Picture of Pilates class overlaid by words how many calories does pilates burn
14 Dec

Pilates Workouts to Burn Holiday Calories

How many calories does Pilates burn?

It’s cold in Chicago and holiday parties are in full swing. In the spirit of the season you aren’t going to pass up every cheese plate and cookie that comes your way, but you want to do some damage control at the gym. When you take a break from the festivities and drop by our Evanston Pilates studio, you might be wondering: how many calories does Pilates burn?

The answer is complicated. Although there are many fitness calculators online that can give you an approximation, it takes a bit of work to understand the actual science behind the numbers. Once you do, you’ll have a good idea of how many calories you’re burning as you power through that final set of hundreds.

The intensity of your Pilates workout matters

Many of the exercises in Pilates use your own body for resistance. That means the intensity of the workout will depend on your weight and height. It is harder to assume the correct form when there is more resistance, so people who are taller and heavier will burn more calories. That’s why men likely burn more calories than women during Pilates classes.

Unsurprisingly, advanced Pilates students burn calories more quickly. In 2005, Michele Olson, PhD, and Carrie Myers Smith published a study they conducted to determine how many calories Pilates burns. According to their results, beginning students burn 4.0 Kcal/Minute, while intermediate and advanced students burn 6.0 and 7.5 Kcal/minute respectively. During a 60-minute Pilates session an advanced student burns an impressive 450 calories!

Like most other types of exercise, even though your Pilates workout burns calories, it takes commitment and consistency to see results. Based on their calculations, Olson and Smith concluded that to burn enough calories to lose or maintain weight, someone would have to do an intermediate or advanced Pilates workout for 45-60 minutes at least 4 days a week.

Building endurance, strength and flexibility

Of course, just because you won’t be burning calories like an intermediate or advanced student, it doesn’t mean that a beginning Pilates class won’t help you reach your fitness goals. Beginning Pilates students strengthen their core muscles and improve their flexibility and form. Most importantly, they are pushing the limits of what their bodies can do right now.

In addition, by developing a stronger core in your beginning Pilates class, you make the rest of your workout routine more effective. With that strong core you can run faster, do more lunges, or spend more time in your garden. That’s why you shouldn’t just ask how many calories does Pilates burn. Whatever your fitness goals are, healthy movement starts with powerful abdominal muscles.

There are mental benefits to Pilates as well. Pilates breathing techniques engage your mind, requiring you to focus on your breath and body simultaneously. As you clear your mind and concentrate on your workout, you will experience an hour of peaceful clarity – and we can all use that around the holidays.

Take it to the next level with Pilates Reformer

If you want to really burn calories, try a Pilates Reformer class. During traditional Pilates mat work, we mainly focus on strengthening the core muscles while lying on the floor. Although we sometimes use weights, foam blocks, and exercise bands or balls, traditionally Pilates classes require very little additional equipment. Intensity comes through mastery.

However, Joseph Pilates also developed a large piece of exercise equipment to help strengthen injured soldiers who were confined to their beds. The modern version is called the “Pilates Reformer” or sometimes the “Universal Reformer.” The Reformer looks like a low table with springs and pulleys attached, which can be adjusted to create extra resistance. The more springs added, the more resistance for the user.

Pilates students use the Reformer to strengthen large muscles groups in the legs and arms while still working the core muscles. This means that during a Pilates Reformer class you will work more muscle groups more deeply, although you will still notice similarities between the exercises and those you’ve learned in your Pilates mat classes. It’s the Pilates version of a full-body workout.

Staying happy and healthy into the New Year

The worst thing you can do over the holidays is postpone your fitness. Don’t wait to make a New Year’s resolution. Prioritize your fitness right now. Every small effort you make prepares you for bigger efforts in the future. Or, in other words, you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too.

You can’t load up your shopping cart with fresh summer vegetables or get outside for a long walk, but you can make great, healthy choices over the holidays. Stop by our Evanston Pilates studio today and sign up for a class, or check out our studio schedule online. Whether you’re a beginner or looking for a challenge, we know we have the right class for you.