When it comes to working out, I’ve traditionally operated by the ole “no pain, no gain” mantra (blame my childhood dreams of being an athlete that just won’t quit), and I tend to shy away from anything that doesn’t deliver that hurts-so-good payoff like a distance run or a HIIT class. The only problem? That approach has often come with a good dose of literal pain—like, multiple knee surgeries.
A recent case of extra-throbby joints pushed me to take inventory of my perspective on fitness. Do I really have to dial every workout up to 1,000? How much of my regimen is driven by what I think fitness is supposed to look like, vs. what actually works for me and my body? Trying to answer these questions led me to try Lindywell, the Pilates app that takes a balanced, holistic approach to health.
Pilates instructor Robin Long founded the platform—which includes hundreds of classes, recipes, and a thriving online community—in an effort to reframe the shame she’d experienced in fitness. “At Lindywell, we believe that working out shouldn’t be a guilt-induced chore. It’s so common to get caught in the all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to working out,” Long says. “Our grace over guilt approach is the antidote to that.”
Feeling very seen, I was curious to know what method Long would recommend instead. Her solution? Learn how to listen to your body. “Most people are disconnected from their body without even realizing it,” Long says. “When we ignore what our bodies are telling us, we find ourselves in tough places—burnout, illness, disease, or injury.”
I got it, loud and clear—so I decided to commit to Lindywell’s trial, which is free for new members. And I’ll admit that, after just a few weeks, I already felt noticeably stronger and more at ease, both physically and emotionally. Here’s what sold me on making it a habit for the long haul.
1. It’s a minimal—but momentous—commitment
It was clear from the moment I set up my account that Lindywell is all about removing barriers, making Pilates easily accessible, and welcoming everyone. As a newbie, this made my first foray a lot less intimidating.
Here’s how it works: Upon entering the website or the user-friendly Pilates app, a daily workout is already cued up—no searching or decision-making necessary. (But if you want options, the “workouts” tab is chock-full of videos categorized by length, target muscles, and skill level—and offers access to a monthly workout calendar.) A diverse slate of certified instructors guide the movement both visually and verbally, and if you miss something? There’s always pause or rewind.
The best part? The workouts call for just a mat or towel—no serious equipment needed—and range from 15 to 35 minutes, so finding time in my schedule is no-sweat. And, since Lindywell is helping me retrain my brain to focus on a sustainable fitness routine instead of my typical all-or-nothing method, starting with just 15 minutes a day helped me establish the habit and work my way up from there.
Speaking of time-efficient, Long recommends Lindywell’s new all-standing workouts for anyone on the go. “I’ve been known to sneak these in at the airport during layovers or in the bathroom while I’m watching my kids in the bath,” Long says. Yes, I did work out in my kitchen while I was waiting for my coffee to brew.
2. It’s all about a mindset shift
Reminder: I was totally skeptical of a 20-minute workout that wouldn’t leave me drenched in sweat. But after feeling the effects of Lindywell’s simple, low-impact, muscle-toning exercises, my mindset shifted… and my stress levels eased in a major way.
There’s science behind that, too, according to Long. “Pilates pairs low-impact movement with intentional breathing, so within just a few minutes we can actually reset the nervous system to get out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and back into a place of rest and relaxation,” she says. “It’s an efficient and effective tool for both physical and mental health benefits.”
With a few classes under my belt, I began adjusting away from pounding the pavement and pouring sweat and, in its place, noticed a newfound sense of strength and ease. Oh, and my IT bands? They’ve never been happier.
3. It’s beyond just workouts
Lindywell’s signature perspective shift applies to more than only Pilates—it covers food, too. Lindywell offers hundreds of recipes designed to encourage nourishment, not restriction, and the platform is designed to help educate you on your food choices so your better-for-you habits are more likely to stick. (Are you sensing the theme?)
“Our registered dietitian focuses on recipes to reduce inflammation and revitalize energy,” Long says. “We focus on ways to make our food support our lifestyle.” From almond berry muffins to curried cauliflower, Lindywell’s kitchen inspo is organized by dietary preferences, occasion, and community favorites.
As for me? I’ll be whipping up a batch of Lindywell’s chocolate chip cookie (a go-to in Long’s family for a protein-packed afternoon snack). And while I clean up the kitchen? I might squeeze in a 15-Minute Mind Body Reset class, just because.