Pilates 101: How Often Should You Do It & When to Expect Results

    pilates 101

    The benefits of regular exercise on one’s physical and mental health are well-established. Frequent exercise has been shown to dramatically improve mood, lower stress levels, strengthen the heart, and improve general wellbeing. In fact, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology highlighted the profound mental health benefits of regular physical activity among university students. It underscored the importance of maintaining these healthy habits for long-term benefits.

    For individuals aiming to achieve a fit body and improved mental health, one powerful and effective form of exercise is Pilates. This low-impact, full-body workout offers a plethora of benefits, including improved flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, enhanced core strength, and improved posture. With regular practice, Pilates can be a key component of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

    What is Pilates?

    Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. It is an exercise style that emphasizes body awareness, flexibility, and core strength. Pilates exercises, which include over 500 exercises, can be done on a mat or with specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair.

    The primary aim of Pilates is to develop “contrology,” or complete coordination of the body, mind, and spirit. It places a focus on striking a balance between strength and flexibility in order to create lean muscle, lower stress levels, and improve posture. 

    When regularly practicing Pilates, individuals can expect to achieve numerous benefits, including:

    • Improved Core Strength: Pilates exercises target the deep muscles in the abdomen, back, and pelvic floor, enhancing stability and balance.
    • Enhanced Flexibility: The controlled, flowing movements of Pilates can increase flexibility and range of motion.
    • Better Posture: By focusing on alignment and symmetry, Pilates can correct poor postural habits and promote a stronger, straighter spine.
    • Increased Body Awareness: Pilates practitioners often report heightened body awareness, which can lead to improved coordination and movement in everyday life.
    • Stress Relief: The mindful nature of Pilates can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, contributing to improved mental well-being.

    Pilates Training: How Often to See Results?

    The frequency of Pilates training needed to see results can vary based on individual fitness levels, goals, and the intensity of workouts. For best results, most Pilates instructors advise attending two or three sessions per week at the very least.

    In terms of when to expect results, it largely depends on the consistency and intensity of your workouts. For beginners, noticeable changes, such as improved posture or increased core strength, can often be felt within a few weeks of regular practice. Visual changes, like a more toned body, may take a bit longer—typically around 8 to 12 weeks, consistent 40 to 60 minutes of Pilates 2-3 times per week.

    Maintaining a regular Pilates routine does not mean you shouldn’t have rest days. Rest is crucial in any fitness regimen, including Pilates. It allows the body to recover, repair, and strengthen itself between workouts. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to take at least one to two rest days per week.

    Overtraining without adequate recovery time can result in burnout or injury. Therefore, it’s essential to listen to your body and incorporate rest days into your workout schedule, especially if you’re doing intense Pilates sessions.

    Pilates: Morning vs. Evening Sessions

    The question of whether it’s best to do Pilates in the morning or at night is a common one, and the answer can depend on personal preference, lifestyle, and fitness goals. However, there are specific benefits associated with both morning and evening Pilates sessions.

    Morning Pilates

    Pilates first thing in the morning can provide several benefits:

    • Boosts Metabolism: A morning Pilates session can kick-start your metabolism for the day, aiding in calorie burn and weight management.
    • Enhances Focus and Mood: The mindful movements of Pilates can help wake up the body and mind, promoting mental clarity and a positive mood for the rest of the day.
    • Promotes Fat Burn: Doing Pilates on an empty stomach in the morning may allow the body to burn fat rather than food consumed during the day.

    Evening Pilates

    On the other hand, evening Pilates also offers unique benefits:

    • Aids Sleep: A workout in the early evening can use up physical energy, potentially improving your ability to sleep.
    • Relieves Stress: After a long day, Pilates can serve as a form of stress relief, helping to calm the mind and body.
    • Greater Strength Potential: Some individuals find they are physically stronger in the afternoon or evening, which could enhance the effectiveness of their Pilates workout.

    Ultimately, the best time to do Pilates is the time that works best for you and fits into your schedule consistently. Whether you prefer to start your day with Pilates or wind down with an evening session, both can offer significant benefits for your physical and mental health.

    Patience and Consistency in Pilates

    In conclusion, Pilates is a transformative form of exercise that requires both patience and consistency. It is a journey of steady advancement and personal development rather than one that promises quick fixes or immediate results.

    Remember that the advantages of Pilates go well beyond mere physical transformations as you begin your journey. Improved posture, increased flexibility, and enhanced body awareness are all part of the process that may not be immediately visible but are just as valuable.

    Practicing consistently, morning or night, will eventually result in gains. Likewise, patience is essential; progress may seem slow at times, but each session brings you one step closer to your goals.

    So, keep showing up on your mat or Pilates machine. Stay patient with yourself and your body. Over time, you’ll not only see but also feel the difference. Remember, the journey to a healthier, stronger body through Pilates is a marathon, not a sprint. Take pleasure in both the process and the outcome.