for barre workouts, many Pure Barre studios also offer Pilates classes. They focus on blending elements of ballet, Pilates, and yoga for a full-body workout.

Pure Barre logo

Pure Barre

Best for Barre + Pilates

Pure Barre is a fitness studio that offers a low-impact, high-intensity workout that focuses on sculpting the body through a series of isometric movements, emphasizing a specialized and low-impact workout.

  • Beginners welcome

  • On-demand classes

  • Locally owned

Local Boutique Studios

In addition to chain gyms and studios, many local boutique fitness studios offer exceptional Pilates classes. These studios often provide a more personalized experience. There are several ways to search for a Pilates studio near you, including ClassPass, Stott Pilates Instructor Finder, and Mindbody.

Online Platforms

With the rise of online fitness platforms, you can also access high-quality Pilates classes from the comfort of your home. Websites and apps like Pilates Anytime, Alo Moves (see our review), Daily Burn, Peloton, Glo, Pilatesology, offer a wide range of Pilates classes led by experienced instructors.

Nationwide Gyms

In addition to the Pilates studios and online platforms listed above, you can also find a variety of Pilates workouts in large gym chains like Crunch Fitness, Equinox, Life Time Fitness, LA Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness, and the YMCA.

How Often Should I Do Pilates to See Results?

Like other forms of exercise, consistency is key when it comes to seeing results from Pilates. Committing to a regular schedule and making it a part of your fitness routine is critical for long-term success. That said, you also need to factor in your goals, current fitness level, and lifestyle needs such as time and availability.

In general, practicing Pilates two to three times a week for 30-60 minutes per session can be an effective way to build strength and endurance while allowing enough time for proper warm-up and cool-down.

As you progress, it’s important to vary your Pilates routine and challenge yourself with different exercises and equipment to continue making progress and avoid plateaus.

And don’t forget about other fitness components such as cardiovascular exercise and resistance training. Pilates is just one piece of the fitness puzzle.

If possible, aim for a holistic approach that combines several workout types targeting muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and aerobic fitness.

If you’re unsure about how often to do Pilates or how to incorporate it into an overall workout program, consider consulting with a certified Pilates instructor. They can help you determine the right approach to reach your goals and make the most of your Pilates practice.

A Word from Ashley

I'm Ashley Walton, Cofounder and Chief Content Officer at GymBird, and I wanted to chime in with my two cents on Pilates.

Pilates used to really intimidate me. It can really work your core, and if you're not regularly working out your core, it can be tough to perform Pilates movements at first. But the benefits are worth it.

After years of practice, I now incorporate Pilates exercises into my weekly and daily workout routines, including moves like leg circles, roll-ups, plank pikes, hip dips, bird dogs, and bridges. (It just so happens that bridges are my favorite, and they're a foundational Pilates move!)

One of the long-term, personal goals I have with my fitness routine is continually working to strengthen my core and glutes to help alleviate my chronic back pain. I can say without a doubt that Pilates has absolutely helped me strengthen muscles that have helped me manage my chronic back pain, so I'm a huge supporter of Pilates.

If you're just starting out with Pilates, try not to get intimidated, like I was as a beginner. Some of the moves may work muscles you haven't focused on before, so it's normal if you can't hold movements for very long or if you can't do many reps.

You're also allowed to take breaks and hydrate between moves. Go at your own pace! I recommend sticking to Pilates, even when it's hard, because you'll build serious strength over time that will benefit you for years to come if you keep it up.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to improve overall fitness, enhance sports performance, or recover from an injury, Pilates is an excellent practice to incorporate into an overall routine.

Pilates workouts focus on whole-body fitness, which can improve movement, strength, and control. It’s suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels and can be adapted to accommodate different levels of intensity and difficulty. You can do a Pilates workout at home, the gym, or a specialized Pilates studio.

Before getting started with a Pilates workout, make sure to consult with your doctor or another healthcare professional, especially if you have a chronic medical condition or injury.

And, if you’re new to the method, have any questions about how to perform the moves, or dealing with an injury, consider working with a certified Pilates instructor. They can help ensure that you’re performing the exercises correctly and safely.

Here are some online directories that can help you locate a qualified Pilates instructor or studio in your area:

If you’re wanting to try a Pilates fitness app, here are some highly-rated platforms to try:


Is Pilates Hard for beginners?

Pilates can be challenging for beginners, but the good news is with practice and patience, it can become easier. Plus, since it’s a low-impact exercise, it can be modified for different levels. Just remember to start with introductory or foundational classes that teach the basic techniques and lingo, and don’t push yourself too hard. If you experience any discomfort or pain, stop what you’re doing and let the instructor know. They can analyze your form and make adjustments to help alleviate the discomfort or modify the move to make it easier.

Is Pilates Different from Yoga?

Pilates and yoga are often seen as interchangeable, especially since they both share similarities in terms of the mind-body connection and breathing techniques, but the two practices have different focuses that make each workout unique.

Pilates is focused on strengthening the core muscles, posture alignment, torso stability, and promoting overall physical strength and balance while yoga emphasizes breath work, mindfulness, and spiritual growth.

Yoga features a combination of physical postures or asanas that are held for a specified time, while Pilates focuses on repetition of certain exercises.

Additionally, Pilates classes may incorporate specialized equipment such as the reformer or Cadillac, while yoga can be practiced with just a mat and a few props.

What Type of Workout Is Pilates?

Pilates is considered a low-impact workout that focuses on building strength and flexibility through a series of controlled movements. The exercises are typically performed in a slow and controlled manner, with an emphasis on proper form, alignment, and breathing.

While Pilates focuses on strengthening the deep core muscles, the exercises also target other muscles throughout the body.

Pilates workouts consist of mat-based classes and routines incorporating specialized Pilates equipment, which provide resistance and support for the body, allowing for a greater range of motion and deeper engagement of the muscles.

How long is a Pilates class?

Pilates classes generally last 60 minutes or less, with most averaging 45 to 60 minutes. Some studios offer express workouts focusing on shorter routines during peak times like morning and after work. Online platforms typically have a wider range of class lengths, ranging from 10 minutes to 75+ minutes.

Are there any risks of doing Pilates while pregnant?

Pilates is considered a safe activity for most pregnant people. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends continuing or starting a regular physical activity program as long as you're healthy and your pregnancy is normal, with clearance from your doctor. Several studios and online platforms offer prenatal Pilates classes that are divided by trimester with workouts designed to meet the unique needs of your body throughout your pregnancy.

Modified Pilates is one of the safer exercises for pregnant women, according to the ACOG. Prenatal Pilates classes teach modified poses to accommodate your shifting balance as your body grows. They also avoid poses that require you to lie on your back for long periods.

Can Pilates be done without any equipment?

Absolutely! One of the reasons Pilates is so popular is its versatility. You can do most, if not all of the mat work exercises without any equipment. Some classes incorporate small equipment like the Pilates ball, Pilates circle, resistance bands, stability balls, or dumbbells to add resistance to the moves, but it is not necessarily required.

Larger, specialized Pilates equipment like the reformer, Cadillac, and barrel can enhance the practice and provide resistance, but many people find that mat Pilates offers a highly effective and accessible way to improve core strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning.

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