The popularity of mainstream Pilates has seen it evolve from gyms to more specialised Pilates studios. This evolution is a step in the right direction, but I sometimes wonder if some studios haven’t simply applied a gym class mentality to the Pilates method.
Pilates demonstration of true Strength, Coordination and Control stems from technique in its strength work and precision. It is more than just being on a reformer, moving the body and cracking a sweat. Many Pilates studios have sacrificed the integrity of the Pilates method to offer group classes — substituting importance of technique for commercial enterprise. This diminishes the understanding and hence the essence and real benefits of Pilates.
The most obvious benefit of having a private Pilates class starts from the immediate fact you have the instructor’s undivided attention. Where choices, instructions, explanations of exercises are all tailored for one specific Body and Mind. The flow on effects (in order) and benefits are;
- Better technique in the Pilates method,
- Better execution of exercises
- Better proprioception (body awareness)
- Faster progression and results of strength or recovery from injury
- More care and attention
Pilates is very much about technique and learning to work from the right muscles. This varies for each individual as each body has different strengths and weaknesses. With group Pilates classes, exercises are modified to fit all the bodies for mass application — cues are streamlined and instructions are ‘off the shelf’. The instructor becomes a surveyor of the class opposed to being a teacher of Pilates.
I understand the financial reasoning for choosing group sessions versus Private Pilates classes. But it is important to invest in quality instruction and learn the correct technique to get the full benefits of Pilates for the mind and body, otherwise your understanding thus practice will be superficial and your progression slow.
As a Pilates teacher, I witness the dilution of the Pilates method through group classes when I see Pilates’s bodies looking and working out more like gym bodies — working all from their arms and legs, with no connection to their powerhouse. This makes me feel remorseful on two levels — The first is the degradation of such a wonderful complete strength training methodology. And secondly to most people, this is what they believe to be Pilates.