Is Pilates a good exercise? The Truth About Pilates Weight Loss from a Certified Instructor

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 you - I'm a professional- and 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 through the ITT school in San Francisco - a 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...
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...
... and also helps with cross-training, balance, and stress relief!
... and also helps with cross-training, balance, and stress relief!

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, he or she (if this instructor is legitimate, at least) will secretly want to vomit, cry, or tear out his/her 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 that - before 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.

A basic Pilates warm-up using a foam roller

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 touch my nose to my knees.  Easily.
  • Better posture: Pilates does wonders for your posture.  And good posture does more than just look good - it 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 difference - both in mind and body - that it makes, I got hooked.

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

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Comments 31 comments

anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 5 years ago

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.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 5 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

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


Ari Lamstein profile image

Ari Lamstein 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

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


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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


Peter Allison profile image

Peter Allison 5 years ago from Alameda, CA

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.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

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!


Cai - QuakeFitness.com 5 years ago

This article has been linked by Quake Fitness!

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


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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!


fadibody profile image

fadibody 5 years ago

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


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks, fadibody!


FrugalGal profile image

FrugalGal 5 years ago

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 Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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!


Malcolm_Cox profile image

Malcolm_Cox 5 years ago from Newcastle, England

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


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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


visionandfocus profile image

visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

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 Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Oooh, nice! Thanks, visionandfocus!


prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 5 years ago from Canada

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 Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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!


gottaloveit profile image

gottaloveit 5 years ago from MD

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 Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

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!


lnierm profile image

lnierm 5 years ago from Indianapolis, IN

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 http://www.circlecitypilates.com


Pinkchic18 profile image

Pinkchic18 4 years ago from Minnesota

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.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco Author

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!


Bea 4 years ago

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.


Iheartautism profile image

Iheartautism 4 years ago from canada

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.


melbel profile image

melbel 4 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

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!


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

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.


Britt 3 years ago

Shoukd I do cardio before or after pilates?


Torrs13 profile image

Torrs13 2 years ago from California

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!


PhoenixPilates 13 months ago

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. http://www.pilatespal.com 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.

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