Is Pilates for everyone?

If you're older, haven't exercised for some time or have health problems, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Pilates is no exception. Similarly, women who are pregnant should check with their health care providers before starting Pilates.

Pilates can be adapted to provide a gentle strength training and stability program, or it can be modified to give a seasoned athlete a challenging workout. If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to go slow at first and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.

Pilates may not be recommended or may need to be modified for individuals who have the following:

  • Unstable (labile) blood pressure
  • A risk of blood clots
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • A herniated disk

Because it's essential to maintain the correct form to get the most benefit — and to avoid injuries — beginners should start out under the supervision of an experienced Pilates instructor.

What to look for in a Pilates instructor

The Pilates Method Alliance offers referral services for certified instructors and provides Pilates instruction and certification. You can also check with local gyms or YMCAs in your area. Ask the following questions of any Pilates instructor you're considering:

  • Did the instructor complete a comprehensive training program that included a training apprenticeship?
  • Is the instructor able to adapt exercises for special needs, such as injuries and rehabilitation?

How does Pilates fit into a total fitness program?

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that healthy adults include aerobic exercise and strength training in their fitness programs, specifically:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week
  • Strength training exercises at least twice a week

Pilates can be a good strength training workout, but it isn't aerobic exercise. You'll need to supplement it with aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking, running, biking or swimming.

Aug. 18, 2016 See more In-depth