How Pilates Changes Your Body

I used to be that girl who was Anti-Pilates.

The thought of not breaking a big sweat, not lifting heavy weights, and not being able to blast my intense workout music just wasn’t appealing to me. Over the years, my views on fitness and health has changed dramatically. I have realized that incorporating all different forms of movement and exercise is going to be the most beneficial in changing/shaping the body. From being a hardcore weights/HIIT gal to now trying Soul Cycle, Pilates, and running again, I am proud of myself for keeping an open mind and intend to retain this mindset into the new year. Today, I want to talk specifically about Pilates and the changes I’ve noticed since incorporating it regularly into my routine.

Have you guys heard of SLT Pilates? They opened on Newbury Street and I’ve been going pretty consistently-and loving it. SLT is a different kind of workout. It really challenges in your body in new ways. I highly recommend this workout to anyone.

What I’ve learned from trying Pilates:
  1. Pilates is not just a workout for older ladies. I think there is a stigma (perhaps being eliminated nowadays) that Pilates is only a workout for older women because it is low impact and you don’t neccesarily break an intense sweat. Anyone-men, women, kids, old, young, new or advanced with fitness, can benefit from incorporating a Pilates routine. After my first Pilates class, I felt sore in a different way than I had ever felt with running or lifting weights.
  2. Heavier does not always equal better. As some of you may know, when I got into lifting weights several years ago I encouraged low reps and very heavy weights. The reason why I felt this was a better approach is that it builds your muscle faster than doing high rep, low weight. However, I now have a much more neutral approach since both come with their respective benefits. For example, doing low rep and high weight does indeed encourage muscle growth, but it also can cause strain and injury. The Pilates style method of using weight (much lighter, but very high rep plus lots of pulsing motions) prevents injury, requires intense concentration, and your muscles are worked to complete fatigue. In turn, Pilates helps to lengthen and strengthen muscles in a way that traditional lifting cannot.
  3. Posture is a beautiful thing. Because of the way Pilates forces you to improve stabilisation of your spine, it also in turn improves your posture. Better posture means less of a chance for muscle imbalance and injury, because your physical coordination and balance is worked on. Good posture can not be underestimated. Good posture means better form during any exercise outside of Pilates, and it also means your core becomes stronger.
  4. Exercise not just your body, but your brain. It has been documented in several studies that not only is Pilates good for your muscle strength and flexibility, it improves your memory and stimulates creation of new brain cells. This is because you have to stay very aware and mindful while doing exercise like Pilates or Yoga as compared to more aerobic type exercise. In SLT, I have to stay incredibly focused and concentrated to make sure I am doing the exercise correctly, and this also makes the class go by way faster.
  5. The Pilates Reformer is not a scary contraption, but a versatile and powerful machine. I was always incredibly intimated by the Pilates Reformer. From my perspective, it had about a million different hooks, doodads, and clips on it. I thought: no way. I would spend more time getting myself comfortable on that thing than actually getting a workout in. However, at most Pilates classes the instructor will help you get settled on the machine and walk you through how to use it. If you are doing something wrong, the instructor will tell you and fix it for you promptly. By no means am I a pro yet on the Reformer, but I now understand the basics of using it only after four classes. The Reformer is truly an amazing piece of equipment. You can lie down on it, sit on it, stand on it, all the while it keeps you steady but challenged. It also is big enough to accomodate full-range of motion which of course increases your flexibility. The ability to adjust the springs means you can still add a resistance you feel challenged at. I find that this machine has challenged my core in ways that I never thought were possible before, and I am getting the hang of it more and more each time I attend a class.
positive changes i’ve noticed only after 3 weeks
  • Stomach feels flatter
  • My legs look more muscular
  • Major improvements in both flexiblity and posture

Note, that these physical changes are also combined with recent dietary changes I’ve made in my life as well (please click to read that post).

if you think you’re going to be “bad” at something, it is even more important that you try it.

I was hesitant about trying Pilates because once you are comfortable with a certain way of working out for a while, it can be easy to turn your nose up at other methods of exercise. But, I went ahead and pushed myself out of my comfort zone and gave it a shot. I am so glad I did! Now I am going to an “Advanced Clients Only” SLT Session this Saturday, and while I must admit I am a little nervous, I have no doubt that I am capable of keeping up.

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