If I don’t sweat in Pilates, am I really working out?

Injury Prevention, Uncategorized

By Jamie Edgerton

I was in a cycling class the other day when the instructor excitedly announced that she’d been to her first Pilates class. I thought, wow, how is that even possible in this day and age, but was happy that she was proud of herself. My joy soon plummeted as she proceeded through the class interjecting bits and pieces of her Pilates experience. She was most concerned with the fact that she never “sweated.” I tried not to jump off of my bike and confront her but continued to listen to her dismissive tone about how cycling was much “harder work.” I took a few deep breaths and continued cycling, restraining myself from screaming over the booming speakers “YOU DON”T GET IT!!!! While I love a good, sweaty cycle class and seeing how many calories I burned, my 25 years of Pilates teaching experience has taught me that without my daily Pilates practice, I wouldn’t have the stamina or strength to cycle, walk or anything else I do in my day.

Pilates is not about sweating or burning calories. For me, it’s about keeping my chronic back pain from flaring up. The exercises in Pilates take years to fine tune and even understand. I’m reminded of this every time I take a class, workshop or training. While anyone can hop on a bike and make the wheels go around, it takes Olympic-level mental and physical control to perform some of the advanced exercises taught in Pilates. Most people stay in a Level 1 Pilates class for years without the need or ability to move to Level 2. Every exercise has so many nuances that must be performed mindfully and precisely. Even an expert is always working on improving the quality of their movement, not just the action being completed haphazardly. Pilates is not for the impatient and takes perseverance and time. As I tell my beginner students, it takes at least 10 lessons to even start to understand what the Pilates exercises are asking of your body. Not something we always like to hear in our “find a quick solution” world.

Just as we eat a variety of foods for a healthy diet, so should our exercise routine vary. For cardiovascular health, I walk and cycle. For range of motion and mental strength, I practice yoga and Gyrotonic. And for core strength and injury prevention, Pilates is THE answer. Controlling the body and mind does not come easily. So to my sweet, well-intentioned cycle instructor, I simply thanked her for the class, gave her an S2S card and wished her luck on her Pilates journey.


Jamie Edgerton graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Iowa State University and as an artist, she danced professionally in the San Francisco Bay area. She has been the director of her own jazz dance company for 7 years. Jamie is married and the mother of two teenage daughters who love to dance and do Pilates! Jamie has been a private and group Pilates instructor for 13 years. She is trained in Advanced Reformer, Intensive Reformer, Matwork & Stability Barre with Stott Pilates and Physical Mind Institute. She is also a Level 1 Gyrokinesis Instructor and has her 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification. Over the past 25 years, Jamie has taught dance and gymnastics to hundreds of students including Olympians and “So You Think You Can Dance” winners. She herself was a nationally ranked collegiate gymnast and went on to be a high-level USAG coach and judge.

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