WHY ARE PRIVATE PILATES LESSONS SO BENEFICIAL? 

Dev Winsor getting run way fit with 1:1 private Pilates sessions.

Dev Winsor getting run way fit with 1:1 private Pilates sessions.

In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 you’ll see the difference, and in 30 you’ll have a new body
— Joseph Pilates

Pilates is a method of exercise focused primarily on control & precision. Getting the most from each exercise requires correct alignment & technique. Even being slightly off centre, or working through one side of the body more than the other, makes a massive difference to the feel & benefit of the exercise. Clients might say: Where should I be feeling this? Not knowing where to feel the challenge in Pilates is often the result of not being in the ideal position or alignment, or of not fully understanding the exercise or the basic fundamental principles of Pilates such as properly activating the core/power house. Generally speaking, when the body is functioning optimally in a balanced, aligned way, it becomes much clearer where you should be feeling the exercises & even more so as the body becomes stronger. This is why having regular 1:1 or 2:1 sessions under the watchful eye of certified, experienced instructor can make all the difference. During a private lesson, your instructor should always be completely focused on the alignment of your body, coaching, cuing &  adjusting your position, so that you are getting the most benefit out of each movement. I believe even highly experienced students or instructors still benefit from this personal approach. Having someone experienced look at your alignment & technique regularly helps to make sure you don’t pick up undesirable habits, sometimes being crooked starts to feel totally normal! 

Now don’t get me wrong, I think group classes are great as they are a fun, cost effective way to get the body moving & often provide a really good workout.  However, when an instructor is managing a varied group with lots of different abilities, there is less time available to explain each exercise to everyone, & it can very difficult to give individualised attention. This has the potential to become a problem long term if clients are doing Pilates for years without really improving or are not understanding the detailed techniques specific to their own body. A mixture of private lessons & group classes can be a great combination, allowing you to take the knowledge & information gained in your private sessions, with you into your group classes. I recommend doing at least 5 - 10 private Pilates lessons, either 1:1 or 2:1, before doing any kind of large group class if possible. This ensures you will be building on a solid foundation, & gives you a clearer understanding of the Pilates principles, along with an awareness of what your body needs in order to be aligned & balanced. This is especially important if you have injuries, are pregnant or post natal.

If you have been doing large group Pilates classes for a while, it can also be good to look at supplementing a class with a private Pilates session every 2 - 8 weeks. Often I find clients who do 1 - 3 private sessions a week, over 4+ group classes, can get more effective results due to the personalised attention & precise focus on technique. Sometimes quality over quantity is beneficial, especially if you are new to Pilates. Investing in private sessions is an investment worth making if you want to get more out of your workouts long term. When you really understand the goal of each exercise, & have the ability to work your body optimally, you will have the power to transform those ‘basic’ Pilates exercises into something a lot deeper, more challenging, & ultimately transformational for the mind & body!

PILATES EQUIPMENT

Often Pilates is just thought of as a workout using only the mat or reformer. However traditionally the Pilates method was created using a variety of different pieces of equipment.

In the Classical Pilates studio setting you will often use:

  • The cadillac
  • The reformer
  • The high chair / electric chair
  • The wunda chair
  • The spine corrector/small barrels
  • The pedo pull
  • The guillotine
  • The high mat
  • The tower
  • The ladder barrel
  • The magic circle
  • The small hand weights
  • The foot corrector
  • Jump boards

In Contemporary Pilates studios you will often use:

  • The reformer (very popular some studios only use use this piece of equipment)
  • The mat (very popular in gyms)
  • The cadillac
  • The wunda chair / exo chair
  • The spine corrector/ small barrels
  • The pedo pull
  • The foam roller
  • The thera bands
  • The magic circle
  • Hand weights large & small
  • Ankle weights
  • Stability balls/Pilates balls
  • Massage balls
  • Balance boards
  • Tower classes (not that common)
  • Jump boards
A Contemporary style Pilates Reformer from Balanced body Image from Universal Practice.

A Contemporary style Pilates Reformer from Balanced body Image from Universal Practice.

A Classical Reformer at Leaf Pilates in Korea (Notice the wooden handles & leather straps) 

A Classical Reformer at Leaf Pilates in Korea (Notice the wooden handles & leather straps) 

CONTEMPORARY & CLASSICAL PILATES

Contemporary Pilates also called Modern Pilates or Clinical Pilates, is strongly influenced by modern movement & physiotherapy rehabilitation techniques. There is a large focus on understanding anatomy & the scientific reasoning behind movement & exercise. Most of the original Pilates exercises are still used or modified to further assist the client. Often there are a lot of 'pre pilates', physiotherapy or fitness inspired exercises added into workouts.

There's no set order to follow in each workout, however classes & private sessions are sequenced so the body is challenged in all of the different movement planes such as supine (on the back), quadruped (all fours), prone (on the front), side lying (on the side) , seated (sitting upright) & generally always standing, to finish a class. The original Pilates principles are still followed such as centering, concentration, control, precision, breath & flow. 

The Pilates equipment is generally very modern & the spring tensions are much lighter. Contemporary Pilates often uses additional props such as foam rollers, thera bands & exercise balls to assist or challenge an exercise. The equipment used is usually the: reformer, mat, cadillac, wunda chair, ladder barrel, tower, spine corrector, magic circle & hand weights.  

Some of the leading internationally recognised schools of contemporary Pilates such as Polestar Pilates & BASI require Instructors to do comprehensive training of up to 600+ hours which includes observation, self mastery & teaching. Exams are usually both theory based & practical & are always examined by an experienced teacher trainer. Other contemporary training programs might be shorter & less intensive & don't always provide an exam.

Classical Pilates also referred to as Authentic Pilates, or Pure Pilates follows the Pilates system exactly the way it was taught by Joseph in the 1920s. It always follows a precise set of exercises in an order that must always be followed. This system has been passed down by the Pilates elders who trained with Joseph Pilates. Exercises do get modified slightly if a client is unable to perform them fully but the general flow & sequence must always be followed.

The classical equipment specifically designed for the full repertoire of Pilates exercises often has heavier springs & there are additional pieces of equipment such as: the guillotine, foot corrector, baby chair, high chair & pedo pull. Often the workout starts on the reformer, then the mat & is usually finished with appropriate extra exercises on some of the other pieces of equipment such as: the cadillac, wunda chair, high chair, ladder barrel, baby chair & the tower.

The Classical system usually follows a basic level, Intermediate level, advanced level & then super advanced sequence. There is a focus on the transitions between exercises particularly on the reformer & mat which creates extra challenge, control, & flow between each movement.

One of the most recognised Classical training programs is with Romana's Pilates. Romana Kryzanowska was a student of Joseph, she was chosen to continue his legacy. Apprentices are required to undergo intensive training for at least a year where they must complete over 60+ hours a month of apprentice hours. They are closely guided & mentored by experienced instructors & examined by a Level 1 master trainer. Exams are both written & practical. There are specific guideline requirements before being accepted on to this prestigious program. 

 

Image of Whitney Tingle on the Classical Gratz Pilates Cadillac in Le Petit Studio in NYC

Image of Whitney Tingle on the Classical Gratz Pilates Cadillac in Le Petit Studio in NYC

Image of Kirsten King using the contemporary Balanced Body reformer at Laportex Sydney

Image of Kirsten King using the contemporary Balanced Body reformer at Laportex Sydney

PILATES QUOTES

Some of my favourite quotes from Joseph Pilates:

 

"The mind when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power."
"In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 you'll see the difference, and in 30 you'll have a new body."
"Everyone is the architect of their own happiness."
"It's the mind itself which shapes the body."
"Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavour."
"Contrology is complete coordination of mind, body and spirit."
"Change happens through movement and movement heals".
"If your spine is inflexibly stiff at 30, you are old. If it is completely flexible at 60, you are young."
"Every moment of our life can be the beginning of great things."
"The Pilates method teaches you to be in control of your body not at it's mercy".
"Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase." Joseph Pilates

"Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase." Joseph Pilates

WHY PILATES?

Often I get asked what's so good about Pilates? What will it do for me? So I have decided to write a blog post explaining what I believe the amazing benefits are and the positive, powerful effect Pilates can have on the mind and body.

Pilates was originally named 'Contolology'  by Joseph Pilates the creator of the exercise method in the 1920's. He based his whole system around people gaining complete control over their mind and body. Pilates teaches people to be aware of their body and to move mindfully.

The six key principles of Pilates are

  1. Centering (connecting the mind to the body and finding the core/ power house)
  2. Concentration (focusing deeply on the body and movement)
  3. Control (mastering control of the body and movement)
  4. Precision (gaining excellent body awareness resulting in precise form/movement)
  5. Breath (using the breath as a tool to help with movement and better circulation)
  6. Flow (moving freely with beautiful control and precision)    

Pilates is amazing for men and woman and for all bodies. It used to be used primarily as a great tool for rehabilitation and for keeping dancers in great shape. Pilates is now becoming increasingly popular for all ages and fitness levels from the elderly to teenagers, pre and post natal women to elite athletes. Pilates is a full body workout. It targets all areas of the body and improves strength and flexibility in a balanced way. Pilates targets all of the muscles in the body including the small stabilizing muscles that are often left out in other exercise programs. Pilates has a huge focus on developing a strong powerhouse, (deep core muscles such as the gluts, inner thighs, abdominals, pelvic floor and spine). All of these muscles work together to create a strong foundation resulting in a healthy, balanced, happy body.

Here I have listed a few of the 100's benefits of doing Pilates on a regular basis:

  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Improved posture
  • Better mind / body awareness
  • Improved alignment
  • Slimmer more toned physique
  • Strong core (PH)
  • Improves strength after having a baby safely
  • Joint health and spine health
  • Create long lean muscles (no bulk)
  • Improved energy for daily tasks
  • Great exercise method whilst pregnant 
  • Better breathing patterns
  • Balanced full body workout
  • Increased circulation
  • Works on the deep stabilising muscles
  • It's loads of fun and a great challenge
  • There are lots of different pieces of equipment to use for variety
  • Better balance
  • Suitable for men and woman of all fitness levels
  • Improved mobility and stability  
  • Lengthens the body (you will grow a few inches)
  • Excellent for injury prevention and rehabilitation 
  • Improved confidence
  • Better sleep patterns
  • Improved co-ordination
  • Teaches discipline, patience, and focus    
  • Enhances overall wellbeing