Since the opening of PURE, I have been lucky to have so many lovely clients from different backgrounds. Some of them have done Pilates before in different studios or fitness centres, and for some it is a completely new experience. Many of them seem to be confused on how Pilates should be done and rightfully so. Most studios and gyms offer groups classes of 8 or more where the teacher instructs all the clients on the same things. The teacher spends the majority of his/her time on telling people what to do, when to do it and how to do it, leaving very little time if any to observe how the clients move and how to correct them individually. I call this generic teaching, something we try to stay away from at the studio, as you are teaching people only on the surface, giving cues that apply to all of them. But Pilates doesn’t work like that, it is corrective exercise as Joe Pilates called it and it should be individual to every person.
Ideally Pilates should be done privately or in small groups where the client does the routine that he/she has learned in the private lessons. For Pilates to do its magic, the teacher must be able to choose the correct exercises for every person.This brings me to the second source of confusion, levels. I have people coming to me telling me that they are level 2 or intermediate or something that classifies their practise. But quoting my mentor Jay Grimes; “There are no levels in Pilates, only suitable exercises”. Each person will progress through the Pilates repertoire at different speed. People come with such different mindsets and expectations,I find that the progress of the client is often not related to their physical strength but to their ability to concentrate and take instruction. You need to be able to think less with your head and more with your body, concentrate on how the body feels when it moves.
Right, so my advice on the best way to DO Pilates is to get as many privates where you can learn your routine of exercises that are specifically for you. You can then also do it in group setting. In our studio, we call these classes PURE class, where you do your own individualised workout with other people at the same time. This is how Joe’s studio worked. For some people this is initially a hard concept but well worth the effort. You will be responsible for learning your own workout so that the teacher can use her time doing what she is supposed to do, observe how you move and guide you through the workout. As Joseph’s protege Romana used to say; “I can’t correct you if you are not moving”. So learn your exercises, get moving and let Pilates do its magic!