"Will Pilates help me lose weight?" Hmmmm. THAT is a loaded question. Many Pilates instructors have faced this question from clients, and surely provided a wide range of answers.
I've always been in the camp of offering, "Well, that depends," trying to assess this person's life and all the influences in it that pertain to the clinging or shedding of adipose tissue, then delivering some modicum of sense as to how Pilates fits into that complicated matrix. Not only that, but consider that it is entirely possible to transform your shape, as well as your mind-body relationship, and see no change on the scale. So we must also question what measure is being employed to gauge satisfaction.
That's why I loved seeing this short, succinct posting by personal trainer and yoga instructor Sadie Chanlett-Avery
on the promise of weight loss with exercise in general:
"Working in fitness I constantly hear claims about weight loss and promises to change your body. As a personal trainer I will never sell the possibility of weight loss. Let me explain why…I’m unable to:
• Diagnose sleep, hormonal, or food sensitivities
that can stagnate a metabolism.
• Control your genetic expression.
• Manage your behavior in our obeso-genic environment. I’m unwilling to:
• Prescribe a one-size-fits-all diet. Having studied nutrition in graduate school, I don’t believe in them.
• Lead punishing, unsustainable workouts for short-term results.
• Perpetuate our culture’s ubiquitous, unrealistic, and homogenized image of a fit body.
• Be an accomplice to your insecurities. You may not need to lose weight or change your body.
• Blame you if the plan that I suggested fails. I’ll promise to:
• Teach you to move gracefully and efficiently.
• Safely push your cardiovascular capacities.
• Help you get stronger and more flexible.
• Educate you to take ownership of your exercise program.
• Celebrate your accomplishments.
• Address and prevent injuries.
• Inspire you to get out of your comfort zone.
• Have fun while we sweat.
• Foster mindful movement.
If we introspect while we move, we get to know ourselves more clearly. We will know when to rest, when to exert and how to choose more optimal foods. I promise our work will make you healthier but I have no idea if it will make you thin."
Thanks to Sadie for painting the bigger picture with great skill and perspective.
You can read more about Sadie and her thoughts at Active Body Still Mind.