What is Pilates Workout? Your Ultimate Guide


Let’s explore what does Pilates mean, and how the Pilates workout is done? its types, and its advantages and disadvantages. We have also included which celebrities do Pilates so that you know how famous Pilates is among actors and athletes. This article also has Pilates types, pros and cons, images, videos, and links to good resource pages, so that you get a detailed understanding of Pilates workouts.

Pilates Meaning and Definition

What is Pilates? Pilates means a specialized type of exercise to gain mindfulness, toned muscles, flexibility, and pain relief in some physical issues. It is performed on a mat or certain types of machines called “reformers”. It is also known as Contrology.

The main principle of Pilates is to let the mind control the muscles. So, Pilates needs to be performed with an awareness of each body movement and concentration on the breaths.  

Pilates strengthens the “core”, which includes muscles in the body’s middle area that includes the spine, glutes, hips, shoulder, abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and lower back.

There are 6 main principles of Pilates. 1) Breathing 2) Concentration 3) Centring 4) Control 5) Precision 6) Flow

Quick facts about Pilates

  • Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in 1929 and named it Contrology.
  • During the first world war, Joseph helped treat injured soldiers and elderly people in a hospital, where he attached springs and strings to hospital beds for physical therapy. Patients taking rehab treatment using such technic showed faster recovery. This is how the first reformer was invented.
  • He started a Pilates studio in New York for dancers and athletes. Later on, Contrology gained popularity with the “Pilates” name and became a household name.

What Is Pilates Workout? Any exercise done using original Contrology’s 6 core principles is called a Pilates workout. They can be bifurcated into two main methods. 1) Pilates with Machines: Pilates workouts can be done on some specialized machines called “reformers”. 2) Mat Pilates: Exercises are done on a mat on the floor (like yoga). No specialized equipment is needed.

Let’s explore how Pilates workout is done in both ways.

Types of Machines Used in Reformer Pilates Workout

There are many types of Pilates machines available in the market. Some of them are invented by Joseph Pilates himself and others are modified versions made by various Pilates manufacturers.

Check out this link if you want to explore this topic further: Pilates with machines | What is reformer Pilates                                    

These are the four popular pieces of equipment used in Pilates reformer exercises.

1) Classic Reformer

It is a big machine with springs and pulleys attached to a bed frame with a moving carriage. Here’s how it looks.

Video source: YouTube

This equipment is expensive and space-consuming. It is suitable for Pilates studios and gyms only and not for home.

2) Wunda Chair

It is a box with a spongy surface and a pedal on one side attached with springs. There are many innovative types of Pilates workout can be done using Wunda chairs. Here’s how it looks.   

Video source: YouTube

3) Pilates Cadillac

Pilates Cadillac looks like a bed with ropes, springs, and pulleys. This is how a Pilates Cadillac looks like.

what is Pilates Cadillac
An image of Pilates Cadillac

Image source: Peakpilates.com

4)      Pilates Ladder Barrel

As the name suggests, this Pilates equipment has a ladder and a half-barrel-looking structure. It is highly beneficial for stretching and balance-related workouts.

what is  Pilates Ladder Barrel
How to do Pilates workout with Ladder Barrel

Image source: Pilates.com

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is simple floor Pilates exercises done on a mat. The mat is thicker and larger than a yoga mat. Nowadays there are numerous types of Pilates workouts performed on the mat depending upon the instructors’ creativity and users’ requirements. Here are some specific methods popular for mat Pilates.

1) Classic Mat Pilates

The original mat Pilates method was developed by Joseph Pilates before a century. It focuses on the transition of Pilates exercises from one to another seamlessly. It starts with easy Pilates workout and then moves forward with more complicated ones, giving the body chance to adapt and flow with workout sequences.

Here’s an example of the classic mat Pilates excercises with 34 sequences.

2)  POP Pilates

It is one of the contemporary types of Pilates that merged dancing movements into Pilates exercises. Here, the steps are choreographed in a way that let you flow from one exercise to another flawlessly. It is developed by Casey Ho.

Check out this link to explore POP Pilates in detail: What is POP Pilates?

3) Winsor Pilates

This type of mat Pilates was developed by Mary Winsor. It contains 20 minutes long 13 systematically breathing and physical exercises. It targets the belly area of the body. Winsor pilates’s 20-minute workout is claimed to help losing weight by improving metabolism.

Here’s how Winsor Pilates workout is performed.


These are just some examples of Pilates workouts. There are many other Pilates types like STOTT Pilates, Aerial Pilates, hybrid Pilates, clinical Pilates, and more.  Check out this article to know more: 7 types of Pilate methods

Pilates Prices

Pilates classes range from $20 to $75 per session. Mat Pilates classes are comparatively cheaper and range between $20 to $40 per group session. Because Reformers are expensive and space-consuming, reformer Pilates sessions range from $35 to $75 per one-hour exercise. A monthly or yearly subscription can get you a better deal if you want to continue Pilates for a longer time. Monthly Pilates packages start from $250 and go up to $550.

How to Start Pilates Workout?

Now that you know what is Pilates workout, let’s address the basic question. How to start practicing Pilates? Get a Pilates mat and start practicing Pilates at home. Here are some good basic Pilates videos to begin with.

Free online Pilates workout resources for beginners

Not sure whether you want to commit to Pilates? How about starting with free online resources and then deciding whether to go for paid Pilates training?

  1. 15-Minute Pilates for Beginners Workout

It is like a warm-up session with basic Pilates exercises.

  • 20 Minutes Mat Pilates

Once you complete the above video, you can move forward with is one. It is one step advanced Pilates workout practice.

  • 25 Minutes Full Body Pilates Workout

Now that your body got some practice and is comfortable with basic Pilates moves, you can start practicing it for 25 minutes following this video.

Virtual Pilates Workout Training

Here are some popular virtual Pilates training classes.

  1. POP Pilates: Here is a long list of virtual POP instructors. Prices vary.
  2. Studio Sweat On Demand: $20/month. Only recorded Pilates classes.
  3. Pilates Anytime: 500+ Pilates video streaming for $18/month.
  4. Isa Welly: Level 1 Pilates Course. £44
  5. Ivory Howard: Live personal Pilates training sessions. $998 for a complete four-week program.

If you want to start Pilates classes in your nearby area, make sure you do proper research in terms of prices and instructors’ reviews.

Celebrities Who Do Pilates

One of the reasons behind Pilates’s massive popularity is that it is endorsed by many celebrities. Some of them do it on a regular basis while others do Pilates for recovery from an injury or health condition. Here is the list of some celebrities that do Pilates.

  • Jenifer Aniston
  • Wendy Williams
  • Lady Gaga
  • Miley Cyrus
  • Sylvester Stallone
  • Sandra Bullock.
  • Amanda Seyfried
  • LeBron James
  • Anna Faris
  • Lucy Liu
  • David Beckham
  • Pink
  • Madonna
  • Reese Witherspoon

Here’s the detailed list: Which celebrities do Pilates?

What Is Pilates Good For? 5 Main Benefits of Pilates Workout

While it is much clearer by now what is Pilates workout and how it is done, let’s understand why it is so popular. Here are some key Pilates benefits.

1) Strengthens the core muscles

These core muscles, known as “powerhouse”, are the muscles located in the central part of the body (shown in the image below). They are targeted in Pilates exercises, making them stronger and improving their endurance. Regular Pilates workout also helps you to reduce back pain, hip ache, and abdominal pain. When your core muscles are stronger, your posture and balance will automatically improve.

Pilates strengthens core muscles, pilates benefit core
An image showing which core muscles are strengthened by practicing Pilates.

Image source: Nuvovivo.com

2) Helps dealing with some physical issues and aches

Pilates is often recommended for rehabilitation after surgery, accidents, or recovery after pregnancy. A contemporary branch of Pilates, clinical Pilates, merged concepts of physiotherapy with Pilates and helps patients to cure neck pain, back pain, and other types of chronic pain. For example, Lady Gaga does Pilates to deal with the pain of Fibromyalgia.

3) Boosts energy level

Pilates is not a heavy high-intensity exercise that makes you feel exhausted. On the contrary, it is a low-impact exercise that will increase your energy level and make you feel fresh.

4) Improves mental health

As we mentioned earlier, the foundation idea of Pilates is to let your mind control the muscles. Mindfulness while working out and conscious breathing are highly important for Pilates. So, if it is done correctly, Pilates workout helps to gain a higher level of awareness, reduce stress, improve coordination, correct the sleeping cycle, and boost concentration.

5) Increases flexibility

Most Pilates exercises rely heavily on stretching, which helps your body to be more flexible.

Disadvantages of Pilates Workout

Pilates doesn’t have many disadvantages or side effects as it is a low-impact type of exercise. However, before starting Pilates, you should be aware of these important points.

1) Pilates alone is not sufficient

Along with Pilates, you need to do cardio and other types of exercises to get health benefits. If you want to lose weight, other types of exercise like cardio, swimming, running, Zumba, etc. are more effective than Pilates. In the same way, for bodybuilding, you can’t rely 100% on Pilates workouts and still need to do heavy weightlifting and muscle-building high-intensity workout. Also, it takes a long time to see Pilates results while other types of exercises produce quicker results.

If you’re planning to start Pilates for rehab or to deal with physical or mental issues, don’t start it without an expert’s guidance. These types of specialized Pilates workouts are meticulously designed by certified professionals based on each person’s different requirements. If you just begin Pilates by watching online videos, it might not be effective to treat health issues.

3) Pilates is expensive

Compare to other types of exercises Pilates are expensive. Reformers are costlier than other gym equipment and so as being Pilates instructors, which takes rigorous training and expensive certificates. Plus, it has a reputation as a “celebrities’ workout”, which gives it more “exclusive” vibes. That’s why Pilates classes and training are always more expensive than other regular types of exercises.

4) Pilates can result in temporary body aches

It is true for any new type of exercise. But if you start Pilates rigorously thinking that it is just a low-impact workout, it can result in temporary body pain initially. That’s why most Pilates studios offer Pilates sessions two to three days a week only to give the body sufficient time to recover. 

Is Pilates Right for Me?

Pilates is suitable for anyone and everyone. People of all fitness levels, ages, sizes, shapes, and lifestyles can do Pilates workouts. It is recommended for

  • People with desk jobs which a sedentary lifestyle
  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • Athletes
  • Sportspersons looking for sport-specific training
  • Patients in rehab
  • Someone dealing with back pain and abdomen pain
  • People targeting to increase muscle strength and endurance
  • Elderly people who want to improve their coordination and balance
  • Someone looking for a pre/postnatal fitness

Whether you are an older adult looking to add a new form of exercise to your daily routine or a fitness freak, this exercise has something for everyone. Pilates exercises can be modified to meet individual needs.

Free Booking and Scheduling Software for Pilates Classes

If you are planning to be a Pilates instructor or start your own studio, you would need software to handle the booking and other backend admin work.

Booking: Clients can check the class schedules, prices, and membership programs to book online. Appointments: An appointment software if you’re providing a 1:1 training session online, in-studio, or at home.

Payment processing: facilitates the clients to pay online.

CRM: To store customers’ information, contact details, payment card data, membership types, etc.

Yottled is one of the best Pilates management software that includes everything. It is free for business and charges a tiny convenience fee of $0.99 to your clients when they checkout.  

Final Words on What is Pilates Workout

Whether you are looking to tone muscles, get rid of aches in your body, or reduce stress, Pilates will definitely have a positive effect on your overall body and life.  Pilates workout is basically a low-impact exercise that strengthens the core, improves balance, and makes you feel energetic. You can either follow videos and practice Pilates at home or join a Pilates studio or a gym where trained Pilates instructors will guide you as per your body’s requirement and fitness level.

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Medha Mehta

Medha Mehta

Medha is a Sr. content marketing manager at Yottled. She is passionate about writing, SEO, and digital marketing. She's a tech and cybersecurity enthusiast.

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