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Pilates for every body

There is this misconception of Pilates that it is only for perfect body types. I guess that would mean skinny, lean people who can immediately perform every exercise beautifully without breaking into a sweat and most of all without having to adjust hair, make-up and tight bottoms.

Before I ever visited a Pilates studio I had two misconceptions; I will only see women and the men are all ballet dancers. The first one is certainly true, there are more girls doing Pilates than boys - and that includes teachers - but not every man is a danceur who pirouets himself through the studio.

Ripped models

I am fairly new in this Pilates world. And also relatively old. I started doing Pilates at 41. That is perhaps a good thing because I am mature enough to not really care about the person next to me and if he is doing an exercise better than me. You can only do the exercise to your best ability and I know my knees make creaky sounds.

In my opinion this image of toned and shaped men and women has been created by two main groups; the media and the producers of work-out gear. Whatever fitness magazine we open or online sport shop we visit, the only thing we see is how ripped all these people are wearing the tightest and most revealing outfits. Obviously nothing is ever photoshopped and they do eat at least two salad leaves a day. Oh, and of course we only see young - because that equals healthy and fit - bodies. Yeah right.

Red face

True, it doesn’t always look pretty when you are trying to achieve the Rollover and on return you catch a glimp of yourself in the mirror. A blown up red face, your non-sticky top crept up too high and at least one layer of body fat has come on display. Nice!

Unless you are a narcissist full body mirrors are not people's best friend. Especially not when you are working up a sweat and wearing revealing outfits. The first few sessions you do care about all of that and whilst hanging in the air you might even try to adjust your outfit. However a good teacher will not flinch and should make it clear from the start that adjustments are not to be made in the class. Slowly you will learn to care less about how you look, what your neighbours in the studio might see and focus on your own mat.

Tall to small

Pilates is truely for everybody. From tall to short and from big to small. Having said that, I understand how intimidating it can be to try something new, especially when your own body is the focus.

It took me a while before I found my (body) confidence when I started practicing Pilates but now I stand taller, I feel stronger and I do things I never thought I could do. And so can you!


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Marco Dingemans is a qualified Classical Pilates mat instructor

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