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Pilates for the Elderly

For the past 15 years Pilates has become more and more popular in the fitness community.  Whether you’re old or young, it’s the perfect way to improve balance, mobility and core strength.

Keeping fit and mobile is essential, especially for seniors.  When I first started teaching Pilates, I would describe Pilates to potential new clients, as being the service for your body that we get for our car.  Pilates I said, will allow you to stay active and involved in the activities you want to do as you age.  We offer a senior mat class at our studio.  I am proud to say that many of these clients have been with us for more than 15 years now and many are now in their 80’s. We have many senior clients that attend sessions in our studio every week.

Pilates is great for older adults because it does not have the impact on the body that other forms of exercise do and is not nearly as severe on the joints as most workouts are.

Most conventional workouts tend to build short, bulky muscles prone to injury – especially in the body of an older adult.  Pilates focuses on a strong core, the deep abdominal muscles along with the muscles closest to the spine. 


Pilates for older adults, particularly on a Reformer, is wonderful because it is a relatively light resistance.  The Reformer challenges an older adult’s balance through standing and kneeling exercises with a focus on alignment and posture.

Pilates centres on movements at the midrange of the body instead of the extremities.  Pilates develops the midrange first and then gradually works towards the end range, while maintaining control around the joints. To the benefit of older adults, Pilates teaches control and stability in a small range of motion, graduating to a larger range of motion as they gain control and confidence.

Increased control and stability are crucial for older adults as it can help improve much of their functional movement, including balance and posture.  As we age, we lose our balance and co-ordination.  Pilates increases strength and flexibility in both the core and the legs, which positively affects balance.  This can help them reduce the risk of falls.  Pilates is also a good way for older adults to rehab from surgical procedures like a hip replacement or knee surgery.