Pilates: Who Does It?

Lots of People Practice Pilates

By now, just about everyone has heard of Pilates, but you might be wondering who does Pilates, really? Let me tell you right off the bat, there are a lot more people doing Pilates than the young women and red carpet celebrities we see in the media. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes, levels of fitness, and from all walks of life practice Pilates.

What follows is a short list highlighting examples of people who take advantage of the benefits of Pilates training. I hope you find it encouraging and informative.


A man does Pilates.
A man does Pilates. Allison Michael Orenstein/Getty Images

I'm starting this list with men because there have been so many women doing Pilates in recent years that some have the idea that it's a women's form of fitness. That's a big Pilates myth. Men and Pilates go way back. Pilates was started b a man, Joseph Pilates, and men have been thoroughly involved in Pilates - doing it, teaching it, building the industry - all along.

Men and Pilates
Joseph Pilates - A Short Bio

Pregnant and Postnatal Women

Pregnant women using an exercise ball.
Pregnant women using an exercise ball. gilaxia/Getty Images

Pilates is a great friend of the pre- and postnatal woman. It is famous for preparing bodies for childbirth and helping women recover not just their figures but better physical function after giving birth. There are certain exercises that are contraindicated as a pregnancy moves forward so please learn more about it before embarking on Pilates training.

Pilates and Pregnancy
The Pelvic Floor Muscles

Cross Training Athletes

Olympic champion sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross trains with Pilates.
Olympic champion sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross trains with Pilates. Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

This is a category that is growing fast. As Pilates becomes more popular, its relevance as a form of fitness training that develops balanced musculature, flexibility, and overall functional fitness is making it a top choice as ​a complimentary exercise for athletes in training. We see everyone from cyclists to Super Bowl football players and Olympic ice skaters using Pilates.

This might also be a place to mention that dancers, who engage in very demanding physical training for their art, are big fans of Pilates and many go on to become Pilates instructors.

Pilates and Cross Training
Walsh, May-Treanor Do Pilates

All Sizes, Including Overweight

Pilates can be for everyone.
Pilates can be for everyone. Liam Norris/Getty Images

Big, small, tall, short, whatever; you can do Pilates. One of the great things about Pilates is that it is built around efficient, well aligned human movement - not certain humans, all humans. There are things we focus on like core strength, flexibility, and balance but the exercises are adapted appropriately for each body using them. This was one of the hallmarks of Joseph Pilates' teaching and it remains a guiding factor in the evolution of Pilates today.

Pilates fundamentals and mat exercises are accessible to everyone, with modification when desired, and good quality Pilates equipment is sturdy and often adjustable to differing sizes of people.

Plus Size Pilates
How to Size Your Exercise Ball


An elderly woman during a workout.
An elderly woman during a workout. Asia Images/Getty Images

Pilates helps with balance, flexibility, and coordination as it promotes overall fitness. It is easy to adjust the effort level required for Pilates exercises. And Pilates, as moderate resistance training, is very compatible with bone health programs. These are some of the reasons seniors are signing up for Pilates classes.

FAQ: Is Pilates Good for Seniors?
Pilates and Exercise for Osteoporosis
The Pilates Elders

People with Back Pain and in Rehab

A woman experiencing back pain.
A woman experiencing back pain. Tom Merton/Getty Images

Pilates exercises are increasingly recommended by back pain specialists and incorporated into physical therapy programs of all kinds. People with pain or physical limitations often find that including Pilates taught by a qualified instructor in their rehab program makes a positive difference in their comfort and overall fitness.

Also, many Pilates instructors have continuing education in rehab issues and many physical therapists take Pilates teacher training programs. Those with chronic or serious physical issues will want to seek out these highly qualified therapists and teachers.

Why Pilates Works for Back Pain
Pilates, Exercise, and Sciatica
Pilates Back Stretch and Strength Exercises
Neck Pain in Pilates


Pilates can benefit equestrians.
Pilates can benefit equestrians. Jack Cusano/Getty Images

Pilates for horseback riding is very interesting because it affects the horse as well as the rider. Equestrians find that not only does Pilates help them meet the physical demands of horseback riding like inner thigh strength, finding a good seat, and torso stability; but it also helps them communicate with their horses with greater ease. Both of those elements, the physical and mental, come together to create a riding experience that is more comfortable, ergonomic, and graceful for the rider and the horse.

Pilates for Horseback Riding - a workshop view
Pilates Power Animals


You Can Do Pilates - Get Started

Working out with a Pilates magic circle.
Working out with a Pilates magic circle. gilaxia/Getty Images

If enhanced strength, balance, flexibility and as Joseph Pilates would say, a "complete coordination of body, mind, and spirit" is what you are looking for in a fitness program, Pilates is the place to start. It provides a foundation of fitness for the interests of people listed above and many more, and it can do the same for you.

Getting Started:

What Is Pilates?
Pilates Info for Beginners
Pilates Beginner Quick Start Program
Get in Shape with Pilates
Free Pilates Exercise Instructions