Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss?

Is Pilates Good for Weight Loss?

The research on exercise is clear: it’s good for you. Very good for you. Exercise has been proven to boost the immune system, decrease stress, improve joint pain and, of course, help you lose weight.

This last benefit—weight loss—is often the gateway motivation for exercise, the thing that gets people through the door. (It’s often not what keeps someone exercising long-term but more on that later.)

If you’re looking to lose weight, you might be wondering, is Pilates good for weight loss? The short answer? Yes, it is. But not in the way you might think.

Pilates good for weight loss

What is Pilates? - ALIGN Pilates Studios

When it comes to weight loss, many of us are searching for the magic bullet or one-time fix—something that will make us lose weight and keep it off for good.

But this isn’t how the body works.

Weight loss is a formula: calories in – calories burned = weight lost, gained, or maintained. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. This is known as a “calorie deficit.”

While Pilates does not burn as many calories as higher aerobic exercises like running or swimming, Pilates does burn a significant amount of calories, depending on what type of class you’re doing. The types of classes we teach at Align increase your heart rate, get you sweating and will make your muscles sore—in a good way! This is what you want to look for in a Pilates class to ensure you’re burning enough calories to contribute to your calorie deficit.

But to stay in a calorie deficit, you’ll want to do more than Pilates. You will need to watch your diet and consider other factors such as sleep, genetics, lifestyle and environment, which can all contribute to your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how many calories you burn while at rest aka sitting on the couch doing nothing.

That said, according to recent research Pilates can be incredibly helpful for your weight loss journey.

A 2021 study found significant weight loss benefits from practicing Pilates for those who are overweight or obese. Pilates dramatically reduced body weight, body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentages.

A 2017 study found that practicing Pilates for eight weeks could result in weight loss, a lower BMI, a more toned waist and a decrease in abdominal and hip circumference for overweight and obese women age 30-50.

In addition to burning calories, Pilates provides other benefits that can contribute to weight loss:

Muscle toning and strengthening

Pilates is a strengthening workout that uses your core as the foundation for every exercise while working the entire body. This results in increased muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your BMR. So working on strengthening your body will allow you to burn more calories throughout the day even when you’re not working out.

Pilates also tones your core in a way that can make your middle appear firmer, even if you haven’t lost any weight yet.

“Weight loss is a benefit of Pilates, but it’s only one of them.”

Brooke Bowersock

Balanced Body Pilates Principal Educator


Pilates’ focus on the breath can also contribute to weight loss. Pilates encourages deep breathing to help properly engage the core. Deep belly breathing has been linked to reduced stress, and reducing stress can help you lose weight (while heightened stress can lead to gain weight).

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Protection from injury

Nothing will cramp your exercise routine like an injury. Regular Pilates can help decrease your risk of injury by strengthening and toning the muscles most prone to injury, like your back, and muscles that help protect you from getting injured, like your core. Pilates can also help you rehab an injury, getting you back to your exercise routine sooner and back on track to losing weight.


As this article points out, Pilates encourages mindful movement, focusing on each move and exercise for extended periods of time. This can help you be more mindful in other areas of your life, improving stress and helping you tune into your hunger and fullness cues. Being aware of hunger and fullness can keep you from mindlessly eating more than you need to while helping you eat enough to stay energized throughout the day.

All in all, Pilates can be an effective part of your overall weight-loss strategy in addition to a healthy diet that will keep you in a calorie deficit and lifestyle changes that will reduce stress.

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

More than Weight Loss

While we support anyone who wants to try Pilates, no matter their reason, we believe Pilates is about so much more than weight loss. As we mentioned above, weight loss will often get people through the door but it’s not what makes them stay. What does?

The numerous other benefits of Pilates like:

  • A better mood and improved mental health. (Hello, endorphins!)
  • A sense of community with others at the studio.
  • The empowering feeling of getting stronger.
  • Realizing you’re capable of more than you thought when you master that move you could hardly do during your first class.
  • Better posture.
  • Increased flexibility.
  • Being able to get up off the ground more easily and generally move through life feeling better and stronger.

Weight loss is a benefit of Pilates, but it’s only one of them. Our hope for every client is that they can experience the full impact of Pilates and its ability to change not only their bodies but their minds and lives too.

To learn more about ALIGN Pilates Studios and our classes and teacher training, visit our Teacher Training page.

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