Okay, you certainly don’t have to do Pilates naked. In my opinion the exercises wouldn’t make anyone look good in the buff–consider the seal where you reach in between your legs and roll back and forth pausing with your butt in the air and clap your feet together like an animal. It just isn’t the prettiest of exercises.

That being said, Joseph Pilates did advocate working out in as little clothing as possible. Shorts would be ideal for men and when you see photos of him working with women they are often only in a leotard that doesn’t cover the legs. Pilates believed the body (specifically the pores) needed to breathe. “Remember,” he wrote, “that your body also “breathes” through the pores of your skin as well as through your mouth, nose, and lungs.”

So while I would recommend working out in an outfit that makes you feel comfortable, it is key to keep in mind that you don’t want your clothes to get in the way of you movements and that you do want to be able to sweat. That being said, if you are so uncomfortable in what you are wearing, or in the case of Pilates what you are not wearing, you might not focus on doing the exercise properly. Better to come to class and think about the exercises than ponder your wardrobe choices.

Joseph Pilates certainly had wisdom ahead of his time. It’s important for us to know his beliefs and then allow them to evolve so that we can incorporate them into our daily routine.
(Photograph Above: Of Joseph Pilates doing The Seal from Pilates’ Return to Life Through Contrology by Joseph Pilates and WIlliam John Miller.)