Updated: Jun 26, 2022
Pilates is a great exercise program that is not exclusive to adult women--it offers plenty of benefits for all ages. What is so wonderful about the entire Pilates system, including the matwork and the apparatus, is how the program can be tailored for different age groups and abilities. There's really no ceiling for Pilates, you can continue to practice for as long as you're able(I once had a client who was 95 years old!). However, it is important to note that there is a minimum age for taking Pilates classes.
Minimum Age For Pilates
As a Pilates Instructor and a mother of two, it is difficult for me to recommend an exact age as to when your child will be ready for Pilates. Granted, at this young age Pilates looks somewhat similar to creative movement. But, to really start grasping the concepts we teach in the classical Pilates mat work, I would say by age 6 most kids are able and ready to start focusing on moving their bodies in a mindful way. Also, at age 6 they are starting school and are ready to take on more challenging tasks. The CDC recommends, at age 6, implementing 1 hour of exercise per day in addition to fostering the child's confidence. What better way than Pilates?
Things To Consider Before Teaching Pilates To Kids
Are they growing at a normal pace?
Children who are growing at a slower than normal pace or who are less developed than most may want to wait until their bodies mature to begin a Pilates practice. There can be many reasons for this, either born prematurely or children with specific diseases/conditions. It is vitally important that their spines have developed enough before they begin a Pilates regimen, which will include weight bearing exercises.
Are they interested in moving their bodies in a creative way?
As most parents are aware, things usually go better when the child wants to do an activity rather than a parent imposed one. That being said, I do believe that demonstration goes a long way so, the more you can do these exercises with them, the better. In fact, our on-demand video series titled, "Pilates for Kids" can be a great way for adults and kids alike to get down on the mat and have some fun together!
Can they focus for 5-10 minutes at a time?
In our series of videos for kids, each video is at least 5 minutes long. If your child is having trouble with focusing for this period of time, I would suggest the same thing I did above. Get down on the mat and do the exercises and see if it encourages them to join. If they don't, it's ok - just keep moving and they will take note of what you are doing. Eventually they will be curious and want to try it too.
Do they know they know their right from their left?
The classical mat work often works with one side of the body and then the other. A good indication for if your child is ready for a Pilates regimen is whether they can decipher their right from their left. To be honest, we all forget our right from our left at some point during a mat class, so go easy on them!
Are they playing sports?
If your child is playing sports already, it's pretty likely they will be ready for Pilates. In fact, Pilates will be a great warm up for them before they begin their sport. It can also act as excellent cross training to keep them balanced, strong and flexible.
Working with children always brings challenges which is why it's best left to the pros. Here's some links to a few great resources you can use to help your child along the way! And as always, have fun!
Pilates for Kids Videos
Pilates for Kids Books