Perhaps one of my favorite things about Pilates is that is has completely revamped my idea of exercise. The current trend of "no pain, no gain" absolutely isn't true. With Pilates, most exercises consist of 3-8 reps so it doesn't tear the muscles as in many weight room regimens, necessitating significant repair via at least 48-hours of rest. Fewer reps means you can also maintain excellent form throughout and never need to compensate or cheat. You can also do Pilates every day. Can you imagine doing CrossFit or other equally intense routines 7 days a week? For years on end?
Initially, I was concerned about what kind of progress would be possible if I wasn't pushing myself to the point of needing rest and recovery. I now know that plenty of growth is available. The progress is real, and it is significant with hardly any soreness. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've been too sore to workout the next day after doing Pilates (and that's usually only on the days when I do 3 hours of it), yet the change in my body is compelling. It's something that blows my mind after decades of being told otherwise. This is certainly not what was taught in my Strength and Conditioning Coach certification course.
Pilates has taught me that not only can the body change with gentle urging, but also how much it appreciates not being banged up. Not only am I stronger than I ever was with my up to 6x/week weight room sessions, my strength is uniform. My weak links no longer prevent me from doing certain exercises, like when my tired neck stopped all the core work. Not only is my body stronger in its muscles, but also in immunity. While I used to catch colds and flus quite readily, I find that with regular Pilates, I rarely get sick and when I do, it lasts for a day or two. Is this because I'm not overdoing the physical activity and wearing myself out? Is it because I'm breathing better and regularly pumping the lymph through my body? I don't know the exact physiology, but in some way, it's my body telling me that whatever I'm doing is working.
And the best part is that it will keep working. We don't usually think about the sustainability of our physical fitness routines until we are injured and in pain. Believe me, I used to do a set of DVDs called Insanity. And it was insanely challenging and invigorating until I aggravated my hip, which continued hurting for years to come. My Pilates workouts, on the other hand, can not only challenge me now but are also maintainable into my old age. Take a look on my Joe webpage of not only how amazing Joseph Pilates was at 59 but also at 82. Twenty-three years hardly changed him.
So why do I do Pilates? Because it's gentle yet powerful and challenging yet sustainable. It works me out without wearing me out. Turns out that there's plenty to gain without pain.