Pilates exercises and programs have been associated with weight loss, toning up and “looking good” on social media for a long time, however, what is the reality.  Is the PIlates the key to having those toned “abs” and firm physique?  In this article, we will explore the reality of what Pilates is and what it isn’t in making your look good as well as feel good.

Weight Loss Benefits of Pilates

The biggest effect Pilates has on weight loss is not about the amount of kilojoules you burn during the workout (which is a minimal 502kj for a 30 min Pilates session, about ½ of a Mars bar), but the effect it has on building muscle mass.

Pilates training helps in building muscle mass, which effectively has a multiplier effect on your metabolism. Metabolism is the combination of all the chemical reactions in your body that produce energy for activity, growth and everything else. 66% of energy expenditure is from metabolism produced by lean tissue (all tissues in your body including muscle, but excluding body fat). By helping to build muscle mass, Pilates helps increase your overall metabolism.

As a result, unlike cardio training (repetitive low-load exercise), building more muscle means that everything you do burns more energy, such as walking down the street, brushing your teeth and even sleeping, without you putting in more effort. In fact, it makes your cardio workouts more effective because you burn more energy doing the same level of activity as before, but usually with less effort because you have more muscle mass.

Pilates has a large effect on your body shape

One of the biggest benefits of Pilates is not just been about the weight you lose, but on the shape of your body. By working on your major stabilising muscles, such as around your back, hips, pelvis and shoulder blades, you stand straighter and have better control of your body movements. As a result, your frame is taller, leaner and the way your body looks is different.


What to wear during Pilates

Pilates vs. Other Forms of Exercise

Whichever form of exercise that you choice in your weight loss journey, you must remember that exercise only plays a small role compared to your metabolism (exercise contributes 17% to energy expenditure compared to 66% from metabolism).

For example, if you dong a higher intensity activity, such as an extra run of 30 mins at 9 km/h, this increases your energy expenditure by only 1340kj (The equivalent of a 1 and ¼ Mars Bar!), which is why most people put on weight with a cardio-based weight loss program.

Pilates vs. Traditional Resistance Training

Pilates and traditional resistance training, like weight lifting, have their benefits and drawbacks. Pilates emphasizes whole-body strength, flexibility, and balance, which can improve overall functionality, reducing the risk of injury and contribute to a leaner, more toned appearance.

However, Pilates may not provide the same level of muscle growth as traditional weight lifting, which focuses on isolating specific muscle groups and allows for a greater range of progressive overload. This may have a larger effect on helping improve your lean muscle mass, which in turn increases your metabolism. The combination of Pilates and classical strength training seems to work best, with Pilates focussing on the stabilising muscles, to improve form and posture and creating a great base to effectively incorporate classical strength training

To read more about the benefits of Pilates on muscle gain, click on our blog:

Does Pilates Build Muscle?

Incorporating Pilates into a Weight Loss Plan

The most effective way to achieve weight loss with Pilates is with the combination of a well designed and structure meal plan.

Matching your exercise to your nutrition is a major factor in achieving your weight management goals. The quality of your nutrition dictates your workout output, intensity and recovery, resulting in optimal outcomes. This does not mean cutting kilojoules but ensuring you have enough of the right nutrients to match your body’s needs. We wish to avoid starving the body as it results in reducing muscle mass and a poor long-term outcome.

To read more about good nutrition and weight loss, download our book:

7 Ways to a healthy lifestyle and read Chapter 5 – Nutrition

Women in 40s lifting

The Role of The Instructor

The role of a qualified exercise professional, such as a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or osteopath is to guide you through the exercises, ensure you are using the correct form, and tailor the workouts to meet your specific needs and goals. It is our job to see the things that you don’t see and steer you in the right direction, to get more effective results, sooner.

Success Story

A success story from a 44 year old, professional business coach.

“I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly healthy, active women in the middle age of my life. In 2017 I injured my left knee and loosely had some physiotherapy to rehabilitate. I used a band-aid approach and was getting on with my life in a reasonably okay way, enjoying hiking, yoga and sacrificing running and intense workouts due to a bad knee. I always experienced a stop start stop start journey with exercise as my knee would flare up whenever I got to a certain point in my physical development.

When we went into lockdown after lockdown in Melbourne the only thing I could do was walk or run outside for exercise which really put the emphasis on having good knees. I never thought of really committing to the exercise programme at MD health before as it didn’t look like a traditional gym that I would normally go to, to workout at. I started an exercise programme at MD Health as it offered me a space to strategically build up strength and resilience in my body. Being an executive coach, I also understood that one’s body speaks one’s mind and an opportunity to building strength and resistance in my body during a pandemic would certainly build strength and resistance in my mind to manage the ups and downs of a global pandemic.

Four months on after lockdown restrictions eased and having committed to a combination of telehealth and in practice session, I have in four weeks completed a hike at the Grampians, Werribee Gorges, The Dandenong’s and Cape Shank. I was pleasantly surprised that the discomfort I felt in my body was minimal and recovery was so fast that it enabled me to keep on with more hikes. I am now starting to run once a week, which is something I never thought I would be able to do again due to the damage I did on my knee in 2017. I’m loving the freedom of choice of adventures I go on and exploring the interesting hikes Victoria has to offer”


In conclusion, Pilates can be an effective tool in your weight loss arsenal. Its focus on core strength, flexibility, and overall body toning, coupled with cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet, can lead to sustainable weight loss and improved fitness.

Remember, a qualified exercise professional such as a physiotherapist, exercise physiologist or osteopath can help you set achievable weight loss goals, be consistent with your workouts, pair Pilates with cardiovascular exercise, and maintain a balanced diet.

Be patient. Weight loss is a journey that requires commitment and perseverance. With the right approach and mindset, you’ll be on your way to achieving your weight loss goals with Pilates.

Do you have any questions?

  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our clinical staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.


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*Please note only the Full Body Assessment is a FREE service. The Full Body Assessment is for new clients at MD Health or returning clients who haven’t been in for 6 months or longer who intend to particpiate in our 13 Week Clinical Pilates Program**.

For all new clients who wish to come in for a one-off, casual or adhoc basis for Physiotherapy or Exercise Physiology the Initial Physiotherapy or Initial Exercise Physiology appointment is a paid service.

** The 13 Week Clinical Pilates Program at MD Health is not a lock in contract and you are not required to attend for the full 13 weeks if you do not wish.

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