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Fitness, Lifestyle

Pilates for weight loss: The ultimate guide to shedding pounds with Pilates

Pilates for weight loss can help you to work your muscles & burn calories. When paired with a healthy eating plan, you can also improve flexibility and posture.

Source: Pexels

Have you ever found yourself wondering about the myriad of ways to shed those extra pounds and feel more energised and alive? Well, you’re not alone! Today, let’s dive into the world of Pilates, a form of exercise that’s been a game-changer for many. 

So, what exactly is Pilates? Pilates is a mind-body workout that targets your core muscles with a combination of stretching, strength training, and breath control. It’s like giving your body a full tune-up, aligning your spine and making you more aware of your body's movements.

It’s not just about the physical benefits, though; it’s a holistic approach to well-being, focusing on mental alertness and body awareness.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room—can Pilates really help with weight loss? Absolutely! While it might not have you dripping in sweat like a high-intensity workout, it’s a powerhouse for toning muscles and boosting your metabolism, which, guess what, can lead to weight loss! 

The purpose of this article is to dive deep into the world of Pilates and explore how it can help you in your weight loss journey. We’ll uncover the principles of Pilates, its types, and how incorporating it into your routine can help you achieve your fitness goals. 

So, grab a cup of tea , sit back, and let’s unravel the magic of Pilates together! Whether you’re looking to tone up, slim down, or just seeking a new fitness adventure, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Let’s get started on this exciting journey to a fitter, healthier you! 

History and origin of Pilates

Before we jump into the how’s and why’s of Pilates for weight loss, let’s take a quick journey back in time to understand where Pilates came from and how it evolved into the workout we know and love today.

The creator: Joseph Pilates

Our story begins with a man named Joseph Pilates, born in Germany in the late 1800s. Joseph was a sickly child, but he was determined to overcome his ailments and develop a strong, healthy body.

He studied various forms of exercise, including yoga, gymnastics, and martial arts, and eventually, he blended these elements to create a unique method of physical fitness—what we now know as Pilates! 

Purpose and initial use

Joseph Pilates developed his method during World War I, with the intention of helping injured soldiers rehabilitate and regain their strength and mobility.

He believed in the connection between physical and mental health and emphasised the importance of mindful movement.

His method was revolutionary for its time, focusing on core strength, flexibility, and conscious control, principles that are still central to Pilates today.

Evolution and modern adaptations

Fast forward to today, Pilates has evolved and adapted, embracing modern knowledge about fitness and the human body. It’s no longer just a rehabilitation method but a widely practised form of exercise, loved by fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and celebrities around the world!

There are now various forms of Pilates, from mat to reformer, each offering unique benefits and allowing practitioners to tailor their workouts to their specific needs and goals.

Pilates has stood the test of time, proving its effectiveness and adaptability. It’s not just about building a strong core or achieving the perfect posture; it’s about creating harmony between the mind and body, promoting overall well-being, and helping us live our lives to the fullest.

So, now that we’ve taken a brief stroll through the history of Pilates, we can better appreciate its rich heritage and the foundational principles that make it such a powerful tool for physical and mental transformation.

Read also: 4 benefits of Pilates that'll inspire you to strengthen your core!

6 core principles of Pilates

Now that we’ve journeyed through the origins of Pilates, let’s dive into the core principles that make this method so unique and effective. These principles aren’t just exercise guidelines; they’re the essence of Pilates, shaping every movement and breath, and helping us connect our bodies and minds.

1. Centering

Centering is all about focusing on the core, the “powerhouse” of the body. It’s not just about those abs; it’s about engaging the entire torso, creating stability, and moving with purpose and control.

By mastering centering, we can enhance our balance, coordination, and strength, making every movement more efficient and powerful.

2. Concentration

In Pilates, every movement is a mindful movement. Concentration is key, allowing us to be fully present and attentive to our bodies.

It’s about moving with intention, being aware of every muscle and breath, and optimising the benefits of each exercise. This mindful approach can transform our workouts and our daily lives, promoting mental clarity and focus.

3. Control

Control is the heartbeat of Pilates. It’s about moving with precision and grace, avoiding unnecessary strain and maximising the effectiveness of each exercise.

By practising control, we can prevent injuries, improve our posture, and develop a deeper connection with our bodies, enhancing our overall fitness and well-being.

4. Precision

Precision in Pilates means performing each movement with accuracy and attention to detail. It’s about quality over quantity, ensuring that every exercise is done correctly and effectively.

This principle helps us develop better body awareness, improve our alignment, and achieve more balanced and harmonious movement.

5. Breath

Breath is the fuel of Pilates, energising our bodies and syncing our movements. It’s about breathing deeply and fully, oxygenating our muscles, and enhancing our endurance and vitality.

Proper breathing also helps reduce stress, improve concentration, and create a sense of inner calm and balance.

6. Flow

Flow is the rhythm of Pilates, creating smooth, seamless movements and transitions. It’s about moving with grace and fluidity, building a dynamic and harmonious workout experience.

Flow brings all the other principles together, creating a dance-like synergy and making Pilates a joyful and rejuvenating practice.

So, there you have it—the six core principles of Pilates, each contributing to a holistic and transformative workout experience. By embracing these principles, we can unlock the full potential of Pilates, enhancing our physical and mental well-being, and stepping closer to our weight loss goals.

Source: Pexels

Pilates and weight loss

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s delve into the juicy part—how Pilates can be your ally in your weight loss journey. It’s time to bust some myths and spill the tea on how Pilates can help you shed those stubborn pounds!

Caloric burn in Pilates

First things first, let’s talk about burning calories. How many calories can you actually burn with Pilates? It’s a common question and quite an important one if weight loss is one of your goals.

Pilates, at its core, is more about toning and strengthening than high-intensity calorie burning. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be burning calories!

The actual number of calories burned during a Pilates session can vary widely depending on several factors, including your weight, muscle mass, fitness level, and the intensity of the workout.

For instance, a typical mat Pilates session might burn around 150 to 250 calories per hour, while a more intense reformer Pilates session could see you burning upwards of 250 to 450 calories per hour. 

It might not sound like a lot compared to, say, running or cycling, but remember, Pilates is a full-body workout that helps in building lean muscle mass. And more muscle means a faster metabolism, which in turn means your body will be burning more calories even at rest! 

It’s also worth noting that the focus in Pilates is often on smaller, stabilising muscles that you might not target in other workouts. Strengthening these muscles can lead to improved overall strength and balance, better posture, and a more toned appearance. 

So, while the calorie burn in Pilates might not be extremely high, the overall benefits for your body composition and metabolism can contribute significantly to weight loss over time.

Remember, the key is consistency. Regular Pilates sessions, coupled with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle, can definitely help you in achieving your weight loss goals. So, don’t just focus on the numbers; enjoy the process, listen to your body, and watch the transformation unfold! 

How Pilates contributes to weight loss

So, we’ve talked about the caloric burn in Pilates, but how exactly does it contribute to weight loss? Let’s delve a bit deeper into this. Pilates is like the silent warrior of fitness; it might not seem like it’s doing much in terms of shedding pounds, but it’s working wonders beneath the surface!

1. Muscle toning

Firstly, Pilates is phenomenal for building lean muscle mass. Why is this important, you ask? When we think about losing weight, we often focus solely on the number on the scale, but building and toning muscle is the unsung hero of sustainable weight loss.

Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories even when you’re at rest. So, the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be. This means you’ll be burning more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not working out

Muscle toning can also transform your body composition, giving you a leaner and more defined appearance. You might notice your clothes fitting better and your body looking more sculpted, even if the scale doesn’t budge. It’s about creating a stronger, more resilient body that feels as good as it looks!

2. Enhancing body awareness

Pilates also enhances your body awareness and mind-body connection. This heightened awareness can lead to improved eating habits and lifestyle choices, which play a crucial role in weight loss. When you’re more in tune with your body, you’re more likely to make nutritious food choices and lead an active lifestyle.

3. Improving posture and alignment

Another fantastic benefit of Pilates is its ability to improve posture and alignment, which can lead to a more elongated and toned appearance. It might not change the number on the scale overnight, but it can certainly make you look and feel leaner and more confident in your body.

4. Strengthening the core

Let’s not forget the core! Pilates is a core-centric workout, and a strong core is the foundation for all movement. It helps in improving functional strength and can aid in the prevention of injuries, allowing you to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, essential for sustained weight loss.

5. Reducing stress

The stress-reducing properties of Pilates should also not be underestimated. Stress is a significant contributor to weight gain, primarily through emotional eating and increased cortisol levels, which can lead to fat storage, particularly around the midsection. The focus on breath and movement in Pilates can help in reducing stress levels, making it a valuable ally in your weight loss journey.

6. Creating a balanced lifestyle

Pilates isn’t just a workout; it’s a lifestyle. It fosters a balanced and harmonious relationship between body and mind, promoting habits that contribute to a healthier, happier you!

Types of Pilates for higher calorie burn

Now, let’s dive into the various types of Pilates and see which ones can help us burn those calories more effectively. Pilates is not a one-size-fits-all kind of exercise; it offers a range of styles and intensities, allowing us to tailor our workouts to our specific needs and goals.

1. Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is the most accessible form of Pilates, requiring minimal equipment and focusing on bodyweight exercises. It’s a fantastic way to build core strength and improve flexibility. While it might not be the most intense calorie-burning workout, it’s a great starting point for beginners and can still contribute to weight loss when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

2. Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates takes things up a notch, utilising a specialised piece of equipment called the reformer to add resistance to the exercises. This added resistance can increase muscle engagement and calorie burn, making Reformer Pilates a great option for those looking to enhance their weight loss efforts. It’s dynamic, challenging, and incredibly effective for building strength and toning muscles.

3. Cardio Pilates

For those looking to maximise calorie burn, Cardio Pilates is the way to go! It combines the core-strengthening benefits of traditional Pilates with more dynamic, high-intensity movements, elevating the heart rate and boosting cardiovascular fitness. It’s a fun, energetic way to experience Pilates, blending the best of both worlds and offering a more intense workout experience.

Choosing the right type

When it comes to choosing the right type of Pilates for higher calorie burn, it’s essential to consider your fitness level, goals, and preferences.

Whether you prefer the simplicity of Mat Pilates, the challenge of Reformer Pilates, or the energy of Cardio Pilates, finding the right fit can make your Pilates journey more enjoyable and rewarding.

Remember, the key to successful weight loss is consistency and enjoyment, so choose the type of Pilates that you love and will stick with. It’s not about pushing yourself to the extreme; it’s about finding joy in movement and building a healthier, happier you.

Comparison with other forms of exercise

When we think about calorie-burning champions, activities like running, cycling, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) might come to mind. These exercises are renowned for their ability to torch calories and improve cardiovascular fitness. But how does Pilates stack up against other forms of exercise when it comes to burning those calories?

1. Pilates vs. cardio exercises

Pilates, at its core, is not a cardiovascular exercise, but it does have cardio benefits! While it may not burn calories at the same rate as, say, a high-paced spin class, it does contribute to overall calorie expenditure in a more subtle, low-impact manner.

It’s like the silent achiever of the exercise world, working its magic quietly but effectively.

2. Pilates vs. strength training

When compared to traditional strength training, Pilates offers a unique blend of strength and flexibility. It may not help you bulk up like weightlifting, but it will definitely help you tone and strengthen your muscles, especially the often neglected smaller muscle groups.

It’s about creating lean, balanced muscle mass, and enhancing overall body strength.

3. Pilates vs. yoga

Pilates and yoga share some similarities, like the emphasis on breath and flexibility, but they have different goals. Yoga is more focused on flexibility and relaxation, while Pilates primarily aims to strengthen the core and improve posture.

Pilates can be more dynamic, offering a more structured workout with a focus on muscle engagement and alignment.

4. The balanced approach

What’s wonderful about Pilates is its versatility. It complements other forms of exercise beautifully, balancing the intensity of cardio workouts with its focus on precision and control, and enhancing the flexibility and mindfulness gained from yoga.

It’s like the best friend every other exercise didn’t know they needed, bringing balance and harmony to your fitness routine.

Source: Pexels

Creating a Pilates workout plan for weight loss

Alright, now that we know the incredible benefits of Pilates for weight loss, let’s talk about creating a Pilates workout plan that aligns with your weight loss goals. Crafting a well-rounded, effective plan is crucial to seeing those desired results!

1. Assessing fitness level and setting goals

Before jumping in, it’s essential to assess your current fitness level and set realistic, achievable goals. Whether it’s losing a certain amount of weight, toning up, or improving flexibility, having clear objectives will keep you motivated and focused. 

2. Choosing the right type of Pilates

Next up, decide whether Mat Pilates or Reformer Pilates is right for you. Mat Pilates is versatile and accessible, great for beginners and those looking to improve flexibility and core strength.

Reformer Pilates, with its added resistance, is excellent for those aiming for more intensive muscle toning and strengthening.

3. Incorporating variety in Pilates workouts

Variety is the spice of life, and it’s no different in Pilates! Mixing up your routines keeps things exciting and challenges your body in new ways. Incorporate different exercises, props, and equipment to target various muscle groups and avoid workout monotony. 

4. Frequency and duration of workouts

Consistency is key in Pilates. Aim for at least 3-4 sessions per week, each lasting around 45 minutes to an hour. If you’re pressed for time, shorter, more frequent sessions can also be effective. Listen to your body and adjust the frequency and duration as needed.

5. Combining Pilates with other forms of exercise

While Pilates is fantastic, combining it with cardio exercises like walking, running, or swimming can optimise your weight loss results. A balanced approach ensures you’re getting the best of both worlds—strength and endurance. 

Getting Started with Pilates

Excited about embarking on your Pilates journey but not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s a simple guide to help you kickstart your Pilates adventure and step into a world of strength, balance, and harmony.

1. Finding a Pilates class or instructor

Starting with a certified instructor or a reputable class can make a world of difference. Look for local Pilates studios or fitness centres offering Pilates classes. Many places offer beginner-friendly classes, making it easy to dive in. Websites like ClassPass can help you find classes near you!

For our readers in Brazil or Malaysia, we’ve curated a list of top Pilates classes just for you! Check out our article “Top Pilates Classes in Brazil and Malaysia” to find the perfect fit and start your Pilates journey on the right foot! 

2. Essential equipment and attire

You don’t need much to get started with Pilates! For mat Pilates, a comfortable mat and workout attire are sufficient. If you’re trying reformer Pilates, most studios provide the equipment. Just wear comfortable, stretchy clothing, and you’re good to go!

3. Tips for beginners

  • Start slow: Begin with basic exercises and gradually progress to more advanced ones.
  • Be consistent: Regular practice yields better results, so try to incorporate Pilates into your routine several times a week.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s signals and modify exercises as needed to avoid strain or injury.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workouts to stay well-hydrated.
  • Enjoy the process: Embrace the journey, celebrate your progress, and have fun!

Source: Kate Hudson Instagram

Celebrity Pilates success stories

Let’s get inspired by some real-life success stories of celebrities who swear by Pilates for maintaining their stunning physiques and radiant health. These stories are not just about weight loss but about embracing a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Kate Hudson

The radiant Kate Hudson, known for her roles in movies like “Almost Famous” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,” is a huge Pilates enthusiast. Kate has often shared glimpses of her Pilates workouts on social media, showcasing her incredible strength and flexibility.

For Kate, Pilates is not just about staying in shape; it’s about feeling strong, centred, and energised. It’s a testament to how Pilates can be a powerful tool for holistic well-being.

Cameron Diaz

The ever-youthful Cameron Diaz has been a long-time lover of Pilates, incorporating it into her fitness routine to maintain her lean, toned physique.

Cameron attributes her enviable fitness levels to the balanced approach of Pilates, emphasising its role in building core strength and improving overall body functionality. Her dedication to Pilates demonstrates how it can be a sustainable, effective way to stay fit and healthy at any age.

Meghan Markle

Before becoming the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle had often expressed her love for Pilates, particularly the Reformer Pilates. Meghan has praised Pilates for its ability to lengthen, strengthen, and tone the body, creating lean muscle mass without bulkiness.

Her graceful posture and elegant movements are a beautiful reflection of the benefits of Pilates, inspiring many to explore this versatile workout.

Considerations and precautions

While we’ve explored the myriad benefits and success stories of Pilates, it’s crucial to also discuss the considerations and precautions to ensure a safe and effective Pilates experience. Pilates is generally a low-impact and versatile workout, but like any form of exercise, it requires mindful attention to your body’s needs and limitations.

1. Consultation with healthcare or fitness professional

Before embarking on your Pilates journey, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions or concerns, it’s wise to consult with a healthcare or fitness professional. They can provide personalised advice, ensuring that your Pilates routine is tailored to your individual needs, goals, and any limitations you might have.

2. Who should avoid Pilates

While Pilates is suitable for most people, certain conditions may require modifications or avoidance of specific exercises. Individuals with severe osteoporosis, those at high risk of blood clots, or those with certain types of hernias should exercise caution and seek professional guidance before starting Pilates.

3. Importance of a balanced diet

Pilates is a fantastic component of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s not a silver bullet. A balanced, nutritious diet is equally important in achieving and maintaining weight loss and overall health. Remember, it’s about creating a sustainable, holistic approach to well-being, with Pilates as one piece of the puzzle.

4. Proper technique and form

Maintaining proper technique and form is crucial in Pilates to avoid injury and maximise benefits. It’s beneficial to start with a qualified instructor who can provide feedback and corrections, ensuring that you’re performing the exercises correctly and effectively. As you become more experienced, maintaining mindfulness of your form remains essential.

5. Listening to your body

Lastly, but most importantly, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, modify or skip the exercise. Pilates is about harmonising with your body, not straining it. It’s essential to recognize your limits and gradually progress, building strength and flexibility over time.


We’ve journeyed through the transformative world of Pilates together, and what a ride it’s been! We’ve delved into the essence of Pilates, explored its myriad benefits, and even gleaned inspiration from celebrities who swear by it. It’s been enlightening to see how this holistic approach to fitness can be a game-changer in our quest for health and well-being.

Pilates is not just a series of exercises; it’s a lifestyle, a harmonious blend of mind and body, creating a symphony of balance, strength, and flexibility. It’s about cultivating a relationship with your body that is rooted in respect, awareness, and love. 

Remember, Pilates might not be the calorie-torching champion, but its focus on muscle toning, strengthening, and the mind-body connection makes it a formidable ally in weight loss and overall wellness. It’s about the subtle, powerful transformations that lead to a stronger, more balanced you.

Whether you’re a fitness newbie or a seasoned pro, Pilates has something to offer everyone. It’s versatile, adaptable, and accessible, making it a fantastic addition to anyone’s fitness routine. So, why not give it a go? Embrace the flow, feel the burn, and let’s get those bodies moving! 

We hope this guide has inspired you to explore Pilates and experience its transformative power firsthand. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey. So, enjoy every stretch, every breath, every moment of stillness, and celebrate the beautiful journey to a healthier, happier you! 

Here’s to embracing new beginnings, discovering new strengths, and stepping into a world of endless possibilities with Pilates! Let’s embark on this exciting adventure together and witness the magic unfold. Happy Pilates-ing! 

Friska 🐨

Read next: Bored of your Pilates workout routine? Try Wall Pilates at home.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is Pilates suitable for beginners?

Absolutely! Pilates is incredibly adaptable, making it suitable for fitness enthusiasts at all levels. Many studios and online platforms offer beginner-friendly classes to help you ease into the practice.

2. How often should I do Pilates for weight loss?

Aim for at least 3-4 times a week. Consistency is key in seeing results. However, remember to listen to your body and allow it adequate rest and recovery.

3. Do I need special equipment for Pilates?

For mat Pilates, all you need is a comfortable mat. Reformer Pilates does require specialised equipment, but if you’re attending a class at a studio, they will provide it.

4. Is Pilates only for women?

Not at all! Pilates is beneficial for everyone, regardless of gender. It’s a versatile workout that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and mind-body connection, offering benefits for all.

5. Will Pilates help me lose belly fat?

While Pilates is excellent for building core strength and can contribute to a toned appearance, targeted fat loss (or “spot reduction”) isn’t possible. A combination of regular exercise, including Pilates, and a healthy diet is the most effective approach to losing belly fat.

6. How long does it take to see the weight loss results with Pilates?

Everyone’s body is different, but with consistent practice, most people start to see and feel changes within a few weeks. Remember, it’s not just about the physical transformation but also about the improved mind-body connection and well-being.

7. Is Pilates safe during pregnancy?

Generally, Pilates can be safe during pregnancy, but it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider and work with a qualified instructor who can modify exercises to suit your individual needs.


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