In a previous issue of Inner IDEA Body-Mind-Spirit Review, we asked: What types of challenges do you face when working with overweight or obese Pilates clients and what solutions have you found?

“I’ve found that obese clientele are generally reluctant and even have difficulty getting down to the floor and back up again. Therefore, mat work can be a turn off. The reformer may be a better solution for a couple of reasons: 1. the reformer is usually higher off the ground and therefore easier to get up and down from (or in this case on and off). 2. The legs and arms are usually supported by the cables when doing Pilates on the reformer; therefore, the client will feel less strain when doing exercises with legs or arms up. However, there will be more of a challenge in creating core stability due to the extra weight in the limbs and therefore a need to take it slow and teach proper foundation and form. I also find using more springs can take some of the challenge out of the core while putting more challenge on the limbs.

“If mat work is the only option try using tubing in place of the cables, and convert reformer exercises to floor movements. It can also be helpful to teach an obese person to get up and down from the floor properly.”

– Nancy Maurer, Kenosha, Wisconsin

“Overweight clients must be made to feel comfortable. First, I make sure they realize in order to lose weight they must combine diet and cardiovascular exercise with Pilates. Pilates is not a weight loss program. I want to make sure they are not misled or disappointed. I work with them on equipment that does not require getting up and down into low positions: Cadillac, chair, standing exercises, large ball (if they aren’t too obese). For some, getting up and down from the reformer or floor would be embarrassing and make them feel uncomfortable. I also offer a lot of positive feedback.”

Sandra Rapke, Beverly Hills, California

“I find that a lot of the obese clients I work with are ex-athletes, and still see themselves as such, even though they are fully aware they no longer live the life of an athletic person. Finding a way to tap into the drive of that buried athlete is the key to getting results in the obese person and rediscovering success in their Pilates work.

“All obese Pilates clients need to learn to stop and redirect their personal experiences, and it is the Pilates instructor’s job to open doors so they can accomplish this goal. It is important to assess the obese client’s personality and always respect the journey that individual has taken to get to the time and place where they presently find themselves. The present is the key to the past, and the future is wide open.”

– Patricia Broome, Portland, Oregon