Is Pilates Once A Week Enough?

Is Pilates Once A Week Enough?

We cram a lot into a 24-hour day. Between work, family, social life and general adult obligations and responsibilities, finding time to exercise can easily slide to the bottom of the to-do list. Because of this, clients often ask: how often should I be doing Pilates?

I get that. Time is precious. You don’t have enough of it, and you don’t want to waste it. During some seasons of our lives, we might have several hours a week to dedicate to keeping our bodies healthy. And during others, we might just have one or two, which leaves you wondering is doing Pilates once a week enough?

Before I answer that question, let’s talk about how often we should exercise in general, whether it’s Pilates or something else.

How often should you exercise?

What is Pilates? - ALIGN Pilates Studios

The general guidelines for adults from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are to engage in aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes a week and strength training two days a week. Aerobic exercise is anything that elevates your heart rate to a moderate level such as power walking or cycling. If you engage in more vigorous aerobic activity such as running, 75 minutes is the weekly recommendation in addition to two strength training sessions.

Strength training, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is anything that gets your muscles working harder than usual, such as lifting weights or bodyweight exercises like pushups and planks.

Any Pilates class would fall under the category of strength training because it uses resistance to train muscles, whether that’s on the mat with no equipment or using the reformer, light weights or other common Pilates equipment.

At ALIGN Pilates Studios, we offer classes that will also get your heart rate into the aerobic zone and beyond, such as our Burn, Jump and Bodhi Burn classes, so these classes fall under aerobic exercise and strength training.

According to these official guidelines, if Pilates is all you are doing for exercise, once a week isn’t ideal. You would need to add a few Pilates classes or other types of exercise to your routine to hit that target of 150 minutes plus strength training.


“To reap the full array of benefits that Pilates has to offer, two to three classes a week is ideal.”

Brooke Bowersock

Owner, Balanced Body Pilates Principal Educator


What is yoga? - ALIGN Pilates Studios - Austin, TX

How often should you do Pilates?

The question of how often you should do Pilates depends on your fitness goals, but most people who ask me this question at our studio are wondering, how often can I do Pilates and reap all the benefits?

Those benefits are:

  • Improved muscle tone and strengthening
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced back pain or other injury pain
  • Overall increased fitness

To reap the full array of benefits that Pilates has to offer (and there are many more than what I listed above!), two to three classes a week is ideal.

I suggest multiple times a week rather than just once a week because of the nature of Pilates. Pilates includes unique breath work and movement techniques. You can’t simply take one class and suddenly know how to do it perfectly. It takes time to build that type of muscle memory. The more often you take Pilates, the quicker that memory is built and the better it sticks, so you can ensure you’re doing Pilates correctly, staying safe while building strength.

While consistency is key in Pilates, you can and will see benefits relatively quickly. As Joseph Pilates famously said, “In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.”

So, if you’re new to Pilates, I suggest starting out with two classes per week. See how it feels and if Pilates feels like the right fitness modality for your body right now, then you can consider adding a class per week, maybe a different type of Pilates class to mix things up and keep things interesting. For example, at ALIGN, if you’ve been taking two Connect classes a week for a few months, consider adding a Flow or Burn class to work different muscle groups and experience Pilates in a new way.

After just a few weeks of taking Pilates consistently, you will see a difference in how you feel, in your posture, in your strength, in your sleep, in your energy. It’s amazing how quickly the benefits of Pilates start to show up, but doing classes consistently multiple times a week is key to reaping all these benefits and reaching your fitness goals.

If you’re in a particularly busy season of life where exercising more than once a week just isn’t feasible for you, that’s ok. That’s life. We all go through periods like this. In that case, do what you can and add a class here and there as time allows. As this fitness expert says, and I agree, “Some Pilates is better than no Pilates.”

One Week Unlimited Special at ALIGN Pilates Studios

Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios West

Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios East

ALIGN

How Pilates Can Benefit Your Mental Health

How Pilates Can Benefit Your Mental Health

When it comes to our mental health, research, doctors and experts all point to one simple, accessible intervention: exercise.

Exercise has been proven again and again to be beneficial for mental health by reducing anxiety and depression, releasing feel-good endorphins and boosting self-esteem. When we exercise, our blood flow increases, sending blood and oxygen to the brain. This keeps our minds and nervous system healthy and balanced.

As far as what type of exercise is best, according to research, every type — aerobic, anaerobic, strength training, etc. — can be beneficial, but an exercise like Pilates provides an array of mental health benefits due to its focus on mindful movements and breathing.

How does Pilates benefit mental health?

What is Pilates? - ALIGN Pilates Studios

Practicing Pilates regularly will benefit your mental health in a number of ways, from increasing relaxation to boosting your mood. Below are just a few examples of how Pilates trains not only the body but the mind so that you can grow more emotionally resilient, feel calmer and take steps toward feeling like the best version of yourself.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware. This practice has been proven to reduce stress, improve mood and help with emotional regulation. Pilates stresses mindful movements. Unlike running or other exercises you can perform on autopilot, Pilates requires focus and attention. Each movement is dependent on your core and proper positioning and alignment, so there is less opportunity for your mind to drift or ruminate. You have to be present in the moment, allowing you to exercise your mind as well as your body, reducing stress and training your brain to be mindful, not only during class but in other areas of your life.


“The deeper we breathe, the better we feel.”

Brooke Bowersock

Balanced Body Pilates Principal Educator


Breathing

As one of the six fundamental Pilates principles, breathing is foundational to Pilates as well as our well-being. As Balanced Body certified Pilates teacher, Anastasiya Goers says, “Our emotions and breathing are closely connected….Learning to control your breathing is probably the biggest benefit of Pilates since many of us are ‘lazy-breathers.'”

Goers cites a study that found we can chance how we feel by changing our breathing. Deep belly breathing, the type we do in Pilates during every class, calms the amygdala and gets us out of fight-or-flight mode, the hormonal response we have to stress. The deeper we breathe, the better we feel.

One Week Unlimited Special at ALIGN Pilates Studios

Endorphins

You’ve probably heard about endorphins — the feel-good hormones released during exercise. Pilates stimulates the production of endorphins in the brain, giving you what is often referred to as “the runner’s high.” Any aerobic, including Pilates, will release endorphins, making you feel good and want to come back for more.

Muscle release

Emotions don’t only affect our brains; they affect our entire bodies. In fact, research shows that we store emotions and trauma in parts of the body. For example, many of us hold difficult feelings and emotions in our hips. When we stretch or massage that area of the body, it helps us release that tension caused by stored emotion.

According to this therapist, in addition to our hips, we may store emotions like anger in our lower back and anxiety in our shoulders. Releasing these areas of the body through exercises like Pilates can help release this stored emotion and stress, allowing us to work through our anxieties.

Sometimes the best thing to do for our mental health is get out of our heads and into our bodies. Doing this several times a week during a Pilates class will help you release all of the built-up tension and emotion that’s taking up residence in your body.

What is yoga? - ALIGN Pilates Studios - Austin, TX

Increased energy

When you’re depressed, anxious or overwhelmed, the first thing to go is your energy. This loss of energy can create a negative mental loop: the worse your mood, the more tired you feel. The more tired you feel the less motivated you are to do the things you know will make you feel better (like exercise).

Pilates is a great way to boost your energy. This study looked at the effect of Pilates on women who were experiencing postpartum fatigue. Postpartum women who did at-home Pilates five times a week for eight weeks had less general, mental and physical fatigue than women who did not do Pilates.

If you’re needing a mental and physical energy boost, Pilates is a perfect option. You may feel tired or resistant to movement for the first five or ten minutes of class, but once you get past that hump, you will feel empowered and energized!

Self-acceptance

Pilates is an exercise for everybody. It is accessible no matter your previous exercise experience or current level of fitness. It works with you where you are, and it grows with you, so you can continue to challenge yourself without feeling like you’re falling short or not as strong as the next person in class.

Goer points out that in a world that constantly makes us feel like we’re not enough, Pilates does the opposite. It accepts you for who you are. This, she says, can do wonders for your self-esteem, helping you accept who and where you are right now rather than feeling like you are constantly falling behind.

There is no doubt that exercise is one of the best antidotes to anxiety and depression. The mindful yet rigorous movements of Pilates, its focus on the breath and its accessibility make it the ideal fitness modality if you need a mental boost or simply want to maintain your mental health as you build physical strength and endurance.


Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios West

Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios East

ALIGN

Pilates vs Yoga: Which Is Right for You?

Pilates vs Yoga: Which Is Right for You?

Pilates vs Yoga: Which Is Right for You?

Let’s say you’re a runner. You’ve been running for years. You’ve run marathons, 5Ks, and everything in between. You love running but your knees are taking a beating. After so many years, they’re not holding up like they used to. Your friends start recommending other exercises to try. The two that keep coming up? Yoga and Pilates.

Of course you’ve heard of them. Maybe you’ve done some YouTube yoga and you have a friend who takes that PiYo (Pilates+yoga) class down the road. So, are Pilates and yoga the same? Do they work the same muscles? Follow the same routine?

When it comes to Pilates and yoga, there can be a lot of confusion. People tend to throw both fitness modalities under the same umbrella, and understandably so. They are both low-impact. They are both strengthening exercises. You can do them barefoot on a mat. But just because they have similarities doesn’t mean yoga and Pilates are the same.

Pilates and yoga have different histories and backgrounds, they use different types of movement, and they offer different results for the mind and body. Depending on where you are in your fitness journey, one, or both, might be right for you.

What is Pilates?

What is Pilates? - ALIGN Pilates Studios

Pilates was founded by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates in the early twentieth century. Growing up, Joseph suffered from several illnesses and dedicated his life to improving his health. His quest led him to gymnastics, martial arts, weight lifting and…yoga. He used what he learned from various fitness modalities to create what would become present-day Pilates: a form of exercise that focuses on using the core to make intentional movements that strengthen the entire body.

Some of Joseph Pilates’ first students were World War I veterans recovering from injuries. He later taught professional dancers in New York City where he opened the first Pilates studio.

There are several different types of Pilates available today, the two most popular being mat Pilates and reformer Pilates. Joseph Pilates invented the reformer—a type of platform on wheels—for his students who needed help achieving the mat exercises. He later created several other pieces of equipment like the Cadillac (also known as the trapeze table), the chair, spine corrector and ladder barrel to make Pilates more accessible and scalable for students at all levels. At Align West, we teach reformer Pilates in a variety of formats. At Align East, where we host our teacher training program, we have every piece of original Pilates equipment so our teachers can be well-versed in whatever equipment would help their students most.

Mat Pilates uses the basic moves of Pilates but without the reformer and only a few pieces of basic equipment or no equipment.

Whether doing reformer Pilates or mat Pilates, you’ll likely see numerous benefits with regular practice including:

  • muscle strengthening and toning
  • increased flexibility
  • decreased joint pain
  • improvement in balance

Pilates is often recommended for low back or hip pain and is a trusted pre- and post-natal exercise for women looking to maintain and rebuild strength in their core and pelvic floor.


Pilates changed my life completely. Being opened up to this world gave me a head start into health and wellness.”

Brooke Bowersock

Balanced Body Pilates Principal Educator


What is yoga? - ALIGN Pilates Studios - Austin, TX

What is Yoga?

While Pilates was created as a way to build physical strength, yoga has a more spiritual origin.

Originating in ancient India, yoga has associations with Hinduism and Buddhism reaching as far back as 3,000 years ago. In its original form, yoga was an exercise of the mind, focusing on meditation and helping practitioners detach from suffering. Today, the Western yoga we most often practice emphasizes meditation and breathwork but also focuses on physical strength and flexibility.

In the U.S., studios offer various types of yoga, the most popular being vinyasa, hatha and ashtanga. Any yoga class will move you through a series of poses held for extended periods or moved through quickly depending on the type of class you’re taking. Each pose serves a different purpose, but the focus remains on the breath and the present moment, making it a meditative exercise working the mind and body.

Benefits of yoga include:

  • increased flexibility
  • muscles strengthening
  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • reduced joint pain

Yoga is also beneficial as a prenatal exercise and has been proven to help reduce back pain in pregnant women and help with labor and delivery.

One Week Unlimited Special at ALIGN Pilates Studios

How do I know which one is right for me?

When choosing between yoga and Pilates (though you can always do both if you have the time!), think about your goals. Are you looking to improve your mental health? Increase strength? Rehab an injury?

For injuries, Pilates is probably the place to start as it includes more physical therapy-type moves and can easily be scaled and modified.

While both exercises have been proven to better mental health, yoga will introduce you to meditation and other mindfulness exercises.

Yoga and Pilates both increase strength, but Pilates is more focused on increasing physical strength, starting with the core that ultimately supports the entire body.

If you’re pregnant or recently gave birth, yoga and Pilates can be easily modified to support your changing body or help you rebuild strength after birth. Pilates is especially helpful for restoring core and pelvic floor strength after birth while yoga provides a safe way for women to maintain strength and flexibility while pregnant.

There is a time and place for both exercises. It just depends on what your mind and body need.

In addition to your fitness goals, consider the following when trying to decide which exercise is best for you right now:

Accessibility

What studios are close by? Which ones offer class times that work for your schedule? If you’re interested in both types of exercise, let time and proximity decide for you.

Community

Do your friends take yoga or Pilates? Or are there studios that offer a more communal environment? We are much more likely to work out and keep working out if we have support, so ask a friend if you can tag along to her next class.

Enjoyability

What sounds like the most fun to you? If you’re not sure, try both classes to see which one you enjoy more. When it comes to fitness, whatever you enjoy the most you will sustain the longest. Doing a workout simply because it burns the most calories isn’t as sustainable as an exercise you actually enjoy doing. Choose the class that is the most fun for you or makes you feel the best and you’ll find yourself doing it for years to come.

Whatever you decide to do, know that Pilates and yoga can be done at any age. They are exercises that adapt to you and your body as you get older, stronger and more flexible. All movement is good movement. Do what feels best for your mind and body right now.


Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios West

Close
Get Directions
'; ';
Options hide options
Print Reset
Fetching directions...

ALIGN Pilates Studios East

ALIGN