Now, a lot of Pilates teachers would say that you don’t need the gym if you are doing Pilates. Which is true! However, I think gym work can benefit Pilates and Pilates can definitely benefit Gym work. If we flip the coin – a lot of gym goers would say you don’t need Pilates in your life, if you are working out at the gym. And that’s where I completely disagree. I think Pilates benefits gym work more then just doing gym alone. It sets your alignment and ables your body to be confident to challenge any gym exercise, with your form intact and ready to go. I think alignment and core strength is key to any exercise, which Pilates provides. It keeps your body lengthened, aligned and ready for functional movement.
Should you go to the gym if you are doing Pilates?
The answer entirely depends on your goals and needs. I personally still go to gym even though I’m a Pilates teacher, main reason being is that I want to burn fat and sculpt my body. Although Pilates definitely sculpts your body and helps lose weight, I feel Pilates combined with weight and cardio is the best ingredients for an aesthetically good body. If you feel you only want to keep your spine healthy and want the best exercise for functional movement. Then Pilates is your number one! If you are a heavy lifter at the gym and want better form, I would recommend Pilates for you time and time again!
Let’s go a bit deeper into how Pilates can help when you lift weight at the gym, we will use a simple squat with loaded weights for an example. Remember the aim of a Pilates class is to challenge your body, with many exercises that align the spine and challenge core strength.
Most exercises in Pilates at a beginners level focus on neutral spine and pelvis. Neutral pelvis is the alignment of the ASIS which is also known as the hip bones (the parts of the hips we feel that protrude the most), and the Pubic bone in line with each other in the Coronal Plane. And what is neutral spine? It is the three natural curves of the spine, from a side view of the spine: there are 33 vertebrae. The cervical spine (neck) is curved inwards, the thoracic spine (upper back) is slightly curved outwards, the lumbar spine (lower back) again curves inwards, and then we have the sacrum and coccyx bones (tailbones) which are fused together and curve outwards. It is the amount of degrees in which the spines curves correlate with each other that determine good alignment. Pilates over time, lengthens and strengthens the spine to make these degrees correct! Or as good as they can be depending on your body.
Now imagine you have been attending Pilates classes and you have good alignment. You have achieved neutral spine and pelvis and are about to do a squat. You use your core strength to control the stability and dynamic movement of the squat. You are then directing your energy only to the part of the body that you wish to work i.e your thighs! Apply Pilates to any gym exercise and you will excel. Your body form will be ideal.
To round it up, any exercise is a good exercise if executed correctly. I say Pilates is a must, and a gym work out to improve other aspects of your body is a bonus. Enjoy!