How to Get Healthy Cardio in Pilates

The heart is a muscle that is kept healthy through movement.

The intensity is slightly less important than consistency. Your exercise program should be one you can sustain and which doesn't set you back with stress from over-exertion.

The American Heart Association used to recommended a daily goal for cardio exercise. They have recently changed their advice to a more open ended recommendation. Just keep moving.

Monitoring Your Cardio

You don’t have to do a lot of analysis to know if you are getting a cardio workout. The Center for Disease Control recommends the BORG rating of Perceived Exertion. It has been found that a person's perception of how hard they are working on a scale of 1 to 20 is a reliable estimate of their actual heart rate. Just estimate how hard you feel you are working and multiply it by 10 to get your heart-rate.

The markers that you should look for are increased heartbeat, heavier breathing, muscle fatigue, and sweating. You can use the BORG scale to monitor your working threshold and adjust accordingly during your workout. Moderate exercise is experienced in the 11 to 14 range and can be sustained for long periods. Vigorous exercise is felt between 17-19 (with 20 being intense physical strain that you should limit).  You should include both for a healthy heart.

Pick Up Your Pace in Transitions

Pilates can make you sweat and burn calories, but not until you master the Fundamental Reformer and Mat sequences AND know how to use the Reformer straps and settings for quick transitions. Watch our tiny tutorials on these subjects, or you can find more information on Pilatesology or Pilates Anytime.

If you are just learning you will progress faster if you invest in 10 Private lessons first. After that try to come to class or a Private at lease 2x week.

A typical Pilates workout will hold your heart-rate around 110 to 140 with some high intensity spikes during advanced exercises. This will not happen if you are always working at the beginner-level. You can still get benefits from a casual Pilates workout, but for cardio you need to work confidently at the intermediate level or above.

The intermediate Reformer workout includes at least 25+ movement sequences that are done without stopping. The more exercises you know, the more muscle groups you are going to activate. Keep in mind that each sequence is done 3-10x before changing to the next. This creates a dynamic workout that leaves you full of energy for the rest of your day.

Reformer and Mat 

The Pilates System is the combination of both the Reformer and Mat. Use them both for amazing results that make you feel great and look hot too.

The Reformer is essential for helping balance your strengths and weaknesses, and adding weight load to your exercises. The Pilates Mat is body-weigh exercise that can be done at home. The Reformer teaches you teaches you movement principles, the Mat builds control and self-mastery.

Hit the Shower in the Hour

A traditional Pilates workout is 50 minutes: 30-45 minutes on the Reformer, 15-25 minutes Mat or other apparatus, and 5 minutes cool-down.

Do it, do it right, do it often

The more precisely you do it, the better control you have over your technique. The better your control, the faster your transitions. The more efficiently you move, the better your workout.