I Did Pilates Regularly For A Month, And I Was Blown Away By The Results. Here’s Why.

When I first heard that new Pilates studios were opening up all over New York and L.A., I was a little stumped. Hadn’t Pilates taken a backseat when barre burst on the scene? I’d thought that in between all those tucks and 90-second planks, people had long forgotten about the toning powers of the Pilates reformer.
 
As it turned out, I was wrong. My Instagram feed was suddenly flooded with images of people I admired lying on reformers, doing roll ups and leg circles, looking remarkably toned and detailing exactly how much stronger Pilates had made their bodies in the captions.
 
When I started asking around, I discovered that Pilates was indeed an excellent way to build strength, and not just in one part of the body. “Pilates focuses on creating balance throughout the body while moving the spine in all directions and the body in all planes of motion,” Tianna Strateman, VP of Education for Club Pilates told me. “Pilates builds strength in the deepest muscles of the body which are often underutilized.”
 
She added that an example of one of those muscles is the transverse abdominis, also known as part of the “core.” “A strong core helps build a strong foundation for the rest of the body, including the larger ‘global’ muscles, such as the quadriceps or biceps, which are often overworked.”
 
Because I’d been looking for a strength-building workout to supplement my two great exercise loves, running and yoga, I was sold. I decided to do Pilates on a reformer twice a week for one month, and boy was I impressed with the results. Here’s what happened.
 
My posture improved.
 
Despite my best efforts, good posture has never exactly been my strong suit. But over the course of my twice-weekly Pilates sessions, I noticed something remarkable: I was standing up straight without much effort. And it wasn’t just the whole standing up straight thing—I was also sitting up straighter at my desk instead of hunching over my laptop. As a result, I had less back and neck pain, and sitting and standing up straighter led to an even stronger core. It was a win-win.
 
Interestingly enough, I also found that my confidence improved, which was something I didn’t see coming. But after doing a bit of research, I realized this actually made sense: A study out of the University of Ohio found that that standing up straight leads to improved confidence. “Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people,” explains one of the study’s co-authors. “But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in.” It makes sense.
 
I had less pain while I was running.
 
As much as I love to run, I’ve had some nasty running injuries. And even when I’m not working with an injury, I deal with small aches and pains that slow me down or force me to take a week off here and there. I found that Pilates not only helped ease those aches and pains—it made my runs faster and stronger. When I mentioned this to Strateman, she told me that many people actually turn to Pilates not just to tone up, but as a way to complement other workouts.
 
“Pilates focuses on balancing and creating length in the body,” she explains. “It helps to build that strong support needed in high impact, repetitive exercises like running.  It’s for this reason that many people practice Pilates as a great way to complement the other workouts or activities they love to do.”
 
Yes, I was more toned too.
 
I should also mention that I definitely walked away from my month of Pilates with a stronger, leaner, more toned body. My core was noticeably stronger, but my legs and arms had a bit more muscle than usual as well.
 
I, for one, am glad Pilates has made a comeback—and I doubt it’s going anywhere anytime soon. “Pilates is a low-impact exercise that can be modified for any body type,” says Stateman. “With hundreds of exercises and hundreds of variations to those exercises, Pilates can be modified to accommodate a pregnant mom to be, a professional athlete, an older adult, or even a teenager.”
 
Cheers to that.

Tags: