Are All Pilates Classes Equal?

different types of pilates classes Sep 22, 2019

Recently one of my clients commented, "there is Pilates and then there is PILATES!!"  What did she mean by this statement?  She was comparing her own experience of twice-weekly studio Pilates sessions to that of a friend who attends a large weekly mat class at her local gym.  Needless to say, their experiences of Pilates were vastly different and my client was confused about her friend's description of Pilates as it was so different from her own.  In short, not all Pilates classes are equal and there are a variety of options available in the marketplace. In this post, I will explain what is on offer and who it is suitable for. 

Small Group Studio Pilates Sessions  

The Pilates studio is a fully equipped space with machines and equipment that use spring-loaded resistance such as the Reformer, Wunda Chair and Trapeze Table (Cadillac).  There are also a variety of arcs and barrels and small equipment such as rollers and balls.  Held in small groups of 3, 4 or 5 clients, the sessions and are usually approx 1 hour in duration.  Each client requires an Initial Assessment which is a private session where the Instructor looks at the past medical history and then any issues they are currently dealing with such as back pain for example.  It usually also includes a postural and movement patterns assessment, and instructions on how to connect the abdominal muscles. The client then decides what their goals are for Pilates and the Instructor then prepares a specific program based on the clients individual needs.  The client usually has a minimum of 1 more private session, before they are able to participate in a Small Group Studio Pilates session.  Each client is following their own program in the session with constant instructor supervision, but it's important that new clients have enough Pilates knowledge to fit in with the flow of the studio.  This is why the previous Initial Assessment and private sessions are essential for the Instructor to become familiar with the client's needs & goals, the client to become familiar with their program and to prevent existing clients from being held up by a newcomer.

Who Are These Sessions Most Suitable For?

Being able to cater to individual needs means they are suitable for the majority of the population, including rehabilitation,  pre and post-natal, general fitness and elite athletes and dancers.

Who Are These Sessions Not Suitable For?

Clients who have mobility issues and can't move around the studio unaided or clients who require extra attention due to the restrictive nature of their injuries, or pain levels.

Private or 1:1 Studio Sessions

As the name implies the client receives undivided attention for the session and obviously this has numerous benefits.  The sessions are conducted in the Pilates studio with all the equipment as described above and also begin with an Assessment.  These sessions allow for closer correction of technique which can lead to faster progression and more opportunity to adapt and change the client's exercises on a session by session basis.

Who Are These Sessions Most Suitable For?

The majority of the population, but specifically those who need extra care and attention, have mobility issues or are dealing with serious injuries or high pain levels.  On the other end of the scale, they are extremely beneficial for advanced Pilates clients and elite athletes and dancers who require a constant challenge.

Who Are These Sessions Unsuitable For?

Clients who find 1:1 attention confronting and prefer to be part of a group.

Mat Classes & Reformer Classes
These classes take place on mats on the floor or on Reformer beds and sometimes includes the use of props such as bands, balls or magic circles.  The class size can vary from a few clients in a small studio to 30 + clients in a gym.  The structure is a class, so everyone is doing the same exercises at the same time.  Some teachers offer modifications for clients who need an easier/harder option and some classes are graded in levels from beginners to advanced.  The aim is to provide a general workout with Pilates principles. 

Who Are These Classes Most Suitable For? 

Clients who are physically fit and don't have any injuries or current issues and have some previous Pilates experience.

Who Are These Sessions Unsuitable For?

Clients who have injuries and require rehabilitation and therefore need the individual attention provided in either Private or Small Group Studio Sessions.

Online Pilates Studios

A recent development in the way clients can access Pilates tuition is now with Online Studios and Membership Sites such as my site JS Mind Body Pilates.  These sites have many benefits as they are accessible and affordable and can be used on their own or to supplement other Pilates classes you may be attending.  They cater to many different types of populations including rehabilitation, pre & post-natal Pilates and it's just a matter of finding one that suits your particular needs.  Take the free 10 Day Trial now and you can decide at no cost to you if Online Pilates suits your needs. Wishing you all the best for your Pilates journey!





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