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Is Pilates a Good Exercise for Weight Loss?

Simone is a certified Pilates instructor who wants to help clients feel and look better.

Are you wondering whether or not Pilates is good for you? Do you want to know whether Pilates as an exercise will help you lose weight, give you flat abs, and make other significant differences in your day-to-day life? I can tell youI'm a professionaland an honest one.

You could say that Pilates is in my blood. I am a Pilates instructor. My mother is a Pilates instructor. I do Pilates at home, in gyms, and even on hotel room floors when I travel. I was certified by the ITT school in San Franciscoa program that takes itself seriously and doesn't certify people over shady, one-weekend seminars. I'm serious about what I do, and I'm serious about telling you the truth.

Does Pilates help you lose weight? Well... I do Pilates, and I'm not exactly a whale...

Does Pilates help you lose weight? Well... I do Pilates, and I'm not exactly a whale...

Can Pilates Help Me Lose Weight?

Short answer: Yes.

Medium answer: Yes, so long as it's a part of a larger diet and exercise regimen.

Long answer: If you ask a professional Pilates instructor this question, they will secretly want to vomit, cry, or tear out their hair. Asking a Pilates instructor if pilates will help you lose weight is like asking someone who designs luxury cars if the horns honk. Yeah, the horns honk, but wouldn't you like to know that the engine functions amazingly, that the interior is designed for amazing comfort, and that the safety features are state of the art and unparalleled in excellence?

Yes, if you must know, pilates can help you lose weight. Pilates helps build lean muscle mass, and having a higher proportion of lean muscle mass in your body means that you will have somewhat higher metabolism, so you'll be burning more calories even in a resting state. Doing Pilates exercises also requires calories and therefore burns them, another plus.

That said, pilates should not be your only move toward losing weight. Pilates, as an exercise, is only, as I like to think of it, "part of a complete breakfast."

Pilates exercises mostly involve strength and flexibility, with a little balance thrown in. A complete workout regimen must include strength, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular exercise. That means that you should also be doing something like walking, biking, running, jogging, swimming, or some other activity that gets your heart rate up. That's the big time calorie burner, and you're not going to lose a lot of weight if you leave that out. You're also not going to lose much weight if you neglect to eat well and in moderation.

But enough about thatbefore you slink off, having realized that only taking on pilates is not going to turn you into a ripped sexy god or goddess overnight, please let me share with you some of pilates' other great benefits.

But Pilates does so much more than contribute to weight loss! It helps with alignment and posture, for instance...

But Pilates does so much more than contribute to weight loss! It helps with alignment and posture, for instance...

What You Will Get From Pilates

In addition to helping you lose weight, Pilates does other things. And to be honest, those other things will make a bigger impact on your life than helping you lose weight. These things include:

  • A stronger core: This is perhaps the most touted benefit of Pilates. It bores me, and I'm sure you're already aware of it.
  • Development of lean muscle mass: Pilates helps you develop lean, strong muscles. If you want to bulk up, try something else, but if you're looking for a sleek, functional body, look no further!
  • Greater flexibility: Pilates is a great mixture of stretches and strengthening exercises. I used to not even be able to reach my knees I was so inflexible. Now I can easily touch my nose to my knees.
  • Better posture: Pilates does wonders for your posture. And good posture does more than just look goodit helps you feel better too!
  • Reduced pain in shoulders and back: This is related to the better posture Pilates gives you: with better alignment, you are less likely to go into bad positions that lead to pain, especially in your shoulders and lower back.
  • Great cross-training: Having a stronger core can help you in pretty much any sport. Pilates is particularly popular with dancers, golfers, and baseball players.
  • Reduced risk of injury: By strengthening your muscles and gaining greater awareness of your body, you are less likely to pull something or get bent out of shape doing something silly like getting out of your car.
  • Peace of mind: Doing Pilates requires intense concentration, so you won't have the chance to stew over things you're worried about!
  • Less stress: Taking time to focus on breath, alignment, and something other than the daily grind can help you lead a less stressful life.
  • Better balance: Pilates helps with both balance and coordination, especially if you work with foam rollers and stability balls.
  • Better awareness of your body: A lot of Pilates involves becoming aware of your body and its alignment, musculature, and function: you'll be amazed as you discover muscles you never even knew you had.

With all those benefits, who frickin' cares about weight loss?


The Final Word

Pilates makes for great exercise.

Yes, it can help with weight loss, and it can also help with a myriad of other things, as I have explained above. They say that the first month of Pilates can change your body and that the second can change your life. They're not kidding.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I hate taking exercise classes. And I can't stand 'trendy' exercise modalities. My mother got me started with Pilates against my will. But when I got the hang of it and felt the differenceboth in mind and bodythat it makes, I got hooked.

If Pilates can win someone like me over, it must be pretty frickin' good.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


matsinda on November 09, 2018:

Awesome blog!! thanx for giving me a specific information about the different Pilates that is helpful for me

Kerry on July 28, 2017:

I do pilates every single day. Before I started I was a size 14 and very unhappy. I am now a size 8 and I love the way I feel. I was a type 2 diabetic and now my A1C is perfect. My energy level is so much better. It is true the first month you will notice a difference the second month is even better. It is tough but you have to create good habit.

PhoenixPilates on October 31, 2015:

Hi, I just saw this hub and wanted to commend you on the information provided. I started Pilates classes a few years back after getting connected with a physical therapist who is also a certified Pilates instructor. We met through an internship while I was pursuing my personal training certification. I have to admit, it was nothing like the resistance and cardio training I was used to, but by the second class I noticed a significant difference in how my body felt, especially when it came to the aches and pains I had. I can't recommend it enough. In fact, I believe in it so much, my mentor and I created a site to bring the entire community together all in one place. is the site. Check it out sometime and see what you think. We'd love any feedback or comments you have that might help to improve the site. And if by chance you wanted to offer an article based on your knowledge in the Pilates subject, we would love to share that as well. Thank you.

By the way, my name is Jolene and we call ourselves Pilates pals.

Tori Canonge from North Carolina on April 21, 2014:

I recently started adding Pilates to my workout routine a couple weeks ago and I'm really enjoying it! I'm noticing that my muscles are being worked to the max and my flexibility is improving. It's amazing how great (and sore) you can feel after completing a Pilates workout. I mix it up with some cardio from Fitness Blender and I'm all set to go!

Britt on November 28, 2013:

Shoukd I do cardio before or after pilates?

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on September 28, 2012:

I love pilates but I will admit that I have not done them in like forever because I have been so focused on P90X and TurboFire. Of course, P90X does include several moves that are related to pilates and about 90 minutes of yoga once a week and then a stretching class. However, I remember when it first came out, the Winsor Pilates was all the rage. I had to have the program. I might have to pull them out again.

Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on September 28, 2012:

DUDE! So awesome when I find a hubber via Google search. I have a scheduling conflict with ballet so I was thinking about taking Pilates instead since it doesn't cause problems in my schedule and it'll keep me in shape for when I can go back to ballet. (Or I can just suck it up and drive to the ballet studio in Chicago.)

Pilates actually kind of reminds me of yoga (from what I see in the pictures.) Like hardcore yoga. Awesome hub, Simone!

h.a.n.d.s. from canada on August 21, 2012:

I started working out last year and with a major shift in how I view food, what I felt to be some hardcore pilates workouts, and a natural fat burner I lost 60lbs or so. I credit most of it to the pilates, I'm now a major enthusiast, and exploring yogalates in my community. It's a great way to start exercising even for those who are very overweight and suffering all the health side effects such as circulatory problems and energy. My fiancé is thrilled too! I haven't reached my goal, but my flexibility and energy has drastically come back back to me in record time. I focus a lot on full-body stretches and free weight exercises.

Bea on August 13, 2012:

I love Pilates I was doing it for awhile a couple years ago and felt great and stopped and felt tired all the time now I am back into pilates and feel great again with walking, I am kicking myself for stopping cause I felt so good when I exercised.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 14, 2012:

I'm so glad Pilates has made a difference for you, Pinkchic18! If you ever have the opportunity to work a foam roller into your workout, I highly recommend that, too!

Sarah Carlsley from Minnesota on February 29, 2012:

I do pilates once every week and I'd never heard of the foam roller. That seems helpful! But yes, I can definitely feel the difference pilates has made. I'd recommend it for sure.

lnierm from Indianapolis, IN on November 28, 2011:

I love this! I'm an instructor at Circle City Pilates and get asked this SO often. Each time, I say "Yesss... (trails off, hesitantly wanting to explain EXACTLY what you said!)

Thank you. I'm totally posting this on my Facebook!

- Lindsey

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 27, 2011:

I'm so glad you're enjoying those classes, gottaloveit! Things'll get easier with time- and then once you get even more experienced and better at accessing more obscure muscles, they'll get even more challenging!

gottaloveit from MD on October 26, 2011:

I've just started back to the gym and love the pilates and yoga classes. I know I get a workout as I sweat like crazy and find some of the move impossible at the moment. Great hub.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on October 23, 2011:

That's awesome prairieprincess! I do hope you take Pilates up again- especially since it sounds like it worked pretty well for you! And of course, the whole 'muscle weighing more than fat' thing probably explains why you saw a change in your appearance well before you noticed a weight change. Weight is not always the best measure of fitness... do keep that in mind!

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on October 23, 2011:

Simone, wow! That is so cool that you are a Pilates instructor. Right I am trying to lose weight and a couple of years ago, I googled the very words, "does Pilates help you lose weight?" Your hub hadn't been written yet but it would have been an excellent answer.

I got into Pilates at home for a while but let it go and this hub motivates me to get that tape out and try it again. I was doing it for about three weeks and my body started to feel completely amazing! I could feel my core strengthening and my posture improved. I swear it took about 10 lbs off of my appearance, even before I lost any weight.

I loved this hub and I'm definitely going to look at your other ones on Pilates. Thanks!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on June 15, 2011:

Oooh, nice! Thanks, visionandfocus!

visionandfocus from North York, Canada on June 14, 2011:

Awesome hub! I already know Pilates is great for you, but I like that you mention how it's good for cross-training. I'm linking to this from my 5K Training Tips hub. Thanks!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 12, 2011:

Oh, Pilates would be a great exercise to keep you conditioned while you recover!

Malcolm_Cox from Newcastle, England on January 12, 2011:

I'm going to give this a try. I've injured my knee so can't play football!!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 29, 2010:

You're very right, FrugalGal - Pilates can be modified to meet the needs of nearly anyone- be they a top, young, strong athlete or recently injured elderly person. Thanks for your kind comment!

FrugalGal on December 29, 2010:

Very nice article. Pilates are great, can be done by almost anyone to some degree, and do strengthen the all important core. Thank you for encouraging everyone to exercise.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 28, 2010:

Thanks, fadibody!

fadibody on December 28, 2010:

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this very informative details about Pilates.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 28, 2010:

Thanks, Peter! I say that if you have a routine that really works for you, stick with it! Though if things ever get stale or your goals change, or you need physical therapy for something, Pilates is a great choice.

GmaGoldie - I am glad to have motivated you! I'm typically dubious about fitness claims, as we all should be, but Pilates is really amazing if one takes the time to learn it properly and keep at it.

And thanks Cai! I'm chuffed to have been linked to!

Cai - on December 28, 2010:

This article has been linked by Quake Fitness!

A link to this article has been published on - Connecting Fitness Blogs.

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on December 28, 2010:

Simone Smith,

Love that quote - first month will change your body, second your life - exercise is wise! Muscle will change your metabolism.

Wonderful, motivational post!

Peter Allison from Alameda, CA on December 27, 2010:

Thanks for the enthusiastic and candid information about Pilates and exercise in general. I've got a cardio + weights routine that I love but this makes me want to give Pilates a try.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 27, 2010:

Thanks for asking the question, Ari! I'm really glad you're giving Pilates a try!

Ari Lamstein on December 27, 2010:

Wow, Simone, this is a great Hub. It more than answers my original question. Thanks so much!

Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on December 26, 2010:

Thank you for this honest and good information about Pilates. One does not hear of injuries, like old calisthenics's. Thanks for sharing

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on December 26, 2010:

Yeah, getting the energy to go to a class or do a workout is the hardest part! Sometimes signing up for classes, working with a private trainer, or even going to classes or doing workouts with a buddy helps :D

anglnwu on December 25, 2010:

I'm sold on Pilates but the truth is I find it difficult to be disciplined enough to do it regularly. Thanks for sharing. Rated useful.

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