Pilates is a popular workout style that’s known for helping create a lean body, strong core, and great posture! Many of you have asked me my thoughts about Pilates, and if it helps people lose weight. I’m excited to explain more about the benefits of Pilates. :)


Pilates is a low-impact workout that focuses on strengthening the entire body, especially the core. Participants do small, repetitive movements with an emphasis on breath control.

Pilates workouts can be done on the floor on a mat, or they can be done using special equipment, such as the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair. These pieces of equipment help provide additional resistance and support, and I’ll explain more about the pros and cons of the different types of Pilates later on. :)

Joseph Pilates is the creator of Pilates. His initial goal was to improve his own health, and he wanted to combine the strength of the Greeks with the meditation techniques from Eastern cultures. His approach, which he first called “Contrology,” focused on building a strong core, breathing deeply, and prioritising stretching. It worked for him and improved his athletic abilities.

Joseph Pilates went on to teach his routine to wounded soldiers to help them recuperate after World War Two. Joseph Pilates brought the exercise approach to the United States in the 1920s, where it grew into a more popular practice.

what is pilates

Health Benefits of Pilates

Pilates has been a popular form of exercise for almost a century! Doing Pilates can lead to a healthier lifestyle and greater wellbeing.

Weight Loss

Pilates can be one piece of the puzzle for weight loss. Pilates is a strength training (resistance training) workout. Strength training builds muscle tone, and the more muscle tone you have, the faster your metabolism gets.

So strength training like Pilates helps make your body more efficient at burning fat long after you stopped working out.

And the most effective workout is the one that you’ll stick to. If you love Pilates and you’re able to commit to doing it regularly, then that’s great for you! If you want to lose weight while doing Pilates and are struggling to see results, I suggest you incorporate cardio into your fitness plan. Also, don’t forget about the importance of eating a healthy diet. :)

It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re learning from an experienced instructor who will challenge you, while also making sure you’re doing the workouts safely. A good instructor will help Pilates be an intense workout that pushes you and contributes to calorie burn!

Pilates can also help you lose weight indirectly. Reducing stress and sleeping well will help you lose weight, and many people find that Pilates helps them be more rested and relaxed.

RELATED POST: Which Is Better for Weight Loss – Cardio or Strength Training?

Increases Core Strength

Doing regular Pilates will make your abs, back, pelvic floor, obliques, and general core stronger! Pilates workouts are very core-focused, which I love. The workouts will target your core in many different ways, including through:

  • Breathing exercises, like Pilates Hundreds, and intentional breathing throughout the workout
  • Instructing you to stay balanced, which requires core strength
  • Direct ab exercises

One recent study showed that the majority of people who did Pilates for 12 weeks had improved core strength.

RELATED POST: How to Build a Strong Core

Strengthens Your Muscles

There’s no question in my mind that Pilates is an amazing workout for your core, but it is great for strengthening the rest of your body too!

One of the benefits of doing Pilates is that you’re strengthening and lengthening your muscles all at once, which can contribute to that long, lean look that Pilates is known for!

benefits of pilates

Improves Body Awareness

All exercise should help you become more aware of your body, how to move your body, and what feels good to you. However, Pilates is really good at helping you improve your body awareness because the focus of Pilates is slow, controlled movements.

As a result of this, your mind and body have to work together to create intentional movements. If you don’t pay attention to your body during a workout, you won’t be doing the exercises properly and effectively.

Being more aware of your body is excellent for your daily life. You’ll remember to pull in your shoulders, relax your jaw, and stand with good posture and confidence! If you struggle with neck pain or headaches, you might notices that these little adjustments throughout the day help you feel better. :)

Body awareness can also prevent injuries and falls for people of all ages.

RELATED POST: Most Common Workout Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Helps Posture and Improves Back Pain

Throughout a Pilates routine, you’ll focus on keeping your spine aligned and your body in balance. This, along with improved core strength and body awareness, helps people who regularly practice Pilates improve their posture.

The same study I mentioned earlier shows that Pilates doesn’t just improve strength. It can also help reduce back pain, especially in your lower back. It also can help prevent future injuries from occurring. As always, if you have medical concerns, talk to a medical professional about trying Pilates for your back. :)

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Increases Flexibility and Mobility

Pilates isn’t just about strengthening your muscles. You also stretch them! This combination helps to carefully improve your flexibility and your mobility.

Improving both of these will help you feel better throughout the day, complete daily tasks better, and doing other types of exercise more effectively.

Apparatus Versus Mat Work

As I mentioned, there are two types of Pilates. You can do Pilates with equipment, often called Pilates apparatus, or on the mat.

Doing Pilates with equipment can be beneficial for people who cannot lay down on a mat for various reasons, including recovery from an injury. Classes that use an apparatus tend to provide more one-on-one attention. In most cases, the equipment is used as a tool to help people develop the strength and ability to move to mat-based work.

Using Pilates apparatus can also help you have more stability during the exercise, which can help improve mobility and flexibility.

Mat work is also beneficial. In some Pilates mat classes, participants will use light dumbells, Pilates rings, and tools like foam rollers to aid their workout. However, in general, the workout focuses on using bodyweight on the floor. The focus of these classes is to strengthen deep, supporting muscles.

Working on a mat is also good if you want to challenge your muscles to work in ways that they are not used to. You can certainly do this with an apparatus too. However, your body can move easier without the constraints of the apparatus, allowing you to challenge your muscles in new ways.

Mat classes tend to be larger than apparatus classes, so people who need individual attention should talk to experienced instructors prior to attending a class to make sure it will meet their needs.

types of pilates

Pilates Reformer

Pilates Reformer is one type of Pilates that uses equipment, and it is the most common apparatus to use. It’s also gaining popularity, and I receive a lot of questions asking about it.

The Reformer looks like a bed with a moving body. It has resistance springs, a foot bar, and straps that can be used for the legs or the arms. It can help you keep your body steady and stay in alignment while doing Pilates moves. The apparatus is adjustable, making it a good option for people who are new to Pilates and for those who are experienced.

It’s also easy on the joints, even at more challenging stages. In fact, one study from 2016 suggests that the Pilates Reformer is best for people who are recovering from an injury.

Reformers are expensive, and most people will choose to use one at a Pilates studio, instead of purchasing one.

In general, I’m a big fan of Pilates Reformer! However, I have had a couple of girls tell me that their legs bulk up from it. This will mostly depend on your teacher, as some of them will incorporate squats and similar movements into their routines. If you have any issues with it, I suggest switching to the mat instead. :)

RELATED POST: Will These Exercises Make My Legs Bigger?


Pilates can be an excellent addition to your workout routine! It can help strengthen your entire body, improve your posture, and help you feel and look better. Pilates may not give you the fastest results, it can help with weight loss in the long term!

Have you ever tried Pilates? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. :)

Love Rachael xx

6 Responses

  1. Hi! Is 15 minute cardio and 20 minute HIIT pilates workout routine great for mesomorph body type to lose weight and get lean especially in the legs area? Thank you : )

    1. Hi lovely! If your goal is to slim down your legs, there are 3 steps you should follow – do the right type of cardio, do bodyweight resistance training and adjust your diet for weight loss.

      Rachael has a very detailed blog post that will help you learn how to slim down your legs so please go give it a read.

      It will definitely help! :)

  2. Hi. Pilates is the only thing I will stick to, but I need to incorporate cardio. How do I do that? I have a treadmill. Trying to get my thyroid squared away.

    1. Hi lovely,

      Reformer Pilates is a great workout! But we’ve had some women tell us that they have bulked up from reformer pilates. Some workouts do include lots of squats and lunges which build muscle in your quads and can make your legs bigger and more muscly. This depends on your teacher and the style of reformer pilates that they teach. Again, if your goal is to slim down your legs, I would try a few different teachers and classes to find one that suits you best. If you are still having issues with reformer pilates, I would try regular floor-based pilates instead. :)

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