If you’ve taken a barre, yoga, or Pilates class, you’ve probably encountered a super-hot instructor with lean limbs, long legs, and a tight AF midsection.

You might have also heard her claim that doing these types of workouts can sculpt your body into ballerina form – but can you really?Or are our bodies destined to have the same basic shape regardless of how many plies or downward dogs we do?

As it turns out, you can’t change your frame size, bone structure or the places you store body fat or muscle. All of these depend on your DNA, says exercise physiologist Michelle Olson. Plus, your diet also has major say in your physique, she says. That being said, certain workouts, especially those that involve lifting heavy weights, can obviously have an impact on your muscle definition.

It takes longer to see results with activities like barre or running, where you use less resistance because you’re mostly using your body weight or super-light hand weights, says Olson. “So you’re not going to develop muscles as fast as you would using heavier weights.”

That’s not to say that yoga, barre, and Pilates classes aren’t beneficial for building muscle, they totally are – just in a different way than traditional strength training. It’s also worth noting that if you’re a muscular or curvy, workouts like yoga, barre and running, will keep you looking leaner simply because you’re not putting muscle on quickly. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with training to get bigger muscles instead of smaller bodies. In fact, we highly recommend it!

But the amount of change you see is limited by genetics. “If you tend to carry more weight in your thighs, doing Pilates or running isn’t going to change that,” says Jacque Crockford, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise. Okay, so working towards the body of your Pilates instructor isn’t going to reverse your natural pear silhouette, but there’s so much more to sweating it out than just trying to re-shape your body. Plus, we think what your mama gave you is damn fine, girl.

Posted on: 29 Feb 2016 by Thamar Houliston
Rodale Inc.