Pilates may not match running or Zumba in calorie-scorching, but it still helps work off some energy. Exactly how many calories your workout burns depends on so many factors that it's impossible to be 100 percent sure unless you're doing your roll-ups and single-leg stretches in the lab.
However, you can guesstimate your burn rate by considering a few factors:
- What's your size?
- How rigorous was class?
- What type of Pilates? (Mat, Reformer or other equipment)
The answers to these questions can help you determine your calorie burn rate during an hour of Pilates.
Your weight determines how many calories you burn in Pilates. Larger people burn more calories, and smaller people burn fewer. It just takes less energy, or calories, to run a smaller engine. For example, in a beginner Pilates class, a 150-pound person burns an estimated 252 calories in one hour. But, if you weight less — say 130-pounds — you burn 218 calories. A 180-pound person burns more: 302 calories in an hour.
Men also tend to burn more calories than women due to their larger size and greater amount of lean muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, whether you're working out or just sitting around.
How hard you worked in class and the difficulty of the exercises influence your calorie burn rate. If you're working at an intermediate level, the burn rate for a 150-pound person goes up to 351 calories per hour and for advanced, 432 calories.
A mat workout performed at an intermediate or advanced level does seem to burn enough calories to promote general fitness if done often enough during the week, explains a study published by the IDEA Health and Fitness Association. If you want to lose weight using Pilates workouts, you'll have to commit to four to five advanced or intermediate workouts per week along with dietary changes.
It's also not clear if estimates provided by calorie calculators refer to mat Pilates or reformer, so keep in mind that these numbers are very much an estimation, rather than gospel.Whether a mat Pilates or equipment-based practice is more rigorous is hard to say — it depends on what you're doing.
Suffice it to say that if you're breathing heavily and find your heart rate up, chances are you're burning more calories than you are when you're deliberately honing technique in a specific move.
Warmups and Cool Downs
Remember that calorie counters assume that you're working hard for the entirety of the hour. If you count the warmup and cool down in your calorie calculations, you're probably overestimating your burn rate.
An hour-long Pilates workout that includes 5 to 10 minutes of lower-intensity warm-up moves and 5 to 10 minutes of stretches at the end is better calculated as a 45-minute workout even when you're estimating your effort.