If you don’t feel sore after Pilates class that is okay. It is not a sign that you didn’t work hard or didn’t have an effective workout. I will often feel like I can’t do one more double leg stretch and my abs will burn during a Pilates class. Then I wake up the next morning and don’t feel sore. At the same time, every now and then I’ll take a class that feels surprisingly easy and be sore the next day.
As your body gets used to an exercise soreness will be caused by doing something different or in a different order, but soreness is not an indicator of a well-worked muscle. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning this February found that muscle soreness can be reduced by running for 20-minutes before weight training and doing aerobic exercises between sets and reps. This article was geared specifically toward weight lifting, but it should have a similar effect on any exercise that challenges or fatigues the muscles.
What really indicates whether you’ve had a good workout? Here are some things to look for:
- Am I improving week to week/month to month?
- Can I complete an exercise I wasn’t able to before?
- Am I losing weight (not something that Pilates is known for, not being cardiovascular)
- Am I toning?
- Do I have more control over my muscles/body?
- Do I feel stronger?
- If I measure my arms/legs/waist would their size have changed?
- Did I feel challenged while performing the exercises?
If you can say yes to most of these points, you’re body is probably gaining from your workout even if you don’t feel sore. We need to retrain our brains not to believe soreness equals a productive workout. At the same time be do need to push ourselves. Not challenging ourselves during class and then not feeling sore would not be a sign of a good workout.