Not all studios and instructors are the same. This is not to say that one is better than another—only that every Pilates student needs to find a teacher and studio that fits their movement needs and and wellness goals. Here are some things to consider:
There are several variations of Pilates.
Classical Pilates is Pilates that is delivered in the vein intended by its creator, Joseph Pilates. Call me old-fashioned but I believe the Classical tradition has withstood the test of time and proven to be effective time and time again so I err on the side of adhering to the original method.
But other systems have grown out of the Classical tradition – BASI, Stott, and Fletcher, just to name a few. These offshoots were largely developed by serious students of the Classical method who have brought their own experience and expertise to the original Pilates method. These newer traditions have, in some instances, made changes to exercises (both large and small), changed the body’s position, changed the order, and/or may approach the breathing patterns differently.
As a student, I like exploring these different forms of Pilates. For example, Fletcher Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates’s student and professional dancer Ron Fletcher, offers different movement flow and transitions between exercises that the hidden dancer in me loves, as well as a different breathing style. While I cherish the Classical method, I think there are ideas from other methodologies that can be useful.
The key is to find instructors who are clear about the method they are offering and understand the distinctions in the various methods to help students maximize Pilates’ benefits and succeed in mastering the movement.
No two teachers are the same – no matter which style of Pilates they offer.
Knowing a teacher’s story can inform how they approach the movement system and how they share it with others. Lots of Pilates instructors have a background in dance; others, some sports-related activity like running or cycling. Many were first certified as physical trainers and have branched out into Pilates to enhance their work or are physical therapists. And I have met Pilates teachers like myself who were inspired by the restorative and therapeutic aspects of Pilates that helped them through an injury or illness.
I think a teacher’s own back story with Pilates will influence their teaching style – from hard-hitting and energetic to gentle and mindful. It isn’t to say that teachers can’t be both – great ones are able to match their students’ needs – but their own experience can drive which aspects of Pilates they are inspired to share with others.
Pilates studio environments are diverse
Teaching styles shape the studio environment (or maybe it’s the other way around?). If you’re looking for energetic sessions with a crowd to commiserate with, you will likely want to seek out a larger studio or gym offering group mat or group equipment classes. If you’d like to focus on the mind-body connection in a more serene environment, or are recovering from an injury or illness, a boutique studio like Bloom Pilates might be a better fit.
Or maybe you find you need a little bit of both which makes perfect sense too! There’s no rule prohibiting you from taking classes at two (or three!) different studios. You might find the perfect Pilates practice with a mix.
No matter what, if you don’t find the health and wellness experience you’re looking for at one Pilates studio, try another. Bloom Pilates believes strongly that this movement system can benefit every body.