Pilates classes seem to be everywhere now! Group classes, Personal Trainers using it for core strength, mat classes at the local public hall, equipment Pilates and Clinical Pilates. It can all be a bit overwhelming so today I’m going to explain a little bit about the difference between all these types of Pilates and next week as a follow on I will teach you how to tell if you’re instructor is helping or hurting!

Help there’s so many different types of Pilates!

The first step in your Pilates journey is finding the right class to try. First consider where you are on the rehab – fitness scale. If reformeryou’re more towards the rehab end of the scale you’ll be looking at either Clinical Pilates or equipment Pilates.

The equipment Pilates is usually referred to as Studio Pilates and they usually have several different pieces of Pilates equipment such as the Cadilac, Reformer and Stability Chair. If you have general aches and pains in the body or a pre-existing condition that has previously been diagnosed then this is the class for you. They will be able to work around most pre-existing conditions as Studio Pilates caters to individual needs. There should only be 3-4 people in a class and you should all follow your own program specific to your needs. There will usually be a initial consult where the instructor will evaluate you 1-on-1 and from there you will go in to a class once they are confident with your basic abilities. This method will usually cost around $35-$45 per class due to the small class sizes.

Clinical Pilates can progress to Studio Pilates and many Clinical Pilates Instructors teach Studio Pilates (just to make things tricky!). However the key difference is the degree of assessment knowledge. A Clinical Pilates instructor will be able to assess any new or undiagnosed pain conditions you may have. They usually have back grounds in other modalities as well such as Physiotherapy, Myotherapy or Exercise Physiology but that’s not always the case. When looking for a Clinical Pilates instructor ask them if their progression pathways involves more 1-on-1, small group classes or home exercises. For your wallets sake you want the small group classes or home exercises moving forward. Also ask them if they are confident with your area of concern, if they aren’t they usually have a good referral network to get you onto the right person. A Clinical Pilates session is usually a bit more expensive than Studio Pilates in the beginning but the time you will save in getting the right exercises from the start will be very beneficial in the long run.

The buzz word of the moment in the exercise world seems to be Reformer Pilates! Many people are mistaking reformer Pilates for studio Pilates, do not be mistaken, they are very different! Reformer Pilates classes such as KX Pilates or the ones they have at the local gym tend to have larger class sizes and are more of a fitness based class. Many of the instructors have done a fitness based Pilates course and not a rehab course so you need a good degree of underlying body health and fitness to do these classes or you can easily use the wrong muscles and do more harm than good. If you are fit and healthy these classes are great fun but make sure you read next weeks blog to find out how to choose a good instructor! If you have any kind of pain and still want to give this type of Pilates a go, make sure you inform your instructor before the class so they can give you modifications, if they can’t give you modifications, do not do their class, it may make you worse! A reformer class if it’s not already part of your gym membership will cost approximately $25 per class.

Mat Pilates is so over run with poor instructors, you really have to hunt for a good one. I have been to classes that make me shudder! Similar to reformer Pilates, you need to have a good base of health and fitness to participate in a mat Pilates class unless you instructor knows how to give modifications for your specific pain condition. Again if it’s not already part of your gym membership mat Pilates can cost anywhere between $10 – $20 per class.

So to clarify in you are further towards the rehab end of the spectrum you should search for Clinical Pilates or Studio Pilates; if you are more towards the fitness end of the scale you may choose to go to a reformer or mat Pilates class however there are still good and bad instructors, tune in next week to find out how to spot a good instructor!


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