classicalpilates

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