Classical v Contemporary Pilates

Joseph Pilates’ life work was developing & tweaking his pioneering exercise system which he called ‘Contrology’. We refer to it now simply as Pilates. However many differences have evolved between the original Pilates Joe designed and the contemporary forms of Pilates available today.

The last few years has also seen an explosion in the popularity of ‘Pilates based exercise’, with hybrids of the method emerging & amalgamating with other exercise disciplines & sports, for example – ‘Piloxing’ is Pilates joined with Boxing, or ‘PiYo’ which is an aerobic version of Pilates & Yoga mixed together, or ‘Pilates Barre,’ which fuses Pilates with Ballet.

Step into most contemporary Pilates classes and you will typically find the session combine a selection of the original movements along with modern variations and alternatives, catering to the varied group of practitioners, where levels of capability will differ greatly.
Small equipment such as blocks, straps, bands, balls, and small weights are frequently used in contemporary classes, as aids to either help execute the movement or to create evolutions & progressions. In a classical mat Pilates session no equipment is necessary, though can be incorporated.
Contemporary Pilates doesn’t tend to follow the original order either but rather it draws together a selection of coordinating movements, which provide a full body workout using Pilates principles.

Each teacher will be unique, bringing together elements they have learnt through different training providers, professional experience etc, for example, a teacher qualified in both Pilates & Yoga may combine the two disciplines in their classes, or a Physiotherapist qualified in teaching Pilates may specialise their knowledge in injury management & rehabilitation, thus adapting the exercises accordingly.

Rarely will you find classes focused on learning & performing the original 34 movements, practiced in the order Joe Pilates designed them to be done, usually because it’s very challenging. One’s limitations will be highlighted, yet the strive to continually improve technique and achieve deeper levels of competency is the ambition.

Promise Pilates offer both Classical & Contemporary Pilates classes.

– This article has been published in the April edition of Life Magazines –