Pilates for Overweight and Plus Size People

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If you are overweight or plus size, exercise can be intimidating, and an exercise class even more so. Add to that the reputation Pilates has for creating lean bodies, and you might think everyone in a Pilates class will be agile, toned, and slim, and you won't fit in.

Happily, that's just one of the myths about Pilates. Pilates is actually well-suited for plus-size people. And it offers a variety of benefits.

Benefits of Pilates if You Are Plus-Size

People of all sizes, shapes, and ages can take Pilates classes. They are there, as you would be, to take advantage of the many benefits of Pilates.

  • Increases the strength and coordination of the muscles of the core of the body. These are the muscles that support the spine and organs.
  • Improves alignment and posture, relieving stress on the joints and muscles.
  • Reduces back pain which can be a side effect of carrying extra weight.
  • Increased flexibility so that your range of motion and general fitness can improve.
  • Builds muscle, helping to support your joints and reduce the risks of pain and injury.
  • Balance improves through Pilates which can help reduce the chances of falls and increases the ability to perform other exercises and daily functions.

Why Pilates is Well-Suited for Plus-Size People

Pilates is a great exercise for people who are overweight or plus-size. It's a low-impact exercise format that doesn't require a high level of cardiovascular or muscular fitness to get started. As long as you make necessary adjustments to suit your starting point, you should find Pilates an accessible and comfortable experience.

Exercises Are Low-Impact

The exercises are done on a mat or various types of Pilates equipment. Either way, mat or equipment, Pilates exercises are generally done lying down, sitting, and sometimes kneeling. There is no jumping or high-impact load bearing on the joints.

These positions make Pilates exercises well-suited for larger people who may not be comfortable standing for long periods. They may also be better suited than exercise systems that require a lot of shifts of weight.

Exercises Are Adaptable

In addition, You can modify pilates exercises for different levels and physical needs. An experienced instructor will adjust mat exercises and/or the equipment set-up to help you gradually improve strength and endurance, working your way into Pilates exercises.

Pilates Equipment is Sturdy

If you are concerned about your size with regard to Pilates equipment like the reformer, tower, or Pilates chair, don't be. Professional Pilates equipment is very sturdy. We're talking heavy-duty wood, metal, strong springs, leather straps.

Pilates equipment will hold you, even if it is scary-looking. This is not necessarily true of Pilates equipment made for home use. And you may find a Pilates studio that has not invested in good equipment, but that would be a rare instance.

How to Get Started

A Pilates studio should be a place where you feel welcome. You can try out several studios or online options to see which one is the best fit for you. Look for studios with professionals that know how to assist beginners and give instructions for modifications to exercises, should you need them.

If you are significantly overweight or extra tall, you might want to start with a private lesson. This will enable your instructor to find the best modifications and props for you. It will also help the instructor suggest classes and let you get comfortable with the exercises and equipment.

Pulling in Your Abs

You are going to be hearing a lot about pulling your abdominal muscles in or scooping your abs. If you have extra weight in your midsection that is not going to look very dramatic. That's OK. Looks are not the point. You will be able to feel it and an experienced instructor will recognize the effects of your work as it is reflected in your alignment and how you are moving in an exercise.

What To Wear

Pilates is not hard to dress for. T-shirts and sweats are fine as long as they allow the instructor to see your body enough to correct potential form issues. Ideal clothing for Pilates includes:

  • Leggings or shorts that can be moved in freely without thick waistbands that can dig into the skin
  • T-shirts or tank tops that aren't too baggy or loose that they get caught during movements
  • Grippy socks
  • Lightweight, breathable clothing

A Word From Verywell

Pilates can be a great way to build strength, and the low-impact nature of the exercises makes them a great choice for people who are overweight or plus-size. Despite our national obsession with weight loss, not every large person wants to lose weight or even needs to lose weight. However, Pilates is very supportive of weight loss. For the best weight loss results, combine Pilates with cardio exercise and an appropriate weight loss diet.

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