Pilates Fitness Program

Pilates Fitness & Weight Loss Program

pilates exercise

Developed in the 1920’s by Joseph Pilates, the original intention of Pilates was to rehabilitate prisoners of war. After realizing the physical and mental benefits associated with performing the exercises and movements, the popularity of Pilates skyrocketed.

Although the popularity of Pilates in the United States initially lagged behind the rest of the world, today Pilates has become a mainstream form of exercise and is now being taught in fitness centers, Pilates studios and community centers.

Performing a Pilates fitness and weight loss program is an excellent exercise routine that will gently tone all major muscle groups, improve overall muscular strength (especially the core area), increase flexibility, balance and coordination, and improve mental focus and stability.

In addition, performing a Pilates exercise routine will burn a reasonable number of calories and moderately improve cardiovascular endurance.

Types of Movements

Pilates exercises focus on improving core strength, structural strength, flexibility, balance and mental awareness. One of the primary reasons Pilates has become so popular is the fact that it provides your body with extensive muscle tone, allowing for a much leaner appearance. Joseph Pilates believed that if you forced your blood to circulate throughout your body, it would awaken all of your cells and eliminate the elements that cause fatigue.

Below are the are six primary principles associated with a Pilates fitness program:

  1. Centering

  2. Control

  3. Precision

  4. Concentration

  5. Breathing

  6. Flow

When participating in a Pilates exercise program, you will find that it very much mimics yoga and other workout programs such as tai chi. You will need to focus on controlled movements to gain the biggest results. One of the main differences between the exercises performed in a Pilates fitness program and a traditional exercise routines is that Pilates does not involve performing a high number of repetitious exercises. Instead, Pilates focuses on performing a lower number of controlled movements.

Often times, less is more when participating in Pilates exercise program. Every movement in Pilates is essential to performing the overall exercise correctly. You must perform every movement precisely and properly to achieve the full health benefits associated with each series of movements. For this reason, less is more. If you rush through the series of movements or perform them incorrectly, you will diminish the intended benefits associated with each exercise.

Targeted Muscles

While Pilates exercise routines focus on strengthening and conditioning all primary muscle groups, there is a higher emphasis placed on the core area of the body. In addition, the various Pilates exercises are designed to tone and elongate the muscles, thus creating a longer, leaner and more sculpted appearance.

The movements associated with a Pilates exercise routine are also designed to improve balance and flexibility. By improving balance and flexibility, the probability of injuries and falls is reduced and everyday tasks and chores become easier, and can be performed with less fatigue.

Aerobic Effect

The intent of performing a Pilates exercise routine is not to achieve an aerobic effect. An individual achieves an aerobic effect when they raise their heart rate to their target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.

However, performing a Pilates fitness routine will increase your heart rate and require that your body intake a higher level of oxygen to successfully perform the movements and exercises. The fact that Pilates exercises increase the heart rate and contract the muscles forces the body to burn calories, albeit at a lower rate in comparison to other forms of cardiovascular exercise such as swimming, running and biking.

As muscle tissue is developed through the various exercises performed in a Pilates class, the muscle tissue will require a larger number of calories to be burned to support the new tissue. This is due to the fact that muscle tissue is denser than fat. Combining a Pilates fitness program that you perform 3 to 5 times per week with a healthy and nutritious whole foods diet will promote safe and effective weight loss.

Required Equipment

pilates class

There are several different types of Pilates equipment available for purchase. Unfortunately, Pilates equipment can be quite expensive and, in some cases, require a fairly large area in terms of square footage. For example, the Pilates Max Reformer costs approximately $2,000, the Reformer with Half Trapeze costs $2,500, and the Combo Chair costs approximately $1,000.

All of the previously mentioned Pilates equipment is of excellent quality and can be beneficial in performing the various Pilates exercises. However, to regularly and effectively perform a Pilates exercise routine the more expensive equipment is unnecessary as most exercises can be performed as floor exercises.

For individuals that can afford the cost of the Pilates equipment and have the space to contain them, performing your exercises with the aforementioned equipment will provide excellent health and fitness benefits. However, for many individuals, the cost will be prohibitive.

For individuals that want to begin a Pilates exercise routine without a significant financial investment, there are other less expensive options. For instance, there are Pilates studios that individuals can join for a regular fee. Most Pilates studios have the aforementioned equipment in addition to fitness instructors that demonstrate how the equipment is used and design exercise routines to meet your personal health and fitness goals. Typical costs for a membership to a Pilates studio are in line with fees at other general fitness centers.

Another approach is to purchase a membership to a fitness center that offers Pilates classes. Most of the Pilates classes offered at fitness centers concentrate on floor exercises and do not have the Pilates equipment listed above. Fortunately, Pilates floor exercises are highly effective, provide an excellent workout, and are definitely worth considering.

Yet another option is to purchase at-home Pilates DVD/VHS exercise programs. There are several Pilates home-based exercise DVD/VHS programs that are expertly constructed and highly effective at producing results that are comparable to the results obtained from a Pilates studio or fitness center. One benefit to this approach is that you can perform your Pilates exercise routine in the comfort of your own home and at a time that is convenient for you.

Additional items that you may require include a floor mat, exercise ball, water bottle to ensure that you remain hydrated, and comfortable clothing that will allow you to perform the movements unrestricted.


Pilates allows individuals to gain a multitude of benefits, including toning every muscle in your body and strengthening your spine. Pilates exercises are excellent for individuals with virtually any type of back pain, whether it is lower or upper. Stress, tension, anxiety and even depression levels will decrease over time as performing Pilates is very calming. Your abdominal muscles and entire core area will become flatter and more sculpted, while your entire body will have an overall leaner appearance.

Regularly performing a Pilates fitness routine will improve your overall muscular strength, moderately increase your lean muscle mass, enhance your cardiovascular endurance and create a lean and sculpted physique. In addition, you will see improvements in your coordination, balance and flexibility. Increases in flexibility are vital in that the muscle tissue will support improved blood and oxygen flow into the muscle fiber, and the flushing of toxins and waste by-products out of the muscle tissue.

pilates class

With over 14,000 Pilate instructors in the United States alone, it is relatively easy to find a Pilates class in your local area. It is not uncommon for individuals to perform a Pilates exercise routine to improve their core strength, tone and mental well-being while continuing to perform some other type of exercise like running, cycling, swimming or an aerobics class to significantly improve their cardiovascular endurance.

The overall effectiveness of performing a Pilates exercise routine is tremendous, reducing stress, anxiety, depression and pain while toning your body.

This being said, Pilates is an excellent addition to any exercise routine and targets both the physical and mental aspects of good health.

Remember to perform all Pilates exercises slowly and precisely. By doing so, you will find that your health, fitness and mental well-being will improve in a relatively short period of time.

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