Pilates vs. Pilates – how to choose the right type of class for you

With so many Pilates options out there these days, it can be tricky to choose which is best for you. Do you get more benefit from the personal attention of a Private class? Or do you work harder with the energy and flow of a group atmsophere?

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Both are right and each style has its benefits. The trick is finding which is the best class for you, depending on your personality, your body and your schedule.

For example, if you are new to pilates but have regularly exercised before and are fairly in touch with your body, you might find the flow and structure of a group class gets you right on track. You are used to listening and watching for instructions and you know when to stop if something doesn’t feel right. As always, the more feedback you can get from a teacher, the better your form (and therefore the benefits) so choose a class with a well-trained instructor and a small class size (less than 10 is perfect).

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If you are new to pilates but have a sore back (or knee, or neck, or shoulder, or little toe…….we’ve seen everything!) then a group class may not be your best choice. Some Pilates exercises can be harmful if you’ve not yet learned how to manage your injury in different positions.  This is where the studio work is for you! You can work just as hard, on all parts of the body, but your knowledgable instructor will know how to choose and modify exercises so they are safe and effective in a personalised way.

Conditions such as a weakened pelvic floor, or a lower back disc injury or joint strain, don’t cope well with some of the common positions and challenges in the Pilates floor repertoire. In the studio environment, a private class is always going to give you top results (it’s like a personal trainer, a physical therapist and a boot camp teacher all in one) but semi-private sessions make this individualized approach to pilates more affordable and allow you to attend more regularly. Look for groups of no more than 3 or 4 and individually directed sessions where the teacher is with you the whole time.

So, here’s a few pointers……

– the smaller the class the more individual correction you’ll get

– the better your form, the more you’ll benefit

– your enjoyment factor is important! Stick to groups if you love the atmosphere of working in a group. Stick to privates if you love, love, love having that one-on-one attention

– respect your body. If you are recovering from an injury or managing a condition, stick to classes where your current limits are respected and accommodated

– consistency is the key! Finding a balance of classes that suit your timetable and budget will give you the best results over time

There are many teachers, studios and classes out there so if you’re still confused, ask for advice. Any teacher should be able to advise a class or combination that works for you and your budget.

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