We don’t know about you, but many of our clients who have tried Pilates have reported that it was nothing like what they thought it would be. In fact, they usually found it to be far more accessible and enjoyable than their initial impression.
In this blog, we wanted to address some of the most common myths that make people hesitant to try Pilates and reduce some of the confusion around the benefits of Pilates, including that you have to be flexible to do Pilates or that Pilates is only for core strength.
Keep reading to learn more!
Myth 1: Pilates is only for dancers and athletes
While it is true that the dance community has used Pilates to aid in conditioning, injury prevention, and injury rehabilitation, the Pilates method was not designed exclusively for dancers. While Pilates can be used to improve athletic performance, it can be an excellent form of exercise for individuals of all ages and fitness levels.
This is one of the things that we appreciate about the Pilates Reformer. It’s incredibly versatile. The same piece of equipment that can be used to design workouts to meet your specific needs if you have had a recent injury, or joint replacement, can also be used to create an incredibly challenging athletic workout.
In short, as long as the class that you are taking is an appropriate level for you, or you’re working with an instructor who knows how to choose the right exercises for your needs, then you can experience all of the benefits that Pilates has to offer, including increased flexibility, strength, control, and energy!
Myth 2: You need to be flexible to do Pilates
While you’ve probably seen the images and videos of people doing backbends or splits on the Pilates Reformer, the truth is that the Pilates Reformer can make exercise accessible, comfortable, and more effective if you have limited mobility or flexibility.
This is because the equipment is very supportive to your joints. For example, there is an exercise called Feet in Straps that strengthens your legs and core, while also supporting your lower back and hips.
Pilates Reformer exercises like this meet you where you are at right now. They also allow you to intelligently build strength by controlling how you move through increasingly larger ranges of motion, which can help you improve flexibility and gain strength.
Myth 3: Pilates is “easy” because it doesn’t make you hurt or sweat
A common misconception about exercise is that pain, sweat, or soreness are indicators of an effective workout. However, our bodies are much more complicated than that!
The truth is that soreness occurs as a result of novel movement, which means that anything new could make you sore - even if it’s not exercise! However, if you do that same movement again you are less likely to be sore. Furthermore, soreness doesn’t correlate well with increases in strength or flexibility, nor does it result in changes in body composition.
Also, while you don’t need to fear soreness, some research has suggested that there is a slight increase in the risk of injury. So in short, soreness is not a good way to judge how effective your workout is.
The same can go for sweat. How much an individual will sweat from a certain amount of exercise will vary, but it is interesting to note that working out in a hot environment will make you feel like a workout was harder, even though your level of effort was the same. (1) This means that sweating is not an accurate way to judge how hard you worked.
What we would suggest doing instead is to consider what your fitness goals are, and then choose exercises and classes that match those goals. For example, Pilates is excellent for building flexibility, strength, stability, and control. It targets your small postural muscles beautifully and can target many of your larger muscles as well. However, it is less effective for cardio and won’t give you explosive power for an activity such as sprinting.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do Pilates. It means that you should choose a mix of workouts that help you be well rounded in fitness and match your fitness goals. If you’re looking to make walking or running feel easier, Pilates can help by improving your body awareness, stability, and flexibility.
You could also practice Pilates in conjunction with weight training, because the postural work in Pilates can improve your form or range of motion in traditional weight training exercises, such as deadlifts and squats.
You have options, but it’s best to pick a modality based on your individual needs instead of relying on signals from the body that don’t correlate with positive outcomes or results.
Myth 4: Pilates is only about your abs
If core training is of interest to you, the Pilates Reformer can certainly offer that as many of the exercises emphasize stabilizing your body against resistance and the carriage, which does improve core strength.
However, the Pilates Method was not designed exclusively for core training and the Reformer offers a full body workout that can target all of your muscle groups. In fact, many of the exercises that you practice in the gym can be easily adapted to the Reformer and this is in addition to all of the more traditional Pilates exercises that were developed by Joe Pilates.
Myth 5: Pilates is the same as yoga
Yoga and Pilates both are valuable mind body modalities that offer mental and physical health benefits. However, they are very different systems of movement.
Here are some of the more notable differences between yoga and Pilates:
Depending on who you ask, yoga is a spiritual discipline with a physical practice dating back to 2700 B.C., whereas Pilates is a system of exercise that was developed by a man named Joseph Pilates during the 20th century with the intention of bringing the benefits of exercise and movement to as many people as possible.
The differences in Yoga and Pilates extend far beyond origin. The physical aspects of a yoga practice primarily rely on using one’s own bodyweight for resistance, with minimal props. While Pilates has a mat work component, it was designed to be taught as a system of exercise using equipment with spring resistance, including, but not limited to the Pilates Reformer.
The Pilates Reformer offers a different set of benefits to exercise than a physical yoga practice, because the equipment provides additional options for resistance and helps you strengthen your pushing and pulling muscles more evenly.
For example, if you were to perform a Chaturanga, which is similar to a push-up in yoga, your options would be your bodyweight on your knees or your toes. However, in Pilates, you could perform a seated exercise or assisted pushup on the reformer that would strengthen the same muscle groups, but at a reduced resistance, which could help you get stronger without overloading your wrists and shoulders. We don’t say this to criticize yoga. We’re just demonstrating how the Pilates Reformer offers more options for resistance to make an exercise match your current level of strength.
Additionally, in a yoga class, you would have limited options for strengthening the pulling muscles in your back, because you don’t have any extra resistance to pull against beyond body weight or a light prop, such as a yoga block. However, on the Pilates reformer, you can face the opposite direction on the reformer to practice rowing exercises against the spring resistance to more effectively strengthen your back muscles and help create muscular balance.
Finally, while both modalities offer options for connecting your body and mind, the breath patterns in Pilates and Yoga are very different and yoga often has a spiritual aspect that Pilates does not.
Ultimately, neither modality is better. They’re just each better suited for different things and you can choose the option that works best for you.
Ready to experience how the Pilates Reformer can support you in reaching your fitness goals from the convenience of your home? We are offering limited time FREE shipping if you pre-order yours today.
Reformers are slated to ship this summer and we offer a 30 day money-back guarantee.