When people find out I teach Pilates, I usually get two questions. The first question is usually “What is that? Is it like yoga?” The second question is “Will it help me lose weight?” While I am never surprised by the question, I am often dismayed at the idea that movement isn’t as connected to the quality of life as it is to ‘burning calories.’ How can we shift the conversation from weight loss to the benefits of Pilates without discouraging people from trying it?
Weight loss is an extremely touchy subject and, unfortunately, seems to dominate the health and wellness conversation. In this time of what has been deemed ‘quarantine pounds,’ there seems to be a desperation to not only go back to ‘normal’ but to regain the bodies we once had or get to the body we’ve always wanted.
It is possible, however, that we will never get back to the same body because we are not the same people.
Add in things like sleep, genetics, diet/food sensitivities, and consistency in our workouts and there is suddenly a million-piece puzzle to solve. Even the best fitness protocol can’t address all of these issues. That does not mean Pilates is not worth pursuing.
This can be a hard sell when people are only focused on weight loss.
When clients have missed sessions for a while (usually after a holiday or a vacation), I am often greeted with the following phrase, “I need you to kill me today.” That statement is usually followed by how much they ate and/or drank and how they did not exercise while away. How do we as teachers help guide clients back to a place of balance?
What we can do is continue to offer a safe, welcoming environment in which our clients can grow in their practice. After all, strength, coordination, balance, and mobility will outlast any “quick fix” weight loss plan.
As leaders in this industry, what we say and do counts. We can continue to present Pilates with all of its benefits as well as a way to not only have fun while you sweat (because nobody said you wouldn’t sweat) but also to celebrate the beauty of arriving at a place of body awareness and the beauty of the practice itself.
As we go into a new year of new access and new possibilities, may we always remember that Pilates is a system to help improve our lives over time. While it can be a tool in the quest for weight loss, it is so much more than that and we should never lose sight of that.