Ben Greenfield: 5 Pilates Myths

Posted: March 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm


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What do Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and many seven-foot-tall professional basketball players have in common? They all do Pilates. If you have no clue what Pilates is, or need a reminder, check out my article "What Is Pilates?"

Although I'm a fan of anything that helps you live an active, healthy lifestyle, there are plenty of myths and misconceptions floating around about Pilates, kind of like with yoga. Here are the five most popular Pilates myths:

Myth 1: Pilates Is a Good Way to Lose Weight

In the article "Does Yoga Burn Calories," you learn about several studies that have shown yoga to be relatively ineffective in directly burning calories or causing significant weight loss. While Pilates has definite benefits, its strongest suit is certainly not weight loss. A 2006 study found that body weight and body fat was not significantly affected in adult females using a regular Pilates routine, and a 2004 study found that Pilates does help improve flexibility, but does not significantly affect body composition, even after six months of training. So when it comes to pure calorie burning and fat loss, running on a treadmill, riding a bike or lifting weights will be more effective than Pilates.

But because Pilates does such a good job strengthening your core, reducing risk of injury and improving your flexibility, it will help keep you from getting sidelined with an injury -- which means you can work out more consistently. You may also be more likely to exercise in other ways, since you often find yourself visiting a gym or a health club to take Pilates class.

Myth 2: Pilates Is Only for Women

Because it does a good job strengthening lower abdominal and pelvic muscles that are important for a woman's childbearing, reproductive and urinary function, or because it doesn't involve heavy steel, grunting or large amounts of weight, Pilates is often perceived as a "women's only" activity.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Firstly, Pilates was invented by a man (Joseph Pilates). Secondly, plenty of male athletes (including yours truly) use Pilates moves as a perfect complement to weight training and cardio. Want more proof? How about Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, Hugh Grant and many other male athletes and celebrities? They use Pilates to maintain core strength, flexibility and function.

Myth 3: You Need Special Machines for Pilates

It's true that one type of Pilates workout requires the use of special machines -- those strange-looking contraptions with unusual names like the Reformer, the Cadillac and the Wunda chair. These collections of springs, bars, pulleys and straps can give you a productive workout, but they're not completely necessary, because there is another type of Pilates that is done on a simple mat.

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Ben Greenfield: 5 Pilates Myths

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Written by simmons |

March 26th, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Posted in Pilates