Updated: Mar 9
Pilates is an excellent form of exercise for many reasons : strengthening the core, improving posture, decreasing back pain, preventing injuries, and decreasing stress. Those are just a few of the benefits that Pilates provides. People often have misconceptions about what Pilates is about and that can make it seem intimidating for someone who hasn't tried it before. Here are 7 common myths about Pilates and some information to set the record straight.
Pilates is only for women: Pilates is popular with women, but men are also big fans of this challenging core workout. Profession athletes have found great benefits from Pilates in the form of strengthening the smaller stabilizing muscles that help reduce the chance of injury which is vital to them in their sport. Joseph Pilates developed Pilates as a way to help condition and rehabilitate dancers, both male and female.
Pilates isn't a "Real" workout: Pilates is challenging due to the fact that the deepest muscles in the body are being targeted. Many people believe that Pilates is merely a form of stretching, but that is only part of it. The resistance and weight of the body are used to perform controlled movements in a slow and controlled manner. Balance and posture are also important in Pilates workouts.
Pilates and Yoga are the same thing: There are many similarities between Yoga and Pilates -both involve stretching and focus on breathing. They are also both practiced on a mat. There are quite a few differences between the two practices as well. Yoga specializes in connecting with the spirit using movement and flow. Yoga can also help with balance and flexibility. Pilates has more adaptability to allow for rehabilitative aspects especially with use of the machines like the Reformer and the Cadillac. Pilates also uses breath differently then Yoga in order to initiate and sustain exercises.
Pilates will give you 6-Pack Abs: Pilates is well known for building core strength, but it's not all about building the 6 pack muscles (rectus abdominis). The deeper muscles of the core are the targets - the transverse abdominis, the pelvic floor, the multifidus, internal obliques, and diaphragm. These muscles provide the foundation to help improve alignment, pelvis stability, and posture which are vital in protecting the back from injury.
Reformer Pilates is harder than Mat Pilates: Mat Pilates and Reformer Pilates can be equally challenging. With Mat Pilates you don't have the feedback of the springs or the resistance level of the Reformer to support or challenge the body. Mat Pilates involves only using the resistance of the body against gravity which can be challenging for proprioception (the body's awareness of where it is in space). Reformer Pilates can be adapted and modified to many different levels and can be a great way to prepare the body for mat work.
Pilates requires special equipment: Pilates can be done with minimal equipment. It isn't necessary to have a Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, or Ladder Barrel to do a workout. The mat workout can provide a total body workout without any additional equipment. Often times props like a Pilates ring, resistance band, or small ball can be added to enhance the workout and provide some creative new options.
Pilates requires flexibility: Many people think that they have to be flexible to do Pilates but that is not the case. The emphasis is placed on elongation of the muscles and with consistent practice the body will adapt and adjust to become more flexible. It is also helpful in rehabilitative settings where flexibility is often limited due to injury.
These common myths about Pilates are often perceived as barriers to trying out this amazing workout. Becoming aware of the benefits and overcoming the myths can open the doors to a whole new amazing workout! Check out this video about mat Pilates exercises and their modifications from the Kore Library: