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Can Pilates Help You Lose Weight?

  • March 26, 2018
  • By Brittany
Can Pilates Help You Lose Weight?

We all know that if you want to look tight and toned then pilates is a no brainer.  But what if your goal is to shed pounds?  Can pilates help you lose weight?  The answer is definitely yes.  But you have to understand how it can help.

Classical Pilates Mat Work

First, pilates mat work is based on 9 Specific Principles designed to make the practice a fluid and effective form of exercise.  But in order to learn all these principles, as well as the proper form for each movement, we sometimes have to slow the exercises down and master the basics.  Just as you can’t play a great game of tennis without practicing your shots first, you can’t expect to flow through mat work without first learning all the principles and proper alignment.  

Therefore, when people start out with pilates they often think that the class is too slow or is not challenging enough or won’t help them burn enough calories to lose weight.  This isn’t true at all.  You can lose weight but you need to be consistent, learn the proper technique and then advance your practice.  An advanced pilates practitioner is able to perform even the most complicated moves engaging many muscles at the same time and flow through the class at quick pace.  This in turn burns calories and helps build lean muscle mass, which burns more calories when you are not moving.  So the key to losing weight in a mat class is to practice enough so that you can reach a more advanced level and work harder.  But don’t worry, all the work along the way contributes to you losing weight!  

Hybrid Pilates Mat Work

Patience isn’t your virtue?  Today many pilates mat classes are hybrid classes designed to attract the general fitness enthusiast instead of the pilates diehard.  These hybrid classes tend to rely on props like weights, balls, bands, bosus and more to help add extra resistance to the class.  They also focus more on working the muscles like a toning class with a basis in pilates rather than focusing on the classical progression and the nine principles.  

While a pilates diehard may not enjoy this variation on the traditional format, fitness fusion lovers will find it refreshing and notice that they might achieve their weight loss goals slightly faster.  The reason being the less time focusing on pilates principles and form means the class can move a bit faster and the added props create more resistance, recruiting more muscle and building lean muscle mass faster.  Additionally, the added resistance may increase the heart rate.  Hybrid classes also sometimes include standing work, which can burn more calories as it relies on large muscle groups like the legs and glutes, which increases the heart rate.  This can also help you lose weight faster.

Pilates Equipment Classes

Pilates equipment classes are uniquely challenging in that the equipment automatically provides extra resistance requiring your muscles to work harder.  Sometimes I don’t realize how hard my muscles are working against the springs until after class when I feel how tired my muscles are!  Plus many of the moves performed on the reformer, for instance, flow from one to the next helping increase your heart rate and burn more calories (remember weight loss is calories in versus calories out!).  If you want to lose weight, I strongly encourage you to explore your pilates equipment class options as you will no doubt be happy with the results!

Adding Cardio to Your Pilates Workout

When all else fails, you can lose weight faster by burning more calories adding cardio to your pilates workout.  If you are a reformer fan, try adding jumpboard to your routine.  The jumpboard allows you to propel yourself on the carriage allowing your heart rate to increase just as jumping on the floor would!  You would be surprised by how exhausting this is even laying down!

In your mat class, consider adding in some HIIT moves like jumping jacks, rolling like a cannonball (rolling like a ball to a standing jump) or jump switch lunges.  These moves will definitely get your heart rate going!  Or you could consider adding in some jump rope work in between classical pilates moves.  For example, you could warm up with 5 minutes of easy jumping, perform the hundred, the rollup, the rollover, single leg circle and rolling like a ball, then do another 3-5 minutes of jumping rope, then perform the series of five and then another 3-5 minutes of jumping rope.  Continue on like this until you’ve finished the complete mat series.

You could also try some low-impact cardio like jumping on a mini trampoline and then adding in some pilates mat work.  I created a full-length cardio pilates class incorporating the mini trampoline and mat pilates.  It burns some major calories!

Want more tips to help you lose weight with pilates?  Check out Five Tips to Amp Up Your Pilates Routine!

Ready to start losing weight?  Let’s do pilates together!  I have classes ranging from beginner to intermediate to totally cardio!






P.S. Still wondering, can pilates help you lose weight?, then check out these other articles on pilates and weight loss:

Does Pilates Help You With Weight Loss

Pilates for Weight Loss

By Brittany, March 26, 2018
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  • Holly
    March 27, 2018

    That is such a great explanation for me of the Hybrid Pilates classes. Also, I should amp up my routine so I will take your advice and read your 5 Tips to Amp Up Your Pilates Routine.

  • Paula Kendricks
    May 4, 2019

    Awesome! I have been doing pilates for only just a week and I’m really hoping it would help me lose weight. I have been trying to lose weight for years, and I have been unsuccessful. I have read a lot about pilates and I am really hopeful about it helping me lose weight.

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