When I tell people I’m a Pilates instructor, I get a lot of interesting reactions. People who practice and love Pilates quickly tell me they admire my “dream” job. But many people who are less familiar with Pilates ask a lot of questions and make a lot of assumptions.
They say things like, “Oh, I’ve never done Pilates, it’s like yoga right?” or “I can’t do Pilates, I’m not flexible enough”. Some think Pilates is only for women, and get surprised when I tell them Joseph Pilates - the creator of this method - was a very athletic German man who designed Pilates for men in the military. And still others mention having tried Pilates once or twice, but never really “getting” it.
Let's bust some of these Pilates myths together so that we’re not leaving anybody out. If you’re hesitating to start because of these myths you might believe —or you’re just interested in learning more about what Pilates can do for you, read on.
MYTH #1: “Pilates is same as yoga.”
Pilates and yoga are perfect BFFs, but they’re not the same. Pilates is a system on its own and is actually very different than yoga. Pilates is very science based and nerdy. The goal is to create a very healthy, healed, and balanced body. It’s known for getting you leaner, stronger and more flexible. Whereas yoga is based in a spiritual practice, the physical aspects and asanas are kind of secondary.
They are similar in that they both encourage mind-body connection. They are both low intensity and low impact. But why & how they do it is quite different. Yoga and Pilates approach movement differently; have different breathing styles; and utilize very different exercises—although there are some overlaps in these movements.
I also have to say Pilates is what made me better at yoga. Pilates and what I learned about my body, correct alignment, and exercise principles helps me in everything else I do. It helps me stay safe, balanced and improve myself in all the other activities.
MYTH #2 “Pilates is for small, skinny women.”
Simply, not true. You don’t need to look any certain way to start and benefit from Pilates. You may find a lot of women who look this way do Pilates on Instagram. It's true that Pilates helps you create long lean muscles without bulking up. However, this definitely does not mean Pilates is only for small, fit bodies. It is for EVERY BODY, including all body types, sizes, and fitness levels.
While on the subject, you don’t need to lose weight before you start Pilates. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get the amazing benefits and see results.
MYTH #3 “Pilates is only for flexible people”
This one is my favorite. “Can I do Pilates if I’m not flexible?” The answer is actually hidden in the question. You don’t have to be flexible. It’s the other way around. You do Pilates to get more flexible. All the exercises are designed to make you more flexible and stronger in the most balanced, safest and fastest way.
MYTH #4 “Pilates is too easy.”
Pilates is only easy if you aren’t doing the exercises correctly. If you are going through the movements without applying the principles, it may feel easy—but you are not really doing Pilates. When the exercises are done properly, they should feel challenging and energizing for all fitness levels. You need to understand how to engage your deepest core muscles and apply the correct breathing and control to get the most benefit. That’s why it’s so important that you learn from a certified instructor to understand the fundamentals and proper form.
MYTH #5 “Pilates is expensive.”
Yeah, it definitely can be. But it doesn’t have to be. It can go either way depending on what you need and looking for. If you take a 1 hour private class, that definitely can cost a lot. But there are also a lot of options if you don’t have any special needs or injuries. Mat Pilates is usually much cheaper than Reformer Pilates for example. There are also online options that make Pilates more accessible and convenient. That's one of the reasons why I created Let’s Start Pilates eBook that you can have for a life time after just one payment. You can have a safe and consistent Pilates practice at home and it can be very affordable.
How can you go wrong with a workout that makes you stronger, leaner, more flexible, and that relieves stress, improves posture and mindfulness?
You just need to find a teacher who inspires you and commit to your practice. Like Mr. Pilates says “Every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things.”
And I say, f* yes, let’s do it.