We live in an extremely result-oriented culture where people want everything instantaneously. Since we have precious little free time, one of the first questions someone new to working out will ask is, “When will I see the results from my hard workouts?” Fitness guru Joseph Pilates had an answer that I tend to agree with.

In 10 sessions you will feel a difference, in 20 you will see a difference, and in 30 you will have a whole new body.

Note that he separates feeling, seeing and living the results. This is important! Usually someone new to exercise, or to a specific modality like Pilates or Yoga, will feel different first – better self-esteem, less back pain, better breathing, maybe some muscle soreness, maybe better posture. Then you start to see the difference in muscle tone, definition, how your clothes fit, and again posture. Finally, you and everyone around you will start to notice the changes in how you look, feel, and move even when not exercising.

That said, there are a few factors that can affect this outcome.

How fit are you to start with?

If you haven’t done any exercise at all and start a new fitness program, you will see more dramatic results quickly as you stretch and strengthen areas that haven’t been exercised before. You will see results quickly even by training only once or twice a week.

If you are already extremely fit and start a new exercise modality, such as Pilates for cross training or simply for something new, it may take a little bit longer to see the difference from Pilates. I, along with Joe, still maintain that you will feel a difference within 10 sessions.

How often are you working out?

You can do some exercises, like Pilates, every day, but most people like to take a day or two off in between workouts. And if you are doing HIIT or Crossfit, you definitely need the rest and recovery. Even if you follow Joseph Pilates’ guidelines, the more often you exercise, the quicker you will see results. At once a week, those 10 sessions will take 10 weeks. Whereas at 3 times a week you will see results in 3 weeks.

How intense are your exercises?

Intensity is the deciding factor in how quickly you will see results from any exercise program, including Pilates. If you focus and work as hard as possible during every exercise, breathing and maintaining great form as you move as quickly as you can with control, you will see results more quickly. If you tend to move slowly, take lots of breaks, and shy away from hard intense physical work, it will take a bit longer to see results from your workouts.

How is your nutrition?

Many trainers will tell you that you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. I am not an advocate of crazy dieting with lots of cutbacks. That never ends well. You may even find that once you start regular exercise it is easier to eat well because you like yourself more.

But do be aware that exercising will often tend to make you hungrier as you are using more calories, so it is important that you have good lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fat options around. Or else, the chips and cookies will lure you in.

How to start an effective exercise program:
  • If you can, I recommend starting out with an NCCA accredited certified Personal Trainer or Pilates teacher, so someone can explain the most effective exercises for your goals, teach you the exercises, and correct your form. Group training and classes can be options for lower cost introductions. If that is not possible, there are many great books, audios, and videos on the market.
  • Set aside 30-60 minutes at least 2-3 times a week where you can focus on exercise. I recommend that one of those days be Pilates.
  • Try to do the workouts to the best of your ability focusing as much as possible on proper form and breathing.
  • Stick with it! Exercise can be fun, but even if you don’t love it, the benefits outweigh any hassle.So what are you waiting for?  Start your exercise routine now to witness the dramatic changes in your body and lifestyle!
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