If you're new to Pilates and researching the best Pilates classes for you, some congratulations are in order! This means you've decided to try out your first class and you're well on your way to all the incredible health benefits that Pilates can offer. 

In this article, we'll give you a more complete overview of Pilates and dive into how to choose the right class for you. Before we start, perhaps think about your wellbeing and fitness goals, and what you hope to get out of Pilates. This will help you decide on the right style of Pilates for you. 

Let's take a closer look at the different kinds of Pilates on offer...

choosing the right pilates class
Make Pilates a regular practice and you'll feel the flexibility practices right away! Photo Source: Pixabay

8 Great Benefits Of Pilates Training

All of these benefits are great on their own, but to truly feel long-lasting health effects, you need to commit to more than just one class. Take up Pilates as a regular practice for the maximum benefits for body and mind.

  1. The ultimate goal of Pilates is to unite the body and mind so both work together for whole-body wellness.
  2. Pilates tones, sculpts, strengthens and tightens the whole body.
  3. Through gaining lean muscle, Pilates encourages fat to melt away, making it a great fat-burning workout. If you commit to regular classes, you'll notice the results in a matter of weeks.
  4. The "powerhouse" is the core of your body, located between your pelvis, belly button and spine. All movements in Pilates are energized from this area and the focus on a stable core will sculpt your hips, strengthen your abs and shape your waist.
  5. In Pilates, correct posture is essential. After regular practice, you'll notice better posture and improved spinal alignment in your everyday life, as well as improved awareness of the body.
  6. Pilates exercises include stretching many different parts of your body, which will improve your overall flexibility over time.
  7. Pilates is all-inclusive and can be for anyone! Teenagers, senior citizens, those recovering from injuries... Pilates programs are designed to be adaptable to any fitness level, age or body type, without losing any of the amazing health benefits.
  8. Pilates classes will place a strong focus on correct breathing as the inhalation and exhalations guide your movements. This helps to deeply oxygenate your body, energize your limbs and build endurance. Pilates is very calming - the focus on steady breathing works to dissolve stress and help you stay present in the moment.

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What Are The Different Styles of Pilates?

When you think of 'Pilates', do you picture a fitness studio with an instructor up the front and everyone following the movements from their mats? You'd be right - classic Pilates classes look exactly like this. But Pilates has developed and diversified over the years and now there are over 6 main styles of Pilates. They all share the core Pilates principles, but each has its own unique program. You should reflect on your personal fitness goals when deciding which style of class is right for you.

Classical pilates - core principles
Classical pilates takes place in a studio environment with a mat and a few other basic fitness props. Photo Source: Pixabay
  1. Classical Pilates

You'll find Classical Pilates classes are usually run in a studio, and follow the classical Pilates movements developed by Joseph Pilates over 100 years ago. This style of Pilates will focus on posture, the core, spinal alignment and increasing body strength. This style aims to help you strengthen, align and tone the body. It's perfect if you aim to...

  • strengthen your core
  • tone and strengthen the muscles of your limbs
  • undertake a full-body workout
  • start a workout that is adaptable to your fitness level
  • find a cost-effective workout
  1. Polestar Pilates

With Polestar Pilates, the focus is on creating a personalised practice based on a scientific foundation. This style also adapts well to rehabilitation and healing injuries. Essentially, this form of Pilates tailors to your individual needs so you can speed up your healing and gain mobility again.

  • This is great for those wanting to focus on healing an injury
  • Good for those looking for a personalised approach
  • Useful for strengthening specific muscles to support the healing process
  1. Stott Pilates

Stott Pilates updated the Pilates program and added extra emphasis on spinal realignment. The main focus is improving alignment in the spine, which has many excellent flow-on effects to benefit the whole body.

  • Great for combating bad posture
  • Good for those with lower fitness levels
  • Perfect if your goal is to improve alignment and flexibility in the spine
  1. Group Reformer Pilates

This kind of Pilates uses a 'reformer', which is a piece of specialised equipment designed and developed by Joseph Pilates himself. These machines can be used in large class formats, or an instructor may show you how to use them in a one-on-one setting. Pilates Reformer machines can be good fun, but in a larger class you may get less attention from your Pilates instructor.

  • Great for those wanting to make their workouts fun!
  • If you've already attended Classical Pilates, larger classes could work for you
  • If you're new to Pilates, seek out one-on-one or smaller classes to learn how to use the machines
  1. Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates fuses Pilates principles and movements with physiotherapy to create its own unique kind of Pilates. Physiotherapist saw the potential of Pilates to help their patients heal from injuries, and employ the movements and equipment to target specific areas of the body needing healing attention.

  • Good for those seeking to rehabilitate or heal specific parts of their body
  1. Contemporary Studio Pilates

Contemporary Pilates can be suitable for practitioners of every background and level. This style uses classical Pilates as a foundation, and builds from there, adding contemporary variations to the movements, as well as new equipment. The programs offered by Contemporary Pilates are designed with flexibility in mind - they can be adapted to your individual needs so you get the best outcomes for your fitness level.

  • A perfect full-body workout
  • Great for working on your core
  • Adaptable to all levels

As well as thinking about what kind of results you're seeking from Pilates, it's extremely important to choose a style that you enjoy. This will keep you motivated to attend regular sessions and get the full range of health benefits.

If you try one style of Pilates and don't enjoy it - don't give up! As we've shown, there are so many forms of Pilates out there to choose from. Even simply changing your Pilates teacher can vastly improve the experience.

All the different styles of Pilates will are taught differently, but all produce two key results - a stronger core and a holistic sense of calm. If you enjoy one style of Pilates, give the other kinds a try to take advantage of all the benefits available!

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Pilates Refomer classes near you
Have fun and get fit with the Pilates reformer machines! Photo Source: Pixabay

Where Can I Find Pilates Classes Near Me?

  1. Group Fitness In The Studio or Gym

Your local Pilates studio will certainly off group Pilates classes, and these may also be included in the membership prices for your local gym! Whether you're interested in Classical Pilates on the mat, or taking advantage of specialised Pilates equipment, you can use these classes to get support from a qualified instructor and stay motivated in your fitness journey with the support of a group fitness class.

  1. Private Sessions With A Pilates Instructor

To refine your technique and kick your health goals, nothing beats hiring a personal Pilates trainer for some one-on-one attention. You could do this a few times, then move back to group lessons with better technique.

  1. A Pilates Intensive or Retreat

If you find you pick things up faster with intensive learning, you may like to look into Pilates retreats or workshops. If you need to get your Pilates back on track, immersion is the fastest way to do so and will help you integrate everything you learn there back into your daily fitness regime.

  1. Pilates DVDs

If you still own a DVD player and want to practice Pilates from the comfort of your home - this could be a great option. You'll be able to fit in sessions around your busy schedule and enjoy the privacy your own home affords.

  1. Online Pilates Classes

If you want one-on-one instruction but don't have a convenient Pilates studio nearby, you can always find a Pilates instructor online. As long as you have a strong internet connection and a computer or laptop with a webcam, you'll be able to find an instructor online who can teach you through Skype or Zoom.

This is the ultimate in flexibility - practice no matter where you are, and learn from teachers all over the world.

  • Learn Pilates Online For Free

If you're strapped for cash or wish to dip your toe into the world of Pilates without too much upfront investment, the internet has so many great videos to help you kickstart your Pilates workouts. You'll find hundreds, if not thousands, of Pilates videos on YouTube alone. These can be very fun, but keep in mind - there is no live teacher to correct your posture or offer advice. 

This method is for those who are very self-motivated and should be blended with some in-person Pilates instruction to make sure you're doing the exercises properly (if not, you could injure yourself!).

Now you have an overview of the Pilates world, go pick a style that is right for you, and get started! So many amazing health benefits await!

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Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.