It’s no secret that we’re all in our Pilates era. But in the past few months, something new has dropped onto the radar. Social media ads promoting Wall Pilates—or some form of a 28-day Wall Pilates challenge—have become prolific. These trendy videos usually feature an already fit woman doing Pilates moves with her legs against the wall, coupled with a statement like ‘I tried this for 7 days, and now my body is totally changed.’ The hype is out there—but does Wall Pilates work?
The short answer: it all depends on how you define success. If your goal is simply to get moving and find something that excites you enough to stay consistent—yes, Wall Pilates can be a great gateway. But if you’re looking to radically transform your body, especially in a short period like 28 days, doing Wall Pilates alone simply won’t get you there.
To get the real talk on Wall Pilates—benefits, highlights, and limitations—we turned to our in-house Pilates expert, Mary W. Read this to set the right expectations for yourself if you’re thinking of trying out Wall Pilates.
What Is Wall Pilates?
To understand if Wall Pilates works, we first have to understand what it is.
Pilates in general is an anaerobic type of strength training involving short bursts of higher-intensity movements that have no-to-low impact. Precision, control, and concentration are key as you fire up smaller muscles to work with larger muscle groups. Originally developed as a rehabilitation method for injuries, Pilates stretches and strengthens muscles while constantly activating your core (aka your powerhouse).
In Wall Pilates, all the same rules and structures apply. The main difference between this trend and a typical Mat Pilates class is that Wall Pilates will use the wall as a prop, which you’ll press your feet into. “Not only is it a form of resistance, but the wall is also a tool for stability and balance,” explains Mary. Because of the added stability for working muscle groups, Wall Pilates is a good option for beginners.
P.S. obé has 850+ on-demand Pilates classes you can do at home (from beginner to advanced options)—plus a 3-week Pilates Essentials training program that progresses from mat-based fundamentals to more complex reformer-style movement progressions.
Benefits of Wall Pilates
Pilates as a modality has a seriously impressive list of science-baked benefits for all fitness levels and stages of life. It’s widely promoted by physical therapists for injury prevention and rehab, as well as by doctors for overall health and quality of life. Some of our favorite perks:
- Builds strength in the entire body, especially the core
- Supports your posture with an emphasis on full-body alignment
- Can decrease back pain by strengthening stabilizer muscles
- Reduces risk of injury and chronic pain
- Boosts mobility (range of motion of your joints) and flexibility (how much you can stretch a muscle)
- Levels up your balance with tons of coordination work
- Strengthens your bones, especially with resistance
So, does Wall Pilates work any better—or add any more benefits—than regular Mat Pilates? Not really. “There aren’t any benefits to Wall Pilates that can’t already be achieved by a Mat Pilates class,” says Mary. Indeed, research supporting claims about specific Wall Pilates benefits is scarce, with most of these ‘exclusive perks’ being anecdotal or assumed based on studies examining traditional Pilates.
As mentioned above, the wall does provide resistance—but that can also be added to your Pilates exercises with props like resistance bands, a Pilates ring, or even a towel. Some claim that the wall prop mimics the benefits of a reformer Pilates class, which uses a bed-like machine to increase intensity and help you move through a full range of motion. But again, you can tap into a majority of all the same benefits with Mat Pilates—one is not superior to the other.
The biggest perk of Wall Pilates, in Mary’s opinion? “It can provide you with new and creative ways to do some of the traditional exercises you see in Pilates.” We love options—and modifications!
Limitations of Wall Pilates
The biggest limitation of Wall Pilates is also the main attraction: the wall itself. “At a certain point, you won’t be able to progress much only using a wall as a prop, since you can’t turn up the resistance or change your elevation to increase intensity,” says Mary. Plus, while some say the wall helps tune your form, it can also make it more challenging to get proper alignment (especially if you’re a newbie).
Those brand new to fitness, strength training, or Pilates are likely to feel strength and balance improvements at first. But in any form of strength training, it’s important to progress and scale up your resistance (think: lifting heavier weights, using a together resistance band) as you progress. Otherwise, you’ll hit a plateau as your body becomes more effective at each exercise.
For that reason, Mary doesn’t recommend it for those more advanced in their Pilates practice—or those looking to achieve more long-term fitness results like changes in body composition or weight loss. If you’re already active, swapping other fitness modalities for Wall Pilates alone as your primary means of movement won’t expedite your fitness progress.
Does Wall Pilates Work?
Our verdict: Wall Pilates is a legitimate Pilates class option for beginners, but a) it isn’t any “better” than Mat Pilates, b) it shouldn’t be your only form of exercise, and c) you shouldn’t expect it to transform your body overnight. A well-balanced workout routine should include 2-3 weekly strength training sessions (like Pilates Sculpt, Barre, Yoga, or Strength on obé), plus 150 weekly minutes of cardio (think: Boxing, Walks, Run, Dance Cardio, HIIT). (Read this to get the scoop on why.)
As for the 28-day challenge formats? “There’s really nothing that will drastically change your physique in 28 days,” says Mary. “It would take a serious dedication to strength training that incorporates progressive overload, a particular diet, and a calorie deficit to see the changes these ads promote with Wall Pilates.” To see tangible differences in strength gains (like muscle tone) from Pilates classes, you’d need at least a 12-week commitment, according to experts.
Instead of being promoted as a get-fit-fast scheme, Wall Pilates should simply be highlighted as another entryway into Pilates, a modification option within your mat practice, or a means of providing extra stability, Mary adds.
So, does wall Pilates work? Only if it works for you! At obé, we’re all about helping you find the movement modality that helps you tune into your body, gets you excited to show up, and makes a difference you can feel. The more you try out and sample, the better. Just make sure you’re taking class from well-trained and qualified instructors who know what they’re doing (luckily, we got that part covered).
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