Certified Pilates Instructor Rachel’s Fit Pilates Asks Is Wall Pilates A Waste Of Time? Here’s What She Said

Woman in a hallway lies on her back with her feet against the wall
(Image credit: PatKe / Shutterstock)

Wall Pilates is one of the biggest trends of 2024—it’s everywhere. It takes traditional mat Pilates exercises and uses a wall for extra stability or increased resistance, depending on the exercise.

Wall Pilates videos abound on TikTok and fitness influencers have been making all kinds of claims that wall Pilates can help you get lean fast and “snatch your waist”. It’s also been a divisive topic, with many Pilates instructors criticizing the trend, saying it’s not real Pilates and isn’t an effective way to exercise.

Rachel, of popular YouTube channel Rachel’s Fit Pilates, is a STOTT-certified Pilates instructor (STOTT is one of the most well-established branches of Pilates) and occupational therapist with an exercise science degree. She released a free 28-day Wall Pilates Challenge in summer 2023 that went viral—it has been viewed 2.3 million times. In her recent video, she addressed the hotly debated issues about wall Pilates.

Is wall Pilates real Pilates?

“The simple answer is no,” says Rachel in the video. “It’s not something we [Pilates instructors] get a ton of training on.” While formal Pilates training is accompanied by reference books full of exercises for the mat and reformer, wall Pilates doesn’t have its own book. “But just because these exercises are not in our manuals, does that mean that they are not effective exercises?” asks Rachel. “Does that mean that an instructor could not apply their knowledge and put it onto the wall?”

Where some Pilates instructors doubled down and stuck to their classical Pilates training, others saw it as a creative challenge and got involved in the trend, hoping to offer something useful for those looking to try this new workout style—a better alternative to the less useful videos making outlandish claims.

Is wall Pilates effective?

The most important question—can wall Pilates strengthen your body effectively? “Wall Pilates makes some exercises easier and some more difficult,” says Rachel. She explains that during abs work, having your feet on the wall reduces your range of movement, which makes the exercises easier. But pushing against the wall helps you get a deeper contraction of your rectus abdominis muscles, making the move more effective. 

In glute work, using the wall makes things more challenging. “It reminds me of an elevated glute bridge where your feet are on a bench,” says Rachel. “It’s more difficult because you have further to go. There’s also more time under tension versus [glute bridges] with your feet on the ground.”

“It’s important that if you do a wall Pilates workout you do it with an instructor who understands body mechanics, and what positions challenge a muscle and what positions make it easier,” says Rachel.

But can wall Pilates ever be as effective as traditional Pilates? “It comes down to the program design itself. Does the instructor have a good understanding of exercise science principles?” asks Rachel. She explains that it will depend on how you progress, and how you challenge yourself within the program but it’s also about whether you enjoy it because if you don’t, you won’t come back for more.

“It’s a great starting point for beginners, and I teach how to progress from that,” says Rachel, who adds hand and ankle weights to her sessions. “If led by someone with the right intentions, with transparency, and not giving false claims about what you will look like after 28 days, it can be really helpful.”

Who is wall Pilates good for?

Rachel was surprised that her wall Pilates challenge videos were useful to a whole range of people, including people with injuries—often ankle, knee, or hip problems—those with mobility issues and older people aiming to build more flexibility and strength. 

It can also be stimulating for your mind to try new ways to move and different types of exercises rather than doing the same ones repeatedly. “It’s a fun, interesting way to move your body,” says Rachel.

So while wall Pilates is not, strictly speaking, Pilates in the classical tradition, and it’s not going to offer a miracle shortcut to your fitness or weight loss goals, it can be useful for the right person, when following a program that challenges them and helps them progress. If you enjoy it, go right ahead and continue with wall Pilates.

Want to give wall Pilates a go? Try this 20-minute full-body wall Pilates workout from Rachel’s Fit Pilates.

Camilla Artault
Content editor

Camilla Artault is a writer and keen runner. She has covered women’s running gear – testing leggings, jackets, running bras, tops and shorts – for Coach since 2018, as well as interviewing experts and writing about a range of health and lifestyle topics.