Is Pilates for everyone?

If you are older than age 40, 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 a challenging workout for seasoned athletes.

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 Guild offers referral services for certified instructors and provides Pilates instruction and certification. Its certification program includes classroom instruction and experiential training. Participants must complete a 600-hour apprenticeship, during which they observe and practice Pilates, assist a certified instructor, teach under direct supervision and pass a certifying examination.

To find a certified instructor in your area, check with local gyms or YMCAs. Ask the following questions of any Pilates instructor you're considering:

  • Did the instructor complete a comprehensive training program that included a training apprenticeship?
  • How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
  • Is the instructor able to adapt exercise for special needs, such as injuries and rehabilitation?

How does Pilates fit into a total fitness program?

If you're a healthy adult, your weekly exercise routine should include:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity — or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity
  • 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.

Feb. 05, 2014 See more In-depth