The Truth About Pilates for Weight Loss

Discover how Pilates can help weight loss with Lesley Logan, a highly experienced instructor with over a decade of teaching expertise.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • December 17, 2023
Home  »  Blog   »   The Truth About Pilates for Weight Loss
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Do You Actually Lose Weight Doing Pilates?

Is Pilates good for weight loss? I’ve been teaching since 2008. And this is one of those common questions I get asked. So if you’re wondering the same thing, today, I’m going to talk about the truth about Pilates and weight loss based on my own experience and my clients’.

Welcome to™, the most supportive Pilates-loving community across the globe. Enjoy new weekly classes with our amazing teachers. Download the™ app today.

Hi, I’m Lesley Logan, co-founder of I’ve taught 1000s of people Pilates around the world, hundreds of teachers how to teach it and I’m excited to talk to you today.

So let’s address a misconception about Pilates and weight loss right off the top. Here’s the deal, you’ve probably heard about the Pilates body like, “oh, if you do Pilates, you’ll get the Pilates body.” And then there’s celebrities all walking around looking like they’ve got this Pilates body. And then there’s these dancers who have been going around doing it. And so you see it on all of these tabloids and magazines and you think, “oh, if I do Pilates, I’ll have that body.”

Here’s the deal. You can do Pilates in the exact body you’re in. The bodies that they have are not because of just doing Pilates. There’s a lot that goes into it. If you do Pilates, you can look exactly the way you are, and you’re welcome, and it doesn’t mean that you have to lose weight to do Pilates. And it doesn’t mean that Pilates is the only way that those people are having the bodies that they have.

Speaking about the myths in Pilates, I actually have an entire video about all of those myths. And you can watch it here on this channel. I give you all the honest truth, no BS.

Is 30 Minutes of Pilates a Day Enough to Lose Weight?

woman weighing scale tapemeasure

Alright, let’s talk about losing weight. So here’s the deal. If you’re a child of the 80s, like myself, or from before, you thought it’s tons of cardio, you better be on that treadmill forever. And then no fat, no sugar, no fun in your food. And I’m here to tell you that through lots and lots of science that’s out there, and some incredible experts, which I hope you actually go and look into, what we do know is that there’s genetics that are part of it. And hormones play a big part of it. Where you are in your life plays an even bigger part of it. And what you need to lose weight is very different than what someone else’s.

And I also just want to say while we’re talking about weight loss, being skinnier or on the thinner side does not equal being healthy. And so if you’re on a weight loss journey, this should be something between you and your medical professionals, and not you and society. And what you think society thinks you should look like.. you can be healthy at any size. In fact, there are a lot of thin people who are not healthy. And a lot of people have average sizes who are very much so.

So make sure that if you are looking into weight loss journey that you are working with your medical doctors, and true nutritional experts who can work with your blood types, your hormones, all of those things to make sure that the journey is right for you.

Pilates for Strength, Toning, and Weight Loss

All right, so losing weight versus burning fat versus toning muscle versus building muscle. There’s a lot of things to talk about here when it comes to our bodies and journeys of health that we could be on. You might actually be watching this because you actually just want to get stronger. So here’s the thing, Pilates is a strength based workout. What does that mean? Just like when you’re lifting weights, it’s a strength based workout versus something like a cardio where you’re running on a treadmill.

So, let me explain something to you. When you do cardio workouts, you can get into those fat burning zones with your heart rate, which means you do need to wear a heart rate monitor to know what those are. You can also be in a more cardiovascular space with cardio, because maybe you’re trying to train your body for some sort of endurance sport. When you’re done doing cardio, your calorie burn stops. So yes, when you do cardio, of course, oh my gosh, if you’re looking at your Apple Watch, you burn a ton of calories. But once you’re done doing that, you stop.

However, when you’re doing a strength based workout like Pilates, it actually increases metabolism for up to 48 hours, which is why a lot of people do understand that if you are on a weight loss journey, or you’re wanting to be on a toning journey, you should be doing pilates for weight loss or other strength-based workouts because it’s actually going to help you in that versus cardio which is just going to be in that moment.

Why Pilates is Different than Your Weight Training?

So I want to also talk about why Pilates is a little bit different than maybe your weight training is going to be. So Pilates is a low impact type of fitness. That does not mean that all low impact fitness is Pilates, I really want to address it. I’ll have other videos where I talk about how wall Pilates out there’s has a lot of marketing stuff. And there’s a lot of people doing low impact fitness telling you it’s Pilates… Actual Pilates exercises are low impact, and you do less reps, it’s quality over quantity. So you’re looking between three and 10 reps, no sets of anything. And so it really does help to work the entire body. And yes, you are working all of the muscles of your body including your core, which helps your posture, which by the way, if you just work your posture, you look five pounds thinner. So if that’s a goal of yours, get into Pilates and you’ll actually just get taller. And that has a really amazing impact right?

But when you’re doing more weight training, which is something that I also do, I work with heavy weights, I do sets. That is a whole different type of muscle working and muscle toning that could happen and that’s where you’re gonna see a difference in someone who’s doing CrossFit versus someone only doing Pilates. I happen to do both because I think they’re amazing together, we can talk about that in different day. But when you’re looking at your journey of fitness, you want to make sure you’re picking the thing that’s best for your body, especially about aches and pains. You’re going to want to have a Pilates practice to support any other weight training that you’re wanting to do.

Can You Lose Belly Fat Doing Pilates?

lose belly fat doing online pilates classes

So how is Pilates supposed to impact your body? What is it meant to target? How often should you practice it, let’s get down and dirty with the detail. Pilates is actually not an exercise that you do to target one group. And that’s really important. In fact, I hope that in your fitness journey, you are working your entire body, whatever it is that you choose, because we need to balance our imbalances. What Pilates does, ideally, when you first start working with it, you’re going to find what your center is, your center is not just your abs, it’s actually all the muscles around the front, the sides and the back, your glutes and your shoulder girdle. So pretty much anything that is attached to your axial skeleton, the tailbone to the crown of your head is your center. Then once you’ve got your center connected, all the exercises are meant to challenge that by moving your arms and legs around. That’s Pilates in a nutshell.

Now, here’s the deal. When you are doing Pilates, and you’re moving from your center, and you’re working all of the muscles all of the time… the more advanced you get, the harder it gets, your posture is the thing that you are going to notice the most. But also your ability to have endurance and strength in anything that you do. You only have to think about your posture, which is the most amazing thing. Posture helps with digestion. If you’re on a weight loss journey, you’re going to want to make sure you’re digesting your food. Now, I’m not saying you should be on a weight loss journey, because I believe that you should love your body for what it is. But if that’s something you’re looking for, having great posture is going to help your digestion, it’s going to help your sleep, it’s going to help your stress levels. And so it’s really, really important that you do that.

How Long Does it Take to See Weight Loss Results from Pilates?

How often you practice Pilates, ideally, daily. Because it’s a low impact movement, it’s a very intentional movement is something that you can practice as often as you want. If you’re only doing Pilates, once a week, I’m going to be really honest with you, while you will maybe feel really good right after the workout, just like any workout, just like anything, even if you practice Spanish once a week, you’re going to feel really good in that moment. But then tomorrow, the benefits are gone, right.

So ideally, Pilates is best done three to four times a week. Now, you don’t have to do a full hour. That’s the cool thing about Pilates and what I love so much. You do not have to do a full hour session. You can do 15 minutes or you can do 20 minutes. What we love to say it OPC is any amount of minutes of Pilates is better than no amount of minutes. So if you can only do five minutes a day, seven days a week, I’ll take it.

If you want to know more about the benefits of Pilates, make sure you check out our full video. We have every benefit that’s there, there’s some really awesome interesting ones that might surprise you.

Pilates as a Lifestyle Choice Beyond Weight Loss

woman mat pilates fitness outfit

I want to share a little bit about my own experience and my clients’ experience when it comes to Pilates, particularly in the context of pilates for weight loss, and if there was a weight loss journey attached to it. I actually got into Pilates thinking it would help me lose my freshman 25, after I’d graduated college already. If you’re looking at this and you’re wanting Pilates to do that for you, I understand. In fact, that’s really what I thought it would do.

For me, what I found is that it just made me feel really awesome and really strong. And actually, I didn’t lose any weight. And I’m grateful for that. Because I was able to find myself or connect more to myself, which allowed me to love the body that I actually have. And I’m standing in front of you today 20 pounds heavier than when I started Pilates. It’s because I continued to gain more muscle, I continue to find more balance in my body.

I found a healthy way to work with food and how I looked at it as part of my lifestyle. And so for me Pilates is a way of life to help me feel really awesome to feel really strong, and to also have this movement meditation that really makes me ditch what’s going on in the world and just be in my own place and prioritize myself first.

With my clients, so many of them came wanting to explore pilates for weight loss and here’s what I would say to them and I’m gonna say it to you. I can help you be the strongest version of yourself. I’m going to help you prioritize yourself first. You are going to be so connected to yourself, you’re going to love that. And if weight loss is something you want, here are all the nutritionists that I love in this town and you should talk with them and see which one is best for you and if weight loss is the best thing for you.

And because of that honesty, they trusted me, they worked with me several times a week, and what they actually found is that they were able to stop the whirlwind what’s going around them and actually focus on themselves.

Pilates Enables Self-Focus and Mind-Body Connection

How often do you get to focus on yourself with all the things you have to do? All the laundry, all the bills, all the emails, all the texts, iuf you’ve got kids, you’ve got dogs, are so much pressure. Having a workout that allows you to focus only on yourself is key. Pilates does that because it’s a mind-body movement. You cannot think about what you have to buy at the grocery store while you’re doing the 100. It’s impossible. I dare you to try it.

So with all of them, what they were able to see by doing Pilates multiple times a week, is how good it made them feel. How strong it made them feel. How their aches, pains, low back issues, discomfort and digestion went away. And that is huge and that’s why they continue to do it years and years later.

If you are new to Pilates, if you’ve been thinking about doing it for your weight loss journey or for your health journeys. I want you to check out my Pilates class for beginners, but also, maybe you’re not new, we have tons of full length classes for all levels here to meet your needs. All of those links are in the show notes below.

So Is Pilates effective for weight loss? Well, the truth is, there are some people who probably have lost weight doing Pilates. Whether it’s the best journey for you in terms of pilates lose weight? I want to know if you really need to be losing weight, if that’s actually going to help you have a healthier life. In fact, I think it’s really important that we stop thinking that weight loss and health. And it’s so important that I talk to you about this, because I really think that, especially in the Western world, we have this intense pressure to just continue to get smaller and take up less space.

You are amazing the way that you are exactly as you are. And so if you and your doctors think that a weight loss journey is the right thing for you, then I hope you work with them. And whether or not that is the journey to be on, Pilates is one of the best things that you can do for yourself because it’s a way of life. It’s not a weight loss journey. It is a way of life. It’s going to help you do your life better. It’s going to help you prioritize yourself, it’s going to improve your posture, it’s going to take the stress levels off your body, and it’s really going to make you feel like an awesome person.

So I hope you do Pilates just because and not as a pilates weight loss journey.

Redefining Pilates as a Path to Self-Love and Vitality

At we actually don’t use the words burn, sculpt, lose weight, weight loss, because here’s the deal. That’s not what we’re here to do for you. And that’s not what we think every single person needs to be doing. And also, can we just stop punishing ourselves with our workouts? Our workouts are here to help us rock the life we want to live! You want to hike a mountain? You’ve got to train for it. You want to chase after your kids? You’ve got to train for it. You want to pick up your grandkids? You’ve got to train for it, right?

So Pilates for us at OPC is a way to help you prioritize yourself first, to help you strengthen your body that you have. And to help you take on anything you want to do. We actually say that Pilates at OPC helps you do what you already love better. So that’s what we’re here to do. And we’re not here to make you think that you need to be burning things or sculpting things. We actually want you to love the body that you’re in. And that’s why we don’t use those words.

The thing that bothers me the most about the industry in working out and also what I see in the Pilates world on videos are: Pilates for the booty or Pilates for your abs, all these things that just target certain muscle groups are actually just playing off your insecurities like there’s something wrong with your abs or there’s something wrong with the butt that you have. It really bothers me. Pilates is a full body workout. Anyone using words like that to market to you is just playing off your insecurities.

And so while there are some themes that can actually isolate some of those different body parts, it’s important that you know that the best thing you can do for your body is to move it, to move at the ability that it can do right now, and to love the body that you have. And ideally, every Pilates workout should be working your entire body, not isolating or target in any spots.

Join Our Pilates Community

At we have several teachers on our platform ranging in age and body size and body type. And so we welcome you as you are, we want you to come as you are and do what you can. In fact, we believe it’s brave and courageous to replace something you can’t do with something that you can right now. We always offer different options and different accessibilities to exercises. So you can show up the way that you are and challenge yourself in the way that you want.

At OPC, we take away the class every single week to help hold you accountable to you and your own goals, replace it with a new class, and then you take that class all week long to compare yourself to yourself, which is the only person you should be comparing yourself to – it’s you. And so we help hold you accountable. We allow you to see the improvements that you’re making, and helping you see how far you’re getting in the exercises and your connection to that method.

All of our teachers are fully certified, comprehensively trained. In fact, we’ve been teaching for decades as a combined force! And we’re here to help you with any goal that you have and help support you connecting those exercises to you. If you have a question, you can ask it. If you want us to look at your form, we can do that! Somebody can’t do here on YouTube and no other platform does.

So if you want to check out our amazing classes, our awesome teachers, an incredible community, go to I really hope to see you over there. Thank you so much for watching this video. Subscribe to this channel. And if you hit the notifications Bell and comment below I answer those comments and I go live every single Sunday to answer your questions. See you next time. Have an amazing day.

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
Enjoying Lesley's teaching style? Willing to travel? Explore the world while maintaining your practice by joining Lesley on a Pilates retreat.

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pop up summer tour | online pilates classes



Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,


MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.



We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.



Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Backstroke…the ultimate Middle Exercise! From our chest to our knees, front and back, we have to work our “Middle” in coordination to make The Backstroke happen. We’ll use a small ball on the Reformer and light weights on the Mat to help find our connection to this exercise.

See you in class,

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, a small ball and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

So many people don't love the 100. But the 100 is an incredible exercise that when you know all its capabilities can be something you might look forward to...maybe even like a little bit. Or a lot!

We often wonder why the 100 is the first exercise. I mean, it's got a lot going on for a warm up. To me it's a survey, a feedback, a mirror to how our body is doing that day. And, how cool it is to know how your body is feeling as you go into your practice. This way you can explore what your body needs in other exercises.

Let's explore what the 100 is telling us and how to make it our own each day!

No props needed.

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    The key to longevity is being able to get down to the ground and up again with as little assistance as possible. In this weeks class we are going to focus on how to stand in your feet no matter where they are in space.

    On the Mat we will have a playful ending that Joseph Pilates would do!

    The Reformer we’ll end challenging ourselves standing on our carriage. (Options to do the exercises off the Reformer too!)

    No props needed.

    See ya in class,

    xx~LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


    Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Hello, it's OPC Teacher Christine here! I used to get commended for my form and flexibility in any type of movement class I went to, even if it was my very first class. But what I struggled with was always hitting a plateau where I couldn't make progress or improvement. For me, that changed when I discovered the strength and control I found in practicing Pilates.

    Getting on the apparatuses puts your body in a position where you find strength, stretch, and control through your center. I was unable to fold my body like origami anymore. One of the mat exercises - double leg stretch - is great for finding a strong center regardless of what the arms and legs are doing.

    For this month, we'll explore using the concept of finding an inner lift of the belly away from the thighs to find a strength in our center, the two-way stretch of the limbs, while controlling the movement of the arms and legs whether they move away from center, or come back to center.

    Mat class: Magic Circle and squishy ball

    See you in class,




    In Pilates we often talk about the 5 spinal shapes… do you know them? No worries if you don’t yet as this month we’re going to explore them all! How tall, round, extended, rotated or bent from our sides that we can be gives us more power & control during exercise. Let’s see what we can feel when we put the focus on working toward these particular shapes… And, lookout for combo shapes!"

    On the Reformer, please have a ball, Magic Circle and your pole. A couple of pillows and a Swiffer handle all make great substitutes!
    Mat, Tower/Cadillac and Wunda Chair: No props needed.

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋


    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

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    Mat: Theraband and light weights
    Reformer: no props needed


    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Theraband, light weights and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.