Reader’s Questions: Can Pilates help me lose weight?

December 9th, 2014

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Q: Can Pilates help me lose weight?

Yes! As with any other form of exercise, Pilates can assist with weigh loss. Losing weight, shaping your body, and increasing your overall fitness by doing Pilates depends on the following:

- Focus. The level of attention you bring to your body as it performs each exercise is key. Bringing attention to all the different parts of the body as they work together from your head to your feet while honing in on the abdominals makes for a more effective workout. Sometimes just paying attention to your breathe maximizes the results you get.

- Patience. Weight loss happens in stages. At first it may seem as though there are too many things to remember while doing Pilates but, once you get it the rewards are high. You may not notice a difference on the scale as soon as you wish, yet you may notice clothes fitting better as Pilates helps to reshape your body.

- Frequency. Being consistent with your practice of Pilates makes a big difference. Doing Pilates at least a couple of times a week can help you reach your fitness goals better than being inconsistent and coming to class once a week or whenever you can fit it into your busy schedule.

- Planning. Make time for exercise. Schedule your Pilates sessions as you would a business meeting or social engagement. The benefits you reap from your commitment may even enhance every other thing you do.

- Communication. Talk with your teacher or studio owner. Your instructor can assist you in finding ways to make Pilates work for you. Sometimes you might need a modified version of an exercise or you may need to change the pace of the Pilates repertoire you're following. Weight loss is not just about getting you're heart rate up and doing the "right" kind of cardio; it's about increasing lean muscle mass and creating a healthier lifestyle. Pilates has a strong history of helping students create lean muscles and teaching principles that one can apply to other aspects of life.

- Lifestyle. What you do when you're not doing Pilates matters! To lose weight or get a healthier body, being mindful of what we do outside of exercise is important. That means different things to different people. If you're still drinking cans of soda a day and eating highly processed foods, then you might try substituting fresh foods. If you're sleep deprived, you might try going to sleep an hour earlier or taking a nap during the day. There's a lot we do in a day and sometimes there are better ways to do them. See where you can make changes for the better and ask for assistance if you're not sure how to go about it.

Depending on the person, strategies for weight loss or any other fitness goal vary. Pilates can help you get in shape, lose weight, become stronger, more flexible, or whatever you define as getting healthier, as long as it's tailored to your unique needs.