Is Pilates Good For Toning? Yes! But exercise can be so much more!


We used to be completely obsessed with using exercise as a method to lose weight, tone our muscles and change our external appearance. This was what it was ALL about. 

Can you relate? Do you focus your exercise on weight loss alone? 

Is your goal to use your Pilates workout to tone your muscles and get thinner?

Are you always on the hunt for the next exercise program to transform your body and to burn more calories?

There can be absolutely nothing wrong with these goals. 

However, for us, these goals began to take over our minds and our lives. 

Weight loss became the most important thing on our minds. 


We were constantly thinking about calories in and out. We felt guilty after over indulging. We felt guilty after skipping a workout. We felt anxious when choosing what food to eat at a restaurant, fear of not knowing what exactly was in the dish. 

Between us we’d tried ALL the diets, from the lemon detox diet, gluten free, celebrity shakes, lite n easy, cabbage soup diet, of course, paleo and then keto and sugar free. Restrictive eating was ‘normal’ and so was binge eating. I (Emma) became bulimic from ages 17-22.

We were well and truly sucked into the world of Diet Culture!

As you can see, for us, these goals were not healthy. Everything was wrong with them! 

These goals made us unhealthy and sick in mind, body and soul. 

From losing our periods, imbalanced hormones, lack of energy and the mental load of prioritising our weight on the scales over most things in life made a huge negative impact. 

Fast forward to now, we don’t subscribe to any diet. We eat stacks of veggies and healthy proteins. We do eat pizza, pasta and gelato when we want them. We eat to feel good. We eat for joy. We eat to create memorable experiences! We eat to nourish!

What about exercise?


Once upon a time, for us, exercise was used like a form of punishment for all the ‘bad’ food we ate. 

Now, movement is part of our daily lives, as a method to welcome joy, to promote health and vitality and to simply help us feel good in mind and body. Now, we care more about all the other effects of pilates and exercise, not just weight loss! Positive effects like, better posture, better moods and feel-good hormone release (this comes from all exercise), better balance (important as we age) and an increase in bone density. The list goes on!

This massive change in our mindset did not happen overnight.

To go back to the topic of this blog post that raises the question, is Pilates good for toning? The answer is YES, but for us, it was also Pilates that helped us make the huge mindset shift with our exercise. It was Pilates that helped us be less obsessed about the toning! But how?

We combined Yoga, Pilates and a mindset practice of Self Acceptance. 

These movement practices work best as they connect mind, body and breath. Meaning, they create a deep sense of presence. They help you to be in your body while you are moving. As opposed to in your mind where you might be thinking self-critical thoughts like: 

  • I need to work out extra hard because I had dessert last night.
  • She is much thinner than me, she doesn’t have any fat poking between her yoga pants and crop.
  • I hate my arms so much, yuck look at them. 

Thoughts like these went through our minds for years and years, especially while we exercised. 

And wow, the moment you realise your thoughts are no longer a continuous monologue of self-criticising nonsense you realise EVERYTHING has changed for the better!

And know this: if you’re still in the monologue, you don’t have to stay there! There absolutely, is another way to live and to think. 

And now that I am a Pilates instructor and Carla is a Yoga teacher, you understand why our style of Yoga and Pilates does not focus on the weight loss and external transformation aspects. It’s also great to remember that these kinds of physical changes can and will occur from any form of exercise.

Although we do not focus solely on the physical transformation, it doesn’t mean we are ‘anti-weight loss’ it doesn’t mean we are against your goal of wanting to tone your butt.

It just means we care about HOW you do it.

We care about your reasons WHY.

We also want you to know that a toned bum does not make you any better than the version of you with more lumps and cellulite. Both versions of your butt are amazing.

Alright glad we got that sorted, now let’s talk about why Pilates is a great method to tone your body. 

Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates back in the 1920s. The principles of Pilates include concentration, control, center, breath, fluidity and precision. What started as a set of Pilates exercises that he called Contorolgy has now become a popular method of movement across the world. 

3 Reasons Why Pilates is Good for Toning


Pilates movements are repetitive

Whether you do mat Pilates or Reformer Pilates, in a Pilates class you will find yourself doing repetitive and controlled movements. These repetitive movements use your body weight and various Pilates equipment pieces. They create tone and muscle strength in your body. 

Our preference and the style of Pilates we teach is mat based and we love it for many reasons! 

The main reason is that mat Pilates is a lot more accessible. It’s very doable to own a Pilates or Yoga mat, not so easy to own a Pilates reformer machine! 

Mat Pilates also helps you gain a deeper connection to your body as you require more awareness to hold yourself correctly without the assistance of equipment. 

This action of repetitive movement plus stability work is why Pilates helps you create a strong core, you’ll be activating those core muscles and switching on core stability in all the moves! And yes, core strength will help you create toned abs BUT more importantly it can create improved postural alignment! Better posture means less back pain. Yes please!

Full Body Strength and Stretch Based Movement

Pilates is the ultimate effective exercise because during the movements you work on strengthening and stretching your body. Not only does this help you get stronger across all muscles groups, increase your range of motion and therefore flexibility but it also contributes to the tone of your muscles. 

It’s a balanced form of exercise and because it works with the body as a whole, with the right Pilates teacher or personal trainer, you won’t overwork a singular part of your body. This is why within our MerryBody Yoga and Pilates App we create a weekly plan that works your body in a balanced way.

It’s fun! So You Actually Do it!

To tone the muscles, what you need to do is work the muscles. You can do this with any exercise BUT the most important part is that you do it consistently. You can’t do one Pilates class and expect more muscle tone and strength! You need to create a regular Pilates practice. 

This is why you need to enjoy your workout. When you enjoy your movement you’ll find it easier to roll out the mat. This is why joy is a core value within our MerryBody classes. 

First step: is to find a movement that you love, for us it’s Pilates. Second step: schedule your sessions into your week.

Whether it’s every weekday or 3 times a week! Find the right amount of sessions that fit into your life! Then move your body and start practicing Pilates! 

Now, surely you are in the mood to try out Pilates! The best thing you can do right now is head on over here and sign up for a Free Pilates Class! We will send it straight to your inbox. 


The class is called Feel Amazing Pilates, it’s just 20 minutes. We love this class, it’s a total body workout and we’re so excited to share it with you!

Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

ps. Our Mum practises MerryBody Pilates classes almost every day!  

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