It makes me really sad that these kinds of questions – ‘Is Pilates for weight loss?’ and ‘Will Pilates help me lose weight?’ – are amongst the most common things that people search for when they want to know more about Pilates. Your health is so much more than your weight, and weight loss shouldn’t be the main reason that you exercise, especially at this time, in the middle of a pandemic, when we need to focus far more on our mental health and our emotional wellbeing than on the numbers we see on the scale.
Joe Wicks said it best: exercise for your mental health first, and the weight will come off when it’s not your primary goal. We should exercise to feel well and to manage things like depression, anxiety, and fatigue, rather than focusing on our weight. Weight loss shouldn’t be the main reason why we lace up our running shoes or put on our swim cap.
In the past twelve years, I have been every size from 109 pounds to 164 pounds, and I was just as unhappy at my smallest weight than I was at my heaviest weight. Even if you do lose weight and manage to keep it off, it won’t necessarily make you any happier. What will make you happier is exercising regularly for your mental health, because exercise helps you manage your stress and sleep better. It’s also a way to be social during Covid time – there’s no better way to see friends right now than by going for a long walk, a run, or a bike ride.
If you can’t lose weight with Pilates, what actually helps you lose weight? Doing cardio exercise and strength training, staying hydrated, managing your stress, sleeping well, and eating healthy.
If Pilates doesn’t help you lose weight, what does it do?
Most people start Pilates at the recommendation of their physiotherapist. The physio takes care of the acute pain and then the Pilates teacher helps with the chronic pain. Clients who have been coming to Pilates for twenty years typically start classes to rehab an injury, like knee or hip pain, and then stay on and use it as a form of exercise.
I’ve helped clients manage pain from arthritis, whiplash, and rotator cuff injuries. It also helps with discomfort from sitting all day, and even the soreness and tiredness you can experience when pregnant. Many clients with fibromyalgia, who can have pain from something as simple as doing laundry, find that Pilates doesn’t cause them pain. It helps to manage their pain and it boosts their energy.
I came into Pilates with no ab muscles and no bum muscles, and flabby arms and weak hands from having no upper body strength. Now, my arms and hands are much stronger, and I have way better balance, strength, and body confidence because, for the first time ever, my obliques and glutes actually kick in to support me.
I have had only two falls in the snow since December 2019 and, in the winter, I used to fall every day, sometimes multiple times a day. Pilates also makes your balance better because you can catch yourself when you slip or stumble and prevent falls. It improves your reaction time and reflexes.
Aren’t all these things more important than losing weight?