A recent Australian study found that the larger a woman’s breasts, the less likely she was to participate in physical activity. And it didn’t just affect women who ran and did other high-impact workouts; women with large breasts also did low-impact exercise like walking and swimming less. And though the researchers didn’t ask about Pilates, a large chest can be an impediment in the studio, too. “If you’re lying on your back and you do a movement like Bridge, breast tissue will fall into your face,” explains Madeline Black, founder of Madeline Black Methods and creator of the Work with Abundant Bodies workshop on Pilates Anytime.
But because of the toll it takes on their necks, shoulders and backs, women with large chests need Pilates—badly. “I had a client who once said, I want to give you one of my bras,” recalls Black. “And I want you to put 40 pounds in it and wear it around for a day and you’ll know how I feel. I didn’t need to do it—I knew that would hurt my back!
“You have that weight in front, and you have to counter it with your back, as your back muscles are constantly working,” she continues. “They get fatigued, and when they get fatigued, they start to hurt.”
Matwork is not the best choice for these women, Black says, though a yoga bolster can be helpful. The best apparatus are the Wunda Chair and the Barrels, she says, because you’re mor