When Joseph Pilates established his ‘Contrology’ practice in the early 20th century, he started a movement that took the western world by storm. 

For older adults, Pilates can be a fantastic way to keep fit, alleviate muscle aches, and maintain good overall health.

On this page, we’ll be discussing Pilates for over 50s and 60s. We’ll cover what Pilates is, what you’ll need to get started, and how to find options for classes near you.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is considered a mind-body exercise; it requires both mental concentration and physical activity. Participants adopt a series of postures and movements, and focus their attention on the positions of their bodies.

The great thing about this kind of exercise is that it’s very easy to moderate intensity based on experience level. Beginners and pros alike can benefit from similar exercises with slightly adjusted form. 

Pilates Vs Yoga – The Difference 

There are quite a few similarities to be found at first glance between Pilates and Yoga. This is especially true of the postures you adopt when practising either discipline. The ‘swan pose’ in Pilates is practically identical in form to yoga’s Bhujangasana pose, for example.  

The main difference with Pilates VS yoga is the ‘mind’ portion of this mind-body practice. Where yoga often focuses on explicitly spiritual concepts, Pilates instead places an emphasis on concentration and relaxation. It's an approach to exercise that treats the body and mind as interrelated, not a spiritual practice.

The Types of Pilates 

For over 50s and 60s, there are plenty of options to choose from when starting Pilates. 


Seated Pilates can be a great place to start for the less mobile or for those who enjoy a more relaxed approach to exercise. A chair is often used for a variety of positions that exercise the key muscle groups of the body. 

For older participants in particular, seated Pilates can be a wonderful option. Exercises vary in length and can be gradually increased in intensity. 


Standing Pilates can be great for balance and for a full-body workout. With regular training, it can strengthen both the mind and body remarkably well. Many people over 50 and 60 enjoy standing Pilates regularly; its accessible style means it can be enjoyed by people of all experience and ability levels.

Mirthy offers both seated and standing Pilates classes online with an expert instructor, providing everything you need to get going.

Online Vs In-Person 

One thing to mention here is that you don’t have to find an in-person class to benefit from this exercise. While many people still enjoy the social and motivational aspects of joining a local class, the internet is another great option for anyone wanting to take part remotely. 

It’s also possible to do Pilates alone by following a video at home. The NHS even has a 45-minute video on their site that’s designed for beginners. 

Is 50 Too Old to Start Pilates? 

Absolutely not! You’re never too old to start something new. What’s more, the gentle, progressive nature of the technique means that it can be easily adapted to suit practically any experience level. 

You could always start small with some low-intensity seated Pilates and then gradually build up your efforts over time. Your age needn’t be a barrier to good health. 

The Benefits of Pilates

So what has helped Pilates reach such high levels of notoriety? In this section, we’ll explore some of the key benefits to regularly practising Pilates. These apply at any age level, but many are particularly noticeable for the over 50s and 60s.

1. Improved Flexibility 

The stretches, movements, and postures of Pilates can work wonders for the body’s flexibility. When the length and intensity of certain exercises are increased over time, this flexibility benefit is only compounded. 

Not only do the increased blood flow and endorphins that this releases feel great, but it can also have myriad other benefits. Flexibility can be considered as a cornerstone trait; it helps improve many other aspects of overall health. 

2. Alleviates Back Pain 

There is a body of evidence suggesting that for those with chronic back pain, Pilates can be a powerful alleviating tool. The strength, flexibility, and overall mobility that comes from regular sessions are hard to overstate. 

Even if you suffer from milder aches and pains, Pilates may be able to help. Increasing blood flow around the body and building up strength where it matters can make a huge difference. 

Our advice is to start small and increase the intensity of your exercise gradually. This way, you’ll get the most benefit while minimising your risk of injury or burnout. 

3. Heart Health 

The aerobic and strength-building properties of regular Pilates practice can be fantastic for overall heart health. As we age, our risk of heart attacks and disease can increase dramatically. Mitigating these risks should be a top priority. 

For many, Pilates offers an easy, fun way to keep fit and stay on top of their heart health. 

4. Better Energy and Fitness 

The mind-body focus of Pilates means that many people experience improved energy and focus throughout the day. In Pilates, you’re not just mindlessly moving through a series of exercises; instead, you focus your attention very specifically on the exercise at hand. 

The result is a mind that feels sharper, more alert, and healthier overall. Regular exercise can have a phenomenally positive impact on mental and cognitive health. As cognitive and emotional issues can become more acute as we age, these brain-boosting benefits become even more important.

Getting Started – What You’ll Need 

One thing that makes Pilates so great is that the ‘barrier to entry’ is remarkably low. You don’t really need any specialist equipment to do basic exercise at home. While in-person studios sometimes use ‘reformer’ machines, these aren’t strictly necessary and can even be emulated with some basic floor pads if you’d like. 

For a basic ‘home studio’ setup, you will need:

For more intense or intermediate Pilates, you may need:

Over time, you’ll soon get to grips with the exercises and routines that work best for you.

Exercising solo can be a great way to keep fit, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing things safely. If you’re doing Pilates solo using online videos, we strongly recommend finding sources you can trust.

That's why Mirthy offers a series of live online classes with a qualified instructor. Additionally, the NHS offers a beginners video that can be a great place to learn more.

Find Pilates Options Near You 

When finding Pilates options near you, you’ll need to decide whether you’re interested in:

We recommend looking for beginner’s options if you’ve never done Pilates before. More intermediate and ‘reformer’ style classes can be great once you’ve built up some core strength. 

Your local gym or leisure centre may offer classes specifically tailored for the over 50s and 60s.

Final Thoughts

Pilates can be a fantastic way to keep fit and active for anyone. For the over 50s and 60s, the accessible and flexible nature of the workouts means that anyone can take part. Our advice is to start small and build up the intensity gradually. 

You’ll be an expert before you know it!