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5 Ways to Combine Cardio and Pilates

Combining Cardio with Pilates ExercisesCardiolates

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By Nicole Rogers

While a good, flowing Pilates session can elevate your heart rate and make you sweat, many instructors find that their clients crave ways to integrate more cardio into their workout routine. With this in mind, Pilates studios across the country offer classes that focus specifically on cardio. It helps to note that in this economy, gyms are slashing membership fees to lure new members, so any incentive for clients to stay in the Pilates studio is a welcome addition. Here we take a look at several studios who have added successful cardio classes. If you’d like to add some cardio to your Pilates offerings, take notes—then get cardio-creative!

Pilates on Fifth, New York, NY
Years ago, Kimberly Corp and her sister/business partner Katherine hoped to make their studio a “one-stop shop studio.” Many clients told them they used their gyms mainly for cardio. So why not bring cardio into the Pilates studio so that they could drop their gym memberships if they wanted to? In addition, the Corps found that many clients came to Pilates in order to lose weight. These students always wanted to move faster and elevate their heart rate. Pilates was not designed to be a heart-pumping workout, and the sisters didn’t want to sacrifice the benefits of Pilates form to accommodate the desire for cardio. First they added treadmills and elliptical trainers for clients to use after their sessions for a small fee. But Kimberly says she saw clients achieve lovely form in their Pilates session only to get on a treadmill and raise their shoulders up to their ears within minutes, negating the Pilates postural work.

They found their solution in Rebounders and their own brand of class named Cardiolates. According to Kimberly, jumping on the Rebounder enforces alignment, rather than derailing it. For example, if your head is forward of your feet on the Rebounder, you will fall forward – so to some extent you stay in alignment intuitively. The class combines the core strengthening and postural qualities of Pilates with a vigorous cardiovascular workout. As we age, our knees and bones can become less forgiving of running and aerobics. The beauty of the Rebounder is that it increases the gravitational load without the impact to the joints that high-impact activities like running can generate, so a wide-range of clients can enjoy the benefits of Cardiolates.

Pilates Cardio
Flow Chicago
Flow Chicago offers a “Pilates Cardio” class using props and heavier weights, focusing on full-body integration. Cynthia Reid, a senior faculty member of Body Arts and Science International (BASI) and owner of Flow Chicago, says this Pilates class appeals to people who like to do a more intense full-body workout. Flow Chicago also offers mini trampoline and dance conditioning classes. These classes achieve a cardiovascular workout, maintaining the Pilates principles, rather than focusing on the classical Pilates repertoire.

Nia Class at Pilates Studio City in Los AngelesA Nia classPilates Studio City, Los Angeles
Pilates Studio City in Los Angeles uses dance as well, with their Nia classes. Co-owner and head of the Nia program, Nichole Martinez-Barreto, describes it as “a perfect way to move without feeling the drag of exercising, a great cardiovascular complement to Pilates, and a pleasurable alternative to the gym.” Nia is said to integrate principals of martial arts, dance and the healing arts. Still unsure of what that all means? You can see video of people practicing the dance for yourself on the Nia Website.

Cardio Pilates
Ellie Herman jumping with the SpringboardEllie Herman Studio, Brooklyn, NY

Ellie Herman offers “Cardio Pilates” classes using the mat, Reformer and Springboard. “The class flows, and there are more repetitions than a normal Pilates class,” says Herman. “Also, there is jumping involved; both jumping from a standing position with the Springboard (like the photo shows), and jumping sequences on the Reformer. Clients have been very excited [about] the class. We offer it to intermediate and advanced students only to ensure proper form while keeping the pace up. I think it’s great to make Pilates a cardio workout, but only when clients are advanced enough to do the proper form.”

One Shot Class
Power Pilates, New York, NY

JumpSnap ropeless jump rope for PilatesJump Snap ropeless jump ropePower Pilates’ One Shot class uses a battery-operated jump rope called the Jump Snap ropeless jump rope to give a cardio and core workout in one (shot). The Jump Snap lets you hear the rhythm of your jumps, just like a regular jump rope, but counts the repetitions for you and avoids the obvious whipping problems you would have in a large group of people jumping rope in close proximity. As with all things Power Pilates, it is an intense workout, and you will leave sweating. For now, this class is only offered at Power Pilates’ 23rd Street location in New York City. But it is offered four days a week, and there is also an online class, “One Shot Advanced Class,” taught by Susan Moran-Perich, available for download on Power Pilates’ Website.

Pilates professionals are innovating creative new ways to address cardio all the time. There are certainly more variations than we have mentioned here. If you would like more information about cardio-specific certifications discussed in this post, please refer to the following sites:

Urban Rebounding

Nicole Rogers is a Pilates instructor and writer. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Pilates DVD Review: The Jump Board Workout


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Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 01:25PM by Registered CommenterPilates-Pro in , , | Comments31 Comments | References1 Reference

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I don't understand why Pilates teachers feel they need to compete with the "cardio market" The purpose of Pilates is to provide corrective exercises in a format that does not stress the body.
Joe Pilates described the benefits of his work being done in a reclined position so as not to stress the heart. What he was referring to was the Central Nervous System.
As soon as you engage in an activity that increases the heart rate you are also signaling the sympathetic nervous system to respond. The medical community refers to this as a Stress test. By offering cardio, yes you are elevating the calorie burn, but you are also providing an unmonitored Stress test.
Most people over test the sympathetic nervous (aka the fight or flight response) enough that they don't need any additional options in that area.
As soon as you try to make Pilates a cardio event you are no longer teaching Pilates.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield- Dreisbach

I thought that the sympathetic nervous system responded to an anticipated threat? Adding a cardio element to Pilates can benefit many people. Stacey should be more careful in her words, or obtain further training in the fields of medicine and fitness.

January 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterun- named

Any form of exercise whether it's corrective or not must impose a specific demand (or stress) on the body systems in order for adaptative changes to occur.

January 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLA

I can't help... To clarify, the sympathetic nervous system is engaged during ANY physically active event, including pilates as is. It diverts predominant blood flow to the skeletal musculature and alters various hormone production. It's not just for 'emergency' fight or flight moments. The parasympathetic conversely diverts most blood flow to the organ systems (rest and digest).

Stress tests are measuring cardiac performance (heart). Engagement of the sympathetic nervous system is not synonymous with cardiac output/performance.

"Joe Pilates described the benefits of his work being done in a reclined position so as not to stress the heart. What he was referring to was the Central Nervous System."

NO! He was referring to the CIRCULATORY SYSTEM!

The heart is the engine/core of the CIRCULATORY system. 'Sympathetic' and 'parasympathetic' are components of the NERVOUS system.

Laying down would theoretically make for an easier job of the heart to circulate blood throughout the body without having to fight gravity much. But, the movements themselves, laying down or standing or otherwise, demand that the sympathetic nervous system be fully engaged.... Nobody exercises in a parasympathetic state! Nor would that be very useful or effective.

Sorry to poke my head back in here, but this is precisely what bothers me so much.... lack of proper education. Sometimes it's best to refrain from pretending we know something... stay within the scope of knowledge and practice.

And let's not kid ourselves, Pilates does in fact "stress" the body. Show me a beginner student trying teaser or the hundreds for the first several times who doesn't start sweating or even shaking mildly from the effort. .........


January 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenteraPTslant

I guess it is hard to explain the intricacies of the workings of a human body in a few paragraphs, especially the CNS.

The sympathetic and parasympthetic nervous systems work constantly to monitor the internal environment of the body. These unconscious responses are based on our conscious decisions to do whatever it is we want to do. Whether you are running on a treadmill or being chased by a bear you are stimulating the same response from the CNS. The "stress" that system has on the body depends on the bodies physical development.

I know we keep being told that cardio is a benefit, but is there a benefit to elevating a heart rate without a properly developed respiratory system? Breathing is a lot easier to monitor than a heart rate, not to mention it is also a better calorie burn. (look up the source of ATP for a better picture)

There is nothing wrong with increasing the heart rate, but I can tell you from experience that too much can be just be as damaging as too little. As a Pilates teacher I focus on the bodies development and balance so my clients can continue to participate in whatever activities make them happy. I have to see to it that there is enough physical support to balance out the stress of the activity.

Unfortunately, part of Joe's interpretation died with him. You can't have a circulatory system with out a Central Nervous system so we don't know for sure why he chose the words he did.

What we do know, is that he based his work on the theory of how the mind controls the body and if you look up that theory it is based on the function of the Central Nervous System. Anyone that has read Joe's books, especially Your Health, knows he wasn't the most articulate of writers.

If you follow the theory of the Central Nervous System and focus on the unconscious responses the body makes to our conscious desire to move; you end up with less stress and a different level of human development.

To aPTslant: while I respect your point of view, it is wrong to assume that I am without education. I just educated myself in a different area of development. I base my work on Joe's theory of how the mind controls the body, but I took it to a whole new place.
BTW I would not suggest having a new client do a teaser until you are certain the muscular infrastructure is strong enough to support the weight of the body. That's why they are shaking. Most people do have enough strength in the hips to support the weight of the body.

February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield-Dreisbach

hmmmmmm I think I see another lenghty debate lurking. We all have our ways of teaching and I respect Stacey's opinion. I do use the jump board which is part of the classical repetoire and it is Cardio or aerobic. (heart rate increases as well as respiration) and as far as I know, aerobic exercise is not just to strengthen the heart, it strengthens the Cardio-respriatory system which includes the heart and circulatory system plus the lungs, bronchia, diaphram as well as the ability to diliver oxygen effeciently to the muscles (ATP). and as with any exercise program the overload must be progressive to allow the body to adapt safely.(As you said there has to be the physical development to support the intensity level of any activity)
And as far as over stimulation to the nervous system, aerobic exercise has been proven to elevate endorphins in the brain which help to reduce stress.

February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLA


All true, but the endorphin release aka "the adrenaline rush" is a result of stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

The functions of each branch of the central nervous system are very specific. The only thing that can cross over between the two systems is movement.

You can find great illustrations on line if you google sympathetic nervous system or any Anatomy book can give you the breakdown of how the CNS effects the body.

February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield-Dreisbach

The heart, lungs and circulatory system are one in the same. The lungs capture air to extract oxygen which is absorbed into the blood stream and pumped through the heart out to the rest of the body. You can't suggest that you're separating the breathing mechanisms from the circulatory. As use of our muscular body increases, as in Pilates exercises, demand for oxygen increases and the heart pumps faster/stronger to meet the demands of the "ATP" exchange rate. The autonomic nervous system (of which the sympathetic and parasympathetic are components of) regulates this process for us. We have no control over that other than potential regulation of the breath. Increasing the 'strength' (or use actually) of our diaphragm and other respiratory muscles through supposed strengthening exercises for them will autonomically increase the heart/circulatory rate to keep up with the metabolic processes.

Engagement of the muscles in the body during ANY activity, including Pilates, will burn oxygen and consume energy metabolically on the cellular level in the muscles.... Thereby creating an autonomic response for the heart to pump with more vigor and increase its rate. The lungs will then be required to transport CO2 and Oxygen back and forth more efficiently to sustain aerobic respiration at the cellular level. Pilates can often be more of an anerobic activity (utilizing stored energy) due to its short duration of each exercise and sustained contraction of musculature. Shaking occurs because the muscles are being depleted of these stored energy reserves and are not receiving enough fuel aerobically through deep breathing. (Another good reason not to constrict the abdomen so much and inhibit diaphragmatic excursion.)

Endorphins are not the same as adrenaline.
Endorphines are neuropeptides produced in the brain, adrenaline (epinephrine) is produced in the adrenal or supra-renal glands. Endorphines repress pain sensation and adrenaline increases glycolitic activity in the muscles.

So although the sympathetic NS is engaged during endorphine release, it doesn't mean this is bad. In fact, we'd all be vegetables if we didn't have healthy engagement of the SNS.

The ATP pump does not work in isolation of the rest.

Breathing does not burn more calories than aerobic activity. Increasing heart rate is proven to be most effective. Where are the studies to show the numbers you are suggesting?

I see a very shallow and misled understanding of human physiology here. Be careful what you put forth to the public.

February 1, 2009 | Unregistered CommenteraPTslant


With all due respect to your profession, but I believe the definition of aerobic means "with oxygen" and I am sorry but ATP is produced using the energy sources of the body with oxygen being the most efficient.
I am not sure where you are getting your information, but I have never taken an anatomy class where oxygen was not the main component needed in order for the body to function. Glycogen and creatine are short lived resources; oxygen is always taught as the most desired source of energy.

How you choose to teach Pilates is not the same as how I choose to teach. You like to focus on sustaining a contraction in the muscle. That is fine if that is what works for you.

BTW If you are pushing a muscle to the point where it is shaking due to lack of oxygen you are damaging the muscle. Not only are you doing a diservice to the client, but you are ignoring a basic Pilates principle. "learn to breathe correctly"

I can tell by your comments that you really have a distorted view of what Pilates is about.

February 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield- Dreisbach

I should clarify that in a previous post I meant say "most beginner clients do NOT have enough strength in their hips in order to perform a proper teaser.

February 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield- Dreisbach

Aerobic vs anerobic.... yes, ....Lungs gather oxygen........ Increase heart rate........ Pump more blood.........Carry more oxygen to cells..... where's the confusion? Maybe you should re-read my post again.

A shaking muscle does NOT mean it's being damaged.... Where do you get this stuff?

And give me a break! You're going to tell me that if I walk into any old Pilates class anywhere out there that I won't see someone in that room straining or shaking/trembling mildly at some point in time? Don't kid yourself.

And if you're positioning your pelvis in a particular manner and then performing a movement around that then YOU ARE SUSTAINING A CONTRACTION IN THE MUSCULATURE OF THAT AREA!


February 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenteraPTslant

At the end ofthe day, irrespective of nervous or circulatory systems there is a lot to be said for the fact that Pilates is not your run of the mill form of exercise and in trying and be all things to all people.... cardio-lates/swim-alates/ jog-alates etc,etc we are diluting a system beyond what was intended. Is this not why PMA was founded? As a way of respecting Joseph's work? If I want to increse my heart rate more than I do in class I guess I'll run around the hills outside my home.Why can't we stand out as the specialists we are?

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDawnna Wayburne

One of issues I face in this field is that people have seen ads on television for Pilates for Weight Loss. It is impossible to loose weight doing just Pilates. (See ACE study re calorie burn) without cardio, unless you are put on a restrictive calorie diet (and we know how long those results last). I am a certified Pilates instructor as well as holding several group fitness and personal training certifications. Though I realize I am not a medical professional I do have enough training and experience to understand that Pilates in itself is not enough for overall good health and fitness. There is nothing wrong with adding cardiovascular fitness to your studio options. People are coming for Pilates so why not make it easier (and more fun) to get the cardio they need and should be getting at least 3x/week (according to the CDC). It's not even a marketing ploy, it is simply an addition to make the client's life easier. Some people can run around the block at home, but some people (such as myself) hate to jog/run. It seems like less "work" if I can take a dance class, combine cardio w/ my Pilates or even do some sort of aerobic class.

I really don't understand why adding a healthy and necessary exercise form to your Pilates offerings is such a big deal. Yes, Pilates is Pilates, but the idea is to use what you learn in Pilates to function better in everyday life, right? So why not offer an opportunity to practice the fundamentals of Pilates in a cardio workout, under the supervision of someone who can give you correct and detailed feedback in terms of placement and form, rather than some random aerobic class in a gym?

I know there are those who think Pilates in its pueest form is the "only" way, but talk to any elder and they will tell you that Joe Pilates changed his workout depending upon the body that was standing in front of him. How can we know that, if he stayed with us and learned the science that we now understand, he would not have incorporated some sort of cardiovascular fitness into his system? We can't. His work was constantly evolving until the day he died. I don't think there is anything wrong with adding his genius into other forms of exercise. We know his work was good but no single form of exercise is perfect and "does it all". I am a firm believer in the genius of Pilates, but I also know that exercise in any form is better than no exercise at all. We are a society of obese children for cying out loud. Let people exercise however you can get them to do it and use your expertise to make it more beneficial.

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTori Brown

I like your comments Tori. Like you, I have several group fitness certifications in addition to my Pilates.

My personal space is too small to have any cardio equipment, but I do encourage my clients to do something other than Pilates on their off days. I encourage anything they like to do as long as they can increase their heart rate. Walking is a favorite and I've even encouraged a few of the fitter ones to start a running program.

A real nerve hitter for me is the ads that say Pilates makes you lose weight. Goodness, you should see the faces of the potential clients when I tell them that Pilates by itself is not enough. Darn!

Personally, I like to separate Pilates from all the other stuff...Cardio-lates, Run-a-lites, jump-and-shout-alites, or whatever else is out there and just teach Pilates as I was trained. However, I almost always ask my clients if they had time to add a cardio workout to their routine and if not, if they planned to the following week.

Oh...and one more point. When I first starting to study Pilates back in the late 90s, I pretty much gave up everything else. I was so focused on my Pilates that other than walking my dog, I did almost no cardio. I didn't gain weight but I started to have some health problems. In 2003 I began a program of running and cycling which I continue to this day. It makes a huge difference and I really don't want to mislead my clients into thinking that Pilates alone is enough. I've noticed that yoga practictioners tend to believe that doing yoga alone is enough. I think that too might be a mistake.

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDevra

Simply put, the ability of your heart and lungs to work well is vital to living, whether you are doing Pilates, taking step class, walking your dog or swinging a kettlebell. This doesn't need to be a discussion for each of us to prove what we know about the function of the systems in our bodies and how it relates to Pilates. I think Tori and Devra have the right idea. We want the principles we teach to our clients within their Pilates workouts to translate into their lives-as Joe put it, teach them to be "...capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure." Our studio focuses on Pilates, but most of the trainers here have personal training certifications and advanced degrees so that we can use our FULL bag of tricks help them reach their goals. It is irresponsible to NOT address their cardiovascular fitness and important to keep creativity alive within their workouts without sacrificing form. At the same time, as a business owner, it is important to recognize what is going on outside of your studio (economic environment, industry trends, buying decisions) so that you can deliver a workout to them where they know/feel that it is a valuable and efficient use of their exercise time. We love them, but they are also our customers and need to keep them satified with our services (meeting their goals...). I commend studios that are moving with integrity in a variety of ways.

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAlaya

Whew, we've got some fiesty opinions here, eh? A tip on comments --- perhaps leave off implying that other trainers aren't really teaching Pilates when they incorporate additional methods.

Joe's teaching evolved over time, it wasn't static. We only advance when try new things -- some will be successful, some will be a different kind of learning experience. Some will even evolve to be named something else eventually -- everyday, I point out the yoga poses that Joe borrowed and made into his version of conditioning. Imitation is the highest form of flattery ;)

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Binnendyk

According to the American Heart Association almost 33% of all heart attacks that happen outside of the home happen in the gym.

I am sure all of your studios are up to date on CPR (the PMA no longer requires it) and are equipped with AED's which are required by law in some places. Increase in liability equals increase in insurance premium.

Check with your insurance carrier before you start investing in treadmills.

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpilatesmom


As tends to be true in the Pilates' community, we all take our work and personal practice very seriously and passionately (re: this forum). I want to clarify, up-front, that the purpose of my post here is not to debate whether there should/should not be a "cardio-Pilates" format; nor am I going to comment on the the nature of such. However, since I am fortunate to have studied Pilates from many angles, including having measured and published the cardio-respiratory/metabolic responses to matwork, I very much want to share (which might serve to keep the forum going in a positive and enlightening direction).

In 2004 when our Lab at Auburn University Montgomery studied the cardio-respiratory/metabolic cost of Pilates' Mat exercise we found and published the following:
-Basic/Beginner matwork has a mean oxygen cost of 12.3 ml/oxygen/kg which is 3.5 METS (4.0 kcal/minute).
-Intermediate matwork has a mean oxygen cost of 17.2 ml/oxygen/kg which is 4.9 METS (6.0 kcal/minute).
-Advanced matwork has a mean oxygen cost of 24.1 ml/oxygen/min which was 6.9 METS (7.5 kcal/min).

The bioenergetic pathway utilized to "fuel" the needed energy for each workout was "oxidative." Or, what is typically called "aerobic." Thus, the pathway supplying the needed energy is/was aerobic. So, why would some practitioners desire to add an "aerobic" (aka "cardio") component or create a hybrid workout with the intention of providing an aerobic element since "the" exercise is not anaerobic?

Let me share more... The cardio-metabolic cost of matwork tends to place most clients in the lower end of their aerobic/cardio training zone as follows:
Exhaustive research in this area by the ACSM has found that the energy cost of a workout needs to be 5.0 kcal/min or higher and/or between 50-85% of one's cardio-respiratory/aerobic capacity to cause an adaptation in the cardio-respiratory system. Our research showed that Intermediate and Advanced matwork met this criterion (6.0 and 7.5 kcal/min, respectively) and, based on the ACSM classification scheme, intermediate-advanced matwork is appropriately classified as providing a "Low-Moderate" stimulus to the aerobic/oxidative energy system.

In comparison, jogging a 9 minute mile has an aerobic oxygen cost of approximately 35.0 ml/oxygen/min which is 10 METS and 10.0 calories per minute (all caloric values shared here are standardized to 130 pound body weight).

Further, since the average aerobic fitness capacity of most women is around 38.0 ml/oxgen/min, Intermediate/Advanced matwork will place a relative cardio-respiratory/aerobically transduced energy load of 54.3% (of maximum) on those clients (i.e., will, on average place one at 54.3% of their target aerobic range - the lower end of their "aerobic zone"). The ACSM (and other authoritative bodies) recommend that to notably improve cardiovascular/aerobic fitness, one needs to raise their cardio-respiratory to between 50-85% of their aerobic/cardio-respiratory capacity.

Intermediate (and more-so) Advanced matwork crosses over the cardio conditioning threshold but, obviously, is not as "robust" as more typical forms of cardio exercise (such as running).

Again, matwork is not anaerobic. It is low-moderate intensity aerobic in terms of how the energy is transduced and supplied during the exercise. The energetics are not as steady-state as with running but, matwork does not use those energy systems that are anaerobic.

Since Pilates (at least matwork) is not anaerobic, does it mean that steps should be taken to add a more robust/higher aerobic intensity hybrid workout????? In doing so, does this change the work in a direction that is not "Pilates?" Or, as others have noted, does this simply help Pilates to evolve...

As an aside, a recent study on a Reformer apparatus that is housed with an elastic/mesh rebounder, found that the energy cost was much higher when interspersing jumping intervals with the traditional reformer work (I believe the machine is called the AeroPilates Rebounder). Subjects signifcantly increased their aerobic fitness and lost body fat.

So, again, is there a need to add cardio? Should Pilates integrate more robust cardio work? I'm not to say. As a researcher, I view Pilates work as largely muscular endurance (in terms of typical classification schemes i.e., is it most like to increase aerobic capacity, maximal strength, or muscular endurance). Muscular endurance exercise (repetition exercise at lower loads) is usually "fueled" by the aerobic/cardio-respiratory bioenergetic system. So, the results of our research did not surprise me (as intriguing as it is).

Again, seeing how passionate the forum-users have been with this particular topic, I did want to share bioenergetic information which, I do hope, will help teachers to determine why/whether/and-or how they might or might not further weigh this issue.

Best wishes to everyone!
Sincerely, Michele

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Olson, PhD

Michele, thank you for your information. I had to read it twice, but I completely understood what you were saying.

Were the same people used for the various levels of the mat/reformer work?

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield- Dreisbach

Exactly, Stacey, they did not due a study that included reformer work. And the study results in the ACE newsletter stated, Pilates was not cardiovascular. This was my complaint to PMA and ACE on the methodology of the study. Pilates isn't just matwork. My issue is not if it is or isn't cardio, but please take the whole system into account when you are trying to establish soemthing. I personally tell people to do cardio in addition to Pilates and I also tell people they are more likely to lose inches from Pilates not weight.

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah McKeever Watson

Dear Stacey:

In my study, the same subjects were tested, in random order, with the 3 levels of matwork. The AeroPilates Reformer study was a training study and the post results showed many improvements in fitness including increased cardiovascular fitness and decreased body fat.

The ACE study results for the Advanced matwork was similar to what we found for Intermediate matwork. The bioenergetic system used is the aerobic/oxidative one but, as I stated in the previous post, the "load" is low intensity and might not be enough of a stimulus to improve CV fitness or promote fat loss in those with a moderate level of fitness or higher.

But, is this what we want Pilates to provide? Aerobic/cardio conditioning? Or, should we suggest that clients (still) do 3 days a week of a traditional cardio activity for 30 minutes...

Thank you for your comments!

Take care, Michele

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Olson, PhD

I think that for most fit individuals Pilates does not meet the sustained required Vo2 estimates to be considered a cardio workout so
I tell my client to do cardio on their own for 30 minutes. I do have an eliptical trainer in my studio ( for my own use ) and my clients are welcome to use it before or after a session.

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLA

I have been working on various methods of breathing based on information and observations of some of Joe's video's. I have experimented with nose breathing vs nose/mouth breathing to see if one was more effective in developing more respiratory strength than the other.

Since the body is a vacumn, nose breathing seems to make more sense as a way to develop more respiratory strength.

Michele that is why I asked about the people used in the study. A beginning client should experience an overall strengthening of the body as they progress through the levels of the Pilates work. The respiratory system included.

I was hoping the study tracked the respiratory progress of a client. It would be interesting.

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterStacey Redfield- Dreisbach

Hi Stacey:

The AeroPilates study did track respiratory responses. The results were very positive. Sorry if that was not evident.

Best, Michele

February 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Olson

Dear Deborah:

Whenever I have presented my research, I have never stated that it speaks for all of Pilates (not to say that you were claiming I had).

To do quality/publish-able research on JUST mat Pilates, it took two entire months. I too wish there was more research on representative Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrell, Tower work/classes,...and then some.

If the PMA has stated that Pilates (as a whole system of exerise does/cannot not promote CV fitness), that is a mistake and a strong over-generalization from the few (mostly mat) studies that have been done.

I am glad that there are at least two, quality mat studies available. While ACE did not do EMG work, our lab's research on key Pilates abdominal mat exercises demonstrated clearly how robust the "Belly Series" is!

Thank you for your comments.
Sincerely, Michele

February 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMichele Olson

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