I have received more than a few questions recently about Pilates like: Is Pilates good for weight loss? What are the health benefits of the practice? How to go about studying Pilates?
Pilates is strength training with flexibility training thrown in as a bonus. While both are essential to a well-rounded workout program, it is aerobic exercise that most directly helps weight loss. While Pilates will make you stronger and help you build long and lean muscles, it doesn’t burn up the calories like cardio exercises like running, swimming or putting the miles on an elliptical. Much of the focus of Pilates is on posture and how the entire body works, or not - since Pilates can be about turning off over working muscles, in an exercise.
It has been my experience that Pilates makes everything better from running to tennis, yoga to gardening. Primarily because it strengthens your core in many different ways and positions. These exercises directly translate to real life activities. When you use the Pilates equipment you work against spring resistance, increasing the strength training aspect of the method.
The most affordable way to experience Pilates is to take a group class. If you can afford it, taking a few privates sessions is a great way to jump start your practice. In a private you can really focus on the subtle details that separate Pilates from a lot of other forms of exercise. DVDs are great, but nothing can replace a live instructor and instant feedback.