Pilates vs Gym: Should You Take a Pilates Class or Traditional Gym?

by | May 10, 2019 | Training

Pilates is an exercise that is gaining more and more popularity, especially because of all the benefits it provides. While Pilates can help you gain strength like the gym, it can also make you more aligned and balanced, giving you an overall better workout and leaner appearance! Learn more about the results you see from pilates vs. the results you see from a gym workout, right here.

Depending on your fitness goals, you might prefer pilates over your regular gym workout, or vice versa, as they work the body in different ways and give you completely different appearances.

  • Pilates is great for strengthening the core and toning the body. Pilates workouts allow you to achieve a leaner appearance and a more balanced and properly aligned body.
  • Gym workouts are great for bulking up, building muscle and burning calories.

Pilates is a low-impact exercise that is performed on a mat and involves flexibility, strength and endurance. It focuses on proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance for an overall body workout. Pilates is named for its creator, Joseph Pilates, who developed the exercise in the 1920s.

Gyms offer machines and equipment to push you to work your body and muscles in different ways. Gym workouts can be loaded with fantastic exercises that include cardio, weight lifting and bulking up. There are countless exercises you can do at the gym — how you use it and what you do there is up to you.  Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two exercises.


Pilates vs. Gym: How are they similar?

Both pilates and gym workouts can get your heart rate up, and help you build muscle, lose weight, and relieve stress. In order to reap the benefits of each of these exercises and see results, it is important to do them correctly and on a regular basis.

In addition to using a mat, Pilates also utilizes different equipment to help maximize benefits, just like the gym. Pilates equipment includes things like the Pilates cadillac, reformer, tower, magic circle, and more. Each piece is designed to help accelerate the process of stretching, strengthening, and aligning the body, and increasing core strength.


Pilates vs. Gym: How are they different?

Pilates is an exercise that focuses on body control, breathing and flexibility, as well as strength and muscle toning without building bulk. Its main focus is the strengthen the core and align the spine, while when at the gym, each exercise requires a different focus because you have to work your muscle groups separately.

There are six key principles of Pilates.

  1. Concentration allows you to focus on the exercise you are doing, so you can reach maximum benefits.
  2. Control ensures complete muscular control.
  3. Centering brings focus to the center of the body or the core.
  4. Breathing is an integral part of Pilates, as every exercise coordinates with the breath.
  5. Flow and fluidity are important in Pilates exercises because you must move your body in the correct way.
  6. Precision is the root of the exercise. Each movement has a precise placement.

As you can see, Pilates is a very disciplined practice that requires focus, as well as a positive mindset. By following the six key principles, Pilates can help you break a sweat and give you that toned (and lean) body you’ve been after the past six months at the gym.

There are tons of Pilates classes offered at gyms, studios, and more. It may take you some time (and a few classes) to find a class and instructor that works for you. Just remember, the slower the pace a Pilates class is, the more meditative and stress relieving it can be. Likewise, the faster the pace, the more challenging it gets. So, which one are you after?


Pilates vs. Gym

We Put them Head to Head in 10 Different Categories, See Who the Winner Is.

  1. Best for Fat Loss: While many exercises will help you take the necessary steps to lose weight, there are some that help you burn more fat than others. Doing cardio at the gym may help you lose weight, but Pilates can work your whole body and will likely burn more calories quicker than especially when using Pilates machines, which can actually add the cardio and fitness element, making Pilates a winner when it comes fat loss.
  2. Best at Building Muscle: Lifting weights at the gym will bulk up your muscles, while Pilates will allow you to build muscle without bulk. Depending on the intensity of the exercise and the appearance you are looking for, one can be better than the other when it comes to building muscle. For the sake of this article, we’re going with the gym here.
  3. Best at Strengthening Core: Both Pilates and gym workouts can strengthen the core. However, core strength is the main focus in Pilates, and the intensity of Pilates provides a better benefit, making it a winner in this category.
  4. Most Calories Burned – Shortest Time: This can depend on the type of workouts you are doing at the gym. If you are running for 30 minutes, you can burn roughly 300 calories. In an average 30-minute Pilates class you can burn 180 calories, and if you continue, you can burn an additional 90 calories every 15 minutes. The winner here is the gym (if you are doing cardio).
  5. Best Full Body Workout: Pilates is a full-body workout that uses a series of equipment and exercises to tone muscles, strengthen the core, burn calories, and more. In Pilates, you are also working both sides of your body evenly, which is an added bonus, whereas, at the gym, you have to work each muscle separately. Pilates is the winner here.
  6. Best Option for Busy People: Gyms require a commute, which can add some time onto your day. The best option for busy people is Pilates, as it can be done in a class or at home.
  7. Best for Back Pain: Pilates movements focus on aligning the spine and strengthening the upper and lower back, joints, and core, which are essential for relieving back pain. Gym workouts can strain the muscles and cause injury. Pilates is our winner here.
  8. Best for Stress Relief: Pilates and the gym can both get the heart rate up and help relieve stress. We would recommend Pilates for a stress reliever but we’re leaving it up to personal preference.
  9. Best for Mental Health: All types of exercising can benefit mental health. However, Pilates adds more of a controlled connection to self and pushes you to focus on breathing and the movements, which is far better for your mind than pushing that last rep or sprinting that last lap.
  10. Best for Joint Mobility/Stretching: Pilates is the winner here, as it focuses more on stretching, balance, and flexibility.

As you can see, Pilates and gym workouts both have their pros and cons, which is for you depends on what your fitness goals are. Unlike the gym, Pilates helps strengthen and lengthen muscles, giving you a leaner appearance. Do you want to get lean or do you want to bulk up? By doing Pilates, you can create a leaner and better you from your core muscles out — and isn’t that what everyone is looking for? A strong core, strong glutes, a toned body, and a leaner appearance.

Do you think there is a shift of the “ideal” body from the bulky gym body to the leaner pilates body?


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