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Wall Pilates: What’s All The Fuss About?

Wall Pilates

Unless you’ve been living off-grid for the past few months, you must’ve come across the latest fitness phenomenon to get everyone reaching for their lycra. The craze has soared in popularity thanks largely to Instagram and TikTok which are awash with adverts and influencers claiming to have seen incredible results within just four weeks.

As a Pilates teacher of nearly fifteen years, I’m always a bit suspicious when I hear about new variations on the practice… after all Josef Pilates, creator of the method, originally came up with only 34 exercises so how much reinventing of the wheel can really be done? I’ll level with you; some of those exercises in my opinion are not suitable for all exercisers; if you’ve ever seen someone with a sore lower back trying to perfect the ‘teaser’ you’ll know what I mean. So sure, I like to put my own little spin on them, provide adaptations and progressions, but some of the Pilates-inspired workouts over the years take it too far away from the tried and tested original form. I’ve tried Hot Pilates, Hit Pilates, Cardiolates and Yogalates. Fun they may be; Pilates they are not. 

When you look at regular Pilates practice we should be working towards the eight basic principles:

  • Relaxation

  • Concentration

  • Centring

  • Alignment

  • Breathing

  • Stamina

  • Flowing movement

So, the test for me with any workout that calls itself a form of Pilates is; are those eight principles at the heart of the workout structure, even if the exercises themselves look a little different? I decided to dig a bit deeper into Wall Pilates and see if it lives up to the hype. I read up, I researched, and most importantly I tried out a range of workouts from Insta, TikTok and YouTube. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it and all that jazz!

What is it?

Wall Pilates involves performing traditional exercises up against a wall, using the wall as a resistance tool, like you would the foot bar on a Pilates reformer machine. While it’s a huge viral trend on social media, there is little research either proving or disproving its efficacy compared to standard or reformer Pilates. 

What are the benefits?

Like regular Pilates, it’s low impact and therefore super kind to joints, making it a good option for those who have injuries. I found it strangely enjoyable and comforting having the wall for support and therefore found I could progress to harder level exercises quickly. It’s great for core activation and strength building because you get to use that nice solid resistance which the wall provides.

It’s also hugely accessible, the internet is pretty much bursting with fresh content uploaded daily. Oh and I should add; it’s cheap… I mean most of us have the internet and a wall don’t we? 

And the downsides?

Like any online workout, there’s nobody there to check your form, which is super important in any type of Pilates. Performing lots of repetitions with poor form can lead to injuries, aches and pains. Try to really study the form of the instructor in the video before you try it out yourself.

That however brings me to another potential downside. As we all know, the internet can be like the Wild West and the world of Wall Pilates is no different. Try and find a reputable instructor or company online as there’s literally nothing to stop an unqualified fitness influencer posting a workout which mightn’t be safe for you.

Is it fun?

You know what; I’m surprising myself here when I say yes - it’s a really enjoyable workout. Some of the moves are very inventive whilst still respecting the original exercises. It felt different and challenging but still familiar. As always, a lot of whether a class is enjoyable comes down to the instructor and it took some trawling to find the ones whose teaching style and communication I liked best. 

Which are the best accounts to follow?

The top three I came across on YouTube were:

Trifecta Pilates - I loved theirs because they were full length; so many of the others seemed to be 10-15 minutes which in my humble opinion isn’t long enough to feel the burn.

Rachel’s Fit - lots of shorter but quite intense 5-15 minute workouts which you can combine together. She incorporates weights which I always feel gives a good boost and she also offers a 28 day progressive challenge for those of you who are on a mission!

Jenna Collins Fitness - This is the one for you if you like really structured and challenging workouts. She takes no prisoners and her rock hard 6-pack is proof that she practices what she preaches.

Are results really that fast?

Ok; I hate to rain on anyone's parade. But like I always say with every new workout craze, there is no shortcut to being a healthy weight in the long-term. Wall Pilates is undoubtedly an enjoyable and effective workout (I definitely saw a difference in my glute shape and in my core strength pretty quickly) but it won’t work in isolation. 

Pair it with a healthy and nutritious diet, stick in a few sessions a week of heavier resistance and moderate intensity cardio and you’ll be flying. Think of Wall Pilates as the compliment to your regular training routine rather than being something to replace it. 

Wall Pilates will absolutely help you improve your balance, flexibility, core strength and stability. The key is being consistent and bearing that in mind, I think one of these trendy 28 day challenges could be a really good way to get that little kickstart we all crave as we hit the February slump.


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