How many times a week should you do Pilates? Is once a week enough? Is every day too much? Tune in to hear what I recommend as a Pilates teacher and what the American College of Sports Medicine's physical activity guidelines have to say about the frequency of your Pilates sessions.
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back to the podcast. Today we are talking about how often should you do Pilates. This is a very popular [00:01:00] question. I get asked this all the time when I'm teaching and it's also one of my favorite questions cuz it has the best answer. It's a heads, you win, tails, you win, answer, and I love a win-win situation.
[00:01:14] The short answer to this question, how often should I do Pilates is as often as you like, and I know you don't listen to the podcast for that little 32 second sound bite. But honestly, if you love Pilates, how often should you do it? As much as your heart desires. The longer answer is that increased exercise has increased benefits, so more, more exercise, more Pilates is better. But there are a few little asterisks on that point that we will dive into in this episode.
[00:01:50] So how often should you do Pilates? Exercise is great. Pilates is exercise, so Pilates [00:02:00] is great. Uh, we know that exercise is good for a myriad of reasons. We know that if you're listening to this podcast and you love Pilates, that you in particular are very passionate about your Pilates practice, and that's awesome. There are tons of benefits to doing Pilates that are just because Pilates is a form of exercise and it is good for you.
[00:02:24] So how often should you do it? Should you do it once a week? I'll tell you that doing Pilates once a week is absolutely fantastic. It is better than doing it zero times a week. And sometimes it's not just about how often can I do Pilates? It's also what fits in your schedule and what other movement are you potentially doing. So if you run a couple days a week and you do yoga, and you do Pilates, and then you go hiking on the weekend with your dog, that's a lot of movement. Pilates, once a week is fine. I'm not gonna tell someone who tells me that that's their schedule, that they should be doing more Pilates, [00:03:00] like they're doing a ton, they're doing great, and Pilates once a week is fantastic.
[00:03:04] Sometimes people think that, oh, well if I'm just doing it once a week, I'm not doing it enough. And enough is relative when you're starting from zero, once a week might be plenty, depending on a lot of factors, you know? Where are Pilates studios relative to you? How expensive are classes? What is your overall schedule like? You know, what are your work hours? Is it financially possible to do a bajillion Pilates classes or is that once a week what your wallet allows, like those are all valid concerns and things to think about when you're saying, well, how often should I be doing Pilates?
[00:03:43] What I'm gonna toss into the mix here, and I have another episode about this, about physical activity guidelines, is that according to these physical activity guidelines, you want to do two to three strength training sessions per week and 150 [00:04:00] minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise per week. Both of those things, the strength training sessions and the cardio. A
[00:04:09] strength training session is defined as an exercise session where you work all major muscle groups to near fatigue in that session, which sounds a lot like a Pilates class. If I've ever done Pilates, I'm like, yeah, that's pretty much what I feel like. I feel like I've worked every major muscle group in my body to near fatigue.
[00:04:29] The reason we have these physical activity guidelines is that if you meet those guidelines, your likelihood of dying for any reason in the next five years is drastically reduced. And while you may not do Pilates and say, yay, I'm really glad that I'm less likely to die in the next five years, but that is a good perk and it is a valid perk. And if you don't have any other goal for exercise, if you're like, I have no idea what I'm doing, I just really love [00:05:00] Pilates, meeting physical activity guidelines is in my mind as a teacher, but also is a human who knows what the guidelines are, that is a great goal to have. That's like the default goal is to meet your physical activity guidelines.
[00:05:14] So by that definition, two to three Pilates sessions a week, and then you can do your cardio. Maybe you have a cardio Pilates class. 150 minutes is a lot of it. Maybe you run, maybe you do elliptical, maybe you walk super briskly. But meeting those guidelines is, could be a goal. So two to three sessions a week. That's a good amount. That's a good place to be. That's a good place to start.
[00:05:38] The people who made these physical activity guidelines, it's called the American College of Sports Medicine. Most countries have their own college of movement, exercise, medicine, wellness, something that usually is responsible for researching all things movement, exercise, and wellness. Right. So the people who [00:06:00] put forth those guidelines and said, this is what you should do, have also said, that's the minimum of what you should do, because increased exercise has increased benefits.
[00:06:10] Of course, there is a limit to how much exercise, how much Pilates you can feasibly do in a day? 24 hours a day doing Pilates is probably not great, probably not sustainable, probably not the goal that we're looking for. But you could do Pilates every single day.
[00:06:31] But let's think about some of the nuance regarding that. Um, there's, there's a lot, as I mentioned before, there's, you know, financial considerations. Does the studio that you go to, is there a studio you can go to? Does the studio you go to offer unlimited classes like a membership? Do they offer a flat rate per class. Do you have to buy [00:07:00] packages of classes? Because Pilates, especially equipment Pilates, can get very expensive very quickly. One of the reasons I became a teacher is that I could not afford to take Pilates classes otherwise.
[00:07:10] So that is definitely something to keep in mind. There's also some physical limitations here. If you've ever trained to run a marathon, building up to any exercise is the same. So if you're doing Pilates once a week and you wanna do it seven times a week, jumping to seven times is a big jump, right? From once a week. That's a huge jump. So there's a building up phase. There's something we want to intermediately get from one to seven, right? So that takes time. And maybe you go from one class a week to two classes a week and see how we feel. How's our capacity? How's our energy? How's our soreness? You know, all of this stuff. How's our wallet? And then build up to more exercise.
[00:07:54] Are there classes offered at times that work for you? Like sometimes you're like, I really wanna take a [00:08:00] class right now, but there isn't a class right now. Lame. Right. Those are all kind of barriers to potentially getting up to every day and working out every day is an awesome goal, but it doesn't have to be your goal necessarily, if that makes sense.
[00:08:18] Coming up after the break, I wanna dive in a little bit from a couple different perspectives. One is from not exercising at all, and one is from already doing some Pilates and wanting to do more what that could look like, as well as talking about different intensities, finding a balance between consistency and frequency. And that good stuff that's coming up next.
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[00:09:48] Once again, I never want to villainize anyone who does Pilates once a week. It is valid. You still do Pilates. If you do it once a week, you don't not [00:10:00] do enough Pilates. I mean, I would say how much Pilates is enough. Enough Pilates is a nebulous concept in the first place, but I never wanna say if once a week is your sweet spot that you're not doing enough. Or if you're doing it every day, you're somehow better than anyone else doing Pilates. That's not the case. Everyone's a little bit different, so let's dive in.
[00:10:22] If you are not exercising at all, which probably if you're listening to this podcast, you're like, I already do Pilates. That's why I'm listening to your podcast. But if you had a friend perhaps who wasn't doing any Pilates at all, starting from zero means that we wanna, we just wanna start slow. We want it to be sustainable. Any change that we make, we want it to be sustainable. So going from no Pilates a week to one Pilates a week is a huge jump. You know what I mean? So giving yourself time and space to see how that fits with you.
[00:10:53] And seeing how that fits with you is also going to apply to, I'm doing Pilates three times a week, and I wanna do it seven times a week, or I [00:11:00] wanna do it five times a week. We wanna add in a session and see how we feel. There's something called delayed onset muscle soreness that happens when we do too much in a session, and it's one thing to feel sore in the session. Totally fine, totally cool. It's okay to feel sore the next day, but if that soreness persists or gets worse, after 24 hours, it just means we did a little bit too much and we want to dial it back. So you wanna keep in mind for yourself that you're like, Hey, I added that fifth Pilates class and I couldn't get out of bed. Like, okay, that's probably not great and probably not sustainable.
[00:11:41] So one thing you can do is look at the intensity of the Pilates that you're doing. A lot of studios offer classes at different levels. Not just, this is foundational Pilates. This is advanced Pilates, but also in terms of this is very fast moving, potentially sweaty, [00:12:00] potentially advanced exercises, but doesn't have to be, and this is a little bit more stretchy, a little bit slower paced, which doesn't mean that it's easy, but there are, you know, potentially levels in the classes where you could see how one class might be more of an active recovery. Like I'm still doing Pilates, but I'm not doing 18 teasers in a row like a machine Pilates. You know what I mean?
[00:12:27] It could be different teachers having different styles and intensities that way, because if you're gonna build up to seven days a week, seven days of a super high intense class might take a long time to build up to, but if you said, okay, I'm gonna take two super intense classes, and then two, a little bit more relaxed, a little bit more recovery style classes, that's amazing.
[00:12:54] Fun fact, that's actually what I do. Two maximum Pilates classes a week is [00:13:00] about all my physical capacity can handle and with my schedule, my finances and everything. Like two super intense ones. Yes. More than that, I start to get real cranky, you know? And that's totally fine.
[00:13:11] If I wanted to change that, which I don't, but if I did, I would have to build up a little bit slower and I'd have to push myself to do that. But I've kind of found my natural rhythm, and it's two intense, two a little bit gentler.
[00:13:24] What I think is as important as the frequency of what you do in Pilates land, it's also about the consistency. Can you consistently do two to three Pilates classes a week? That's phenomenal. That's fantastic. But if you find yourself doing five classes one week and then no classes for two weeks, and then three classes and then one class, you know, like it's better overall for our wellness to do something more consistently.
[00:13:54] So if you can find one class on your Pilates studio schedule that you can commit to and do, that's [00:14:00] amazing. And you should definitely do that and build from there if you are able to, if you want to. I think building up to physical activity guidelines is always a great goal. If you can go beyond that even better, but it doesn't make any of the stuff you do in between less valid.
[00:14:21] Everybody's a little bit different. People's goals are different. Why you do Pilates might have nothing to do with physical activity guidelines. It might be super social or it might be, you know, super strenuous and it's just what you want. Whatever you're getting out of your class is fantastic. I want you to keep getting it out of that.
[00:14:39] I am gonna encourage you to meet physical activity guidelines because you're pretty cool and I'd love to decrease your all cause mortality. Um, and if you wanna build up to doing Pilates every day, that's great as well. Wherever you are on your movement journey, how often you should do Pilates is gonna be highly dependent on your circumstances. [00:15:00] Shoot for two to three, but love yourself wherever you are on that journey. I think that's important.
[00:15:07] Huge thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee. The newsletter is out and I look forward to meeting up with you for a coffee chat. It's gonna be a blast. It always is. Have a great few weeks and I will talk to you again soon.
[00:15:33] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates too? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:15:56] I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.[00:16:00]