I Scoured The ‘Net For Body-Positive Pilates Videos So You Don’t Have To

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A person holds a core-strengthening pose on a mat in front of a lake. Body-positive Pilates videos c...

By focusing on breathing, posture, and strengthening your entire core, Pilates exercises are both gentle and hardcore. Since its founding as a form of injury recovery by Joseph and Clara Pilates in the 1920s, this practice has been a way for people to cultivate a fitness practice that integrates their full body and mind. If you're looking to start a routine of your own, however, it can be difficult to find body-positive Pilates YouTube videos.

In a February 2019 interview, Black Girl Pilates founder Sonja Herbert told that the Pilates industry can be lonely for people of color and folks with various body types. The very specific image of white and slim fitness as the ideal creates huge barriers for people who don't fit that mold to grab their mats and join in.

Sure enough, it was a struggle to find even a few Pilates videos that aren't inadvertently into body-shaming, or on playlists with other videos that are. In my solemn mission to comb through the Pilates videos available on the 'net, I found so many videos that emphasized being "leaner," toning, or "blasting" fat. If those are some of your goals, that's more than OK. But many folks might want to avoid that language, especially if you have a history of being told that your body needs to change in order to be valid (because truly, it doesn't).

Honoring your body as valid is especially important here, because Pilates can be a great way to introduce yourself to fitness. Because it's a low-impact form of exercise, Pilates can be helpful for joint or muscular pain. It also builds muscular endurance and strength, not to mention mental stamina. YouTube can be a great way for people to get access to body-inclusive Pilates instruction. These four Pilates YouTube videos and one other online program offer body-positive options for you to start cultivating your own practice today.


Beginner's Pilates Fundamentals

This beginner's video from the channel Annie Pilates Physical Therapist offers a 15-minute introduction to Pilates. This video is unique because Annie is accompanied by her cousin, who is new to Pilates — perhaps just like you. Being able to watch someone else learn along with you can be a great way to feel confident in yourself as you try something new.


Pilates With Hannah

In this introductory video to her 30-day Pilates series, certified Pilates instructor Hannah emphasizes that as you're building your Pilates practice, you do not have to exercise every day. She encourages viewers to listen to their bodies, taking rests as often as needed, which can always include multiple days off. This welcoming attitude is really helpful for people just beginning their Pilates practice.


Hips Yoga With Jessamyn Stanley

Although this is technically a yoga video, Jessamyn Stanley is an expert at bringing you through poses you'll need to help you open up your hips after possibly sitting at a desk all day. In this video, Stanley gently encourages a flow that will help bring movement back to your hips, and the stretches you learn here offer a helpful introduction to the hip flexibility your new Pilates routine will help you develop. Because increasing hip flexibility definitely translates into more efficient, effective Pilates work.


8-Minute Gentle Pilates Flow

Certified Pilates instructor and wellness coach Isa-Welly Locoh-Donou guides you through this exercise flow that won't take you very long, but will leave you feeling recharged. This Pilates flow will guide your breath along with your body and help you get accustomed to the movements associated with your new practice in a gentle, fluid fashion.


The Be.come Project

If you've exhausted the world of YouTube, you might be into the be.come project. This body-neutral approach to fitness assumes that you won't feel positive about your body all the time, and that's OK. Once you become a member for $35 a month (you can try your first 10 days of Pilates-inspired classes for free), you will have access to one instructional video per week so that you have an entire seven days to build your own practice around these accessible movements.


Whatever your experience with Pilates, it's important to make sure you feel comfortable with your practice and your instructor. When you don't have the time or ability to find an inclusive Pilates class in person, these YouTube videos and online programs are a great way to give your body the Pilates love it deserves.

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