The fit and fabulous instructors at Flex, one of Hong Kong's most coveted high-end pilates studios, help shed some light on some of the most common myths surrounding the popular workout

Pilates is exclusively for women

Chelsea Rusnak: Pilates was invented by a man for men during World War One. Nowadays, it’s for everyone and caters to the needs of beginners, professional athletes, rehabilitation patients and experts alike—it doesn’t discriminate!

Heather Thomas Shalabi: Actually, it’s more like men’s gymnastics than anything else. Think about it—from men’s floor routines doing circles, scales and press handstands to bars and vaults. For the still rings, gymnasts need to demonstrate balance, strength, power and dynamic motion while preventing themselves from swinging… pure Contrology!

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Women are doing pilates training with a ball
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Pilates is basically like yoga

Nicole Serje: Although there is also an element of stretching to Pilates, it’s really about working the body as a whole. The system’s goal is to move the body in the best, most efficient and most supported way, whether it’s for activities of daily living, sports conditioning, recovery from injury or general fitness. And the powerhouse is the key component to initiating, strengthening and sustaining all of this… not, say, a higher consciousness.

Dawn Lawrence: Pilates is using the body in symmetry, similar to yoga’s alignment practice, but employing unique secular methods that aim for body and mind coordination. This ideally also uplifts the spirit, because you have become in control of your own health and well-being.

Pilates is all stretching and relaxation exercises

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Two women exercising on a Pilates machine.
Above Photo: Getty Images

Juan Carlos Raches: All Pilates equipment teaches full-body coordination and control. The entire system is focused on control quality, challenging the body in every single repetition. Just because the movements are not huge and exaggerated, doesn’t mean you’re only stretching and relaxing. It’s those micro-movements that are the hardest! They get you lean muscles by combining tough exercises with essential stretches, preventing the “Muscle Beach” bulky look.

Kgosi Moncho: People think Pilates is all just lying down and focusing on your breath, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a carefully chosen series of exercises not only to help keep you fit, but to also address imbalances in your body.

Pilates caters to the elderly

Cheng-Fang Wu: Because Pilates is a low-impact exercise, some people consider it a way to help return to the health of their youth. But actually, you’re never too young to start doing Pilates… in fact, Joseph Pilates based many Pilates exercises on the movements of babies and children.

Pilates is easy

Anna Serafinas Luk: If it’s easy, it’s not Pilates. The difficulty level has a lot to do with your own practice—but if you don’t push yourself, you lose the discipline’s powerful benefits.

Heather Thomas Shalabi is the co-founder and Director of Flex Studio Hong Kong, with locations in Central and One Island South.

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