Which type of Pilates is best for you?

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Thinking of practising Pilates but not sure where to start? Here is a little guide to help you understand the different types of pilates before diving in to your next class.


Classical Pilates

In a broad sense, Pilates can be divided into two categories: Classical and Contemporary. Classical Pilates intends to preserve the teachings of Joseph Pilates, who is considered the pioneer of pilates practice today. Many instructors who teach Classical Pilates will have slight variations to the exact order or way certain exercises are to be performed. Classical Pilates will teach its students abdominal exercises that emphasise the “posterior tilt” - meaning that when laying on your back your lower spine is completely pressed into the floor, which creates this tilt or tuck in your pelvis.



Contemporary Pilates is also based on the teachings of Joseph Pilates but has been modernised to incorporate contemporary knowledge and research. Contemporary Pilates is still continually developing and will therefore be much more varied than Classical Pilates. You may use a different variety of equipment including mats, small props and other studio equipment. Contemporary Pilates schools will usually teach the main elements of Classical Pilates but will encourage instructors to tailor programs specifically for the needs of the client, using modern research. Schools that are recognised in this field include STOTT Pilates, Polestar Pilates and BASI Pilates.


Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates falls mostly within the Classical realm of Pilates, although this may vary depending on the teacher you have. In a Mat Pilates class you will perform exercises from within the Pilates Method, which was designed by Joseph Pilates. For home and private classes this is probably the most favourite type of Pilates. Why? Because all you need is a yoga mat. Mat Pilates can be done anywhere and is easy to teach in a group environment, often making classes more affordable.


Studio Pilates

Pilates within a studio consists of using pieces of equipment such as the trapeze table (or cadillac), chair, spine corrector and ladder barrel. However, the most famous piece of Pilates equipment would be the reformer - invented by Joseph Pilates and widely used in thousands of studios across the world. Reformers are even becoming that popular that many people are installing them inside their homes. What is it? It’s a bed-like frame with a flat platform (known as the carriage), which rolls back and forth on wheels within the bed frame. A variety of exercises can be performed on this piece of apparatus, yet most have to do with pushing or pulling the carriage steadily as it is pulled on by a set of springs (see the image above).


Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates is more of a subset to the Contemporary practice of Pilates. It refers to a rehabilitative approach to Pilates, which is often taught or recommended by physiotherapists. Clinical Pilates has a strong focus on stabilising muscles and alleviating lower back pain, using techniques and movements to assess pelvic floor muscle activation. Therefore, it is not as varied as the other types of Pilates but is still useful for anyone with muscle imbalances, hip pain, knee pain, or lower back discomfort.


Pre/Post Natal Pilates

Pilates is a particularly useful form of exercise for pregnancy because of the controlled movements you perform for your body. Pre Natal Pilates differs as you have to be extra careful for the changes happening in your body as you prepare for birth. You will mostly be focusing on maintaining and strengthening your posture; toning your abdominal muscles to support the extra weight and reducing any pregnancy aches; preventing and easing back pain; and ensuring you’re in the best shape ready for giving birth. On the other hand, Post Natal Pilates is more about redeveloping your core in your abdominals and pelvic floor muscles; strengthening and toning your upper body; and improving your posture after giving birth. Remember, it is important to consult with your doctor before starting Pilates before or after giving birth.


Ready to book your next Pilates class? Book with one of our pilates teachers in London here


BodyPro has partnered with some of London’s best pilates instructors near you. At the time of writing this blog post, we currently cover the areas of: Aldgate, Angel, Balham, Barbican, Battersea, Bermondsey, Bethnal Green, Blackfriars, Brixton, Camberwell, Camden Town, Canary Wharf, Canonbury, Charing Cross, Chelsea, Chinatown, City of London, Clapham, Covent Garden, Dulwich, Finsbury Park, Fulham, Greenwich, Hackney, Haggerston, Hammersmith, Holborn, Hoxton, Islington, Kensington, Kings Cross, Knightsbridge, Lambeth, Lewisham, Limehouse, London Bridge, London Euston, Maida Vale, Mayfair, Mile End, Notting Hill, Old Street, Paddington, Pimlico, Putney, Shoreditch, Soho, Southwark, Stoke Newington, Tower Hamlets, Tower Hill, Victoria, Wandsworth, West Hampstead, Westminster and St James’s.