pilates workout

What started as a small studio in New York has now grown into a worldwide fitness phenomenon. As pilates and its popularity have grown, the myths and rumors about the entire practice have made their way down the line and, of course, distorted along the way. Let us school you about the practice of Pilates and attempt to answer the age-old question: is Pilates hard?

Joseph Pilates brought his namesake exercise to the United States in 1923 from Germany. Since its inception, Pilates has grown to incorporate different movements and equipment, such as the Reformer which was invented by Mr. Pilates himself. Throughout the years, Pilates has morphed into the classes that are offered in studios and gyms across the globe. Whether you’re taking one of these group classes, or joining virtually, you have probably tried to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Allow us to help.

Word On The Street (Pssst, Pilates Is Hard!)

Depending on who you ask, Pilates is either one of the hardest exercise classes you can take, or it’s a bit of a walk in the park. Of course, the rule of thumb is always don’t knock it until you try it, but if you’re trying to get a sense of how hard your first Pilates class will truly be, the street reviews are mixed.

There are several reasons for these mixed reviews, namely due to the availability of group classes and the variety of Pilates methods (if you want fun, check out JGTV!) Although Pilates has been in practice since the 1920s, it’s only recently come on line (so to speak and also actually online!). Local gyms and studios are starting to offer group classes, but most are introductory classes, which in comparison to some of the more advanced classes, are a bit of a walk in the park. 

So, those who have just started out on their Pilates journey and only had the chance to take the introductory level classes might say overall it’s an easy-ish exercise.

However, if you ask others what they think, some might say it’s the hardest workout they’ve ever done. That could be, in part, because of the muscles that are targeted throughout the common movements of Pilates

Pilates is about 1) control and 2) fluidity (these are actually only two of six commonly agreed upon Pilates Principles).  As your practice progresses, and more challenging exercises are introduced, your ability to control the movements and keep the workouts fluid greatly increases the difficulty level.

Mastering these unique bodyweight movements takes time, consistency, and practice.

Okay, But Is Pilates Hard, Really?

We are going to give you a frustrating answer here, you get out of Pilates what you put in. If you just stick to the introductory classes and don’t push yourself to increase your resistance, then, sure, Pilates is probably not the hardest workout you’ll ever do. But, if you challenge your body and create a consistent routine, Pilates will be a tough but effective form of exercise for you.

Like anything new, some elements of Pilates will seem hard at first. Below is a list of common challenges in Pilates that can be hard to overcome along with the benefits you’ll see if you stick to it. 

  • Soreness in muscles you didn’t even know you had = that balanced, toned muscle definition
  • That muscle shakiness you feel when you push yourself in Mat Pilates = stronger core muscles with longer time-under-tension endurance
  • Understanding the straps and springs of the Reformer = increased flexibility and mobility when you learn how to use them
  • Overcoming that first-timer anxiety when you walk into your first Pilates class = newfound strength, balance, and confidence as results from  a consistent routine
  • Previous injuries that hinder other lifestyle activities = a low-impact form of rehabilitation that will result in a stronger core and lower back 

Our biggest tip is to keep going. Keep showing up and putting in work. Pilates requires a mind-body connection more than your average gym workout. That shift is hard!

Eventually, it will begin to connect for you. Your body and mind will sync and adapt to the movements, and your strength AND flexibility will increase. Before you know it, you’ll be looking for ways to make the class even more challenging (ahem… have you tried a chair workout yet?!).

Getting Over The “This is Really Hard” Hump

Of course, showing up and staying with a Pilates routine is easier said than done. But, let us help you understand what it’s like to get over that initial “Holy glutes, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done!” hump.

Have you ever seen Legally Blonde? There’s a scene towards the beginning where Elle Woods and her ex-boyfriend, Warner, run into each other at Harvard, and Warner is stunned that he and Elle got into the same law school. Elle plays it cool and nonchalantly brushes off Warner’s disbelief that she took the time and did the work to get herself into the most prestigious law school in the country.

That is the feeling you will have when you’ve mastered Pilates. You will be telling your best friend or partner all about the great class you took and the advanced moves you are adding. Rather than doubting yourself or your strength, you will be confident in your newfound ability. Pilates? What, like, it’s hard?

Try Pilates For Yourself with John Garey 

Clearly, you’re just going to have to answer the “Is Plates hard?” question for yourself. If you’re looking for a fun and inviting place to try your first class, come join us at JGTV! We have several different online classes, challenges, and workouts that you can do with a friendly professional trainer in the comfort of your own home! 

We have classes designed for every level of Pilates, so whether you’re a newcomer or seasoned veteran, there will be a place for you, and we’ll be happy to have you. Work your glutes, core, and legs to a point you didn’t know you could reach and have a blast while doing it.

Full Circle

Don’t knock it until you try it. See? We’ve come full circle. Pilates is a great, effective workout designed for anybody at any fitness level, and you shouldn’t let the possibility of it being hard stop you from at least trying it. 

Maybe you’ll try it and it won’t be as hard as you thought. Or, maybe you’ll enjoy the challenge and want to push yourself even further. 

Either way, your body will thank you for moving it in a way that feels strong and powerful (after it’s done being sore, of course!).