A question I’m often asked when new clients come into my studio is what actually is Classical Pilates and what makes it different from other modes?
While every form of movement and exercise has its benefits, so much of what is considered ‘Pilates’ is in fact, not. Without denigrating the work and efforts of other practitioners, it’s important to be clear about what defines Classical Pilates, especially its historical significance as the antecedent family tree from which subsequent branches have grown and diverged.
For me, The Classical Pilates approach is about looking at the whole body and working it thoroughly from head to toe, the way Joe intended, with his exercises on his equipment.
Exercises aren’t simply chosen at random for maximum toning impact. The work is taught through what I like to think of as fragments of a great masterpiece that offers you deep insight into your posture, your breath and your wellbeing.
This is achieved through a considered sequence of classical exercises and movements designed to build clients’ strength during a class and develop their understanding of the discipline over time and across apparatus like the mat, the ladder barrel, the chairs… the wonderful list of possibilities goes on.
Classical Pilates is about developing this discipline and as a committed devotee you will come to understand the broader method as intended by Joe Pilates himself, not just the fancy tricks for rapid results or immediate Insta-love (no more teasers in the wild, please).
The training and experience of your teacher will determine how far you go in your journey of Classical Pilates discovery. This is what people should be looking at when they come to choose between one studio and another.
A true Classical Pilates professional like myself will have completed their course in all apparatus and applications, participated in around 300 student teaching hours and have a mentor to keep developing their teaching eye, style and personal exploration of the work.
Central to this idea of style is the ‘hands-on’ cueing that you receive from your teacher. When we use our hands to help you get a little bit more out of each exercise, you are connected to this history of the method and through the lineage of our teachers and teaching, back to Joseph and the original studio.
Focus on: Classical Reformer
It’s true that reformers are an incredibly popular apparatus filling the Pilates studios of Melbourne. But a Classical (Universal) Reformer is its own beast and it is important for potential clients to understand the difference.
In many ways modern life is teaching us to look for quick fixes and fast results; we trade discipline for convenience. Most of the reformers you will find at local studios have been ‘improved’ by modern manufacturing processes making them easier to use.
Classical Reformers, built to Joseph Pilates’ specifications and patents are definitely more ‘analogue’ than most and that is actually the point of the design and the practice.
The way the wheels, springs, straps and footbar interact on a Classical Reformer not only creates a more honest workout, but a far more effective one. The straps don’t pull you back, the springs/wheels need to be manipulated by the user to increase the ‘burn’ and control and the footbar shows instructors when the client is ‘cheating’ by pulling when they should be pushing or lifting.
Again, the expertise of your instructor is paramount to gaining the full benefits of the Reformer. Many instructors have only been through a basic course that qualifies them to only teach the fitness-based approach and only in ‘one aspect of the whole Pilates system; what they’re teaching you on the reformer isn’t actual ‘Pilates’.
These types of classes have the potential to be useful as cross-training, but as they may be focused on getting a great workout with only some Pilates’ principles and movements it’s hard to see the point.
TMR is different to most studios in Melbourne and indeed Australia. We offer Classical Reformer as part of private sessions with specialist instructors in the complete Classical Pilates method and now, small Reformer Classes taught on a term basis.
At my studio, it’s all about the method, the equipment and masterful instructors who combine their training with experience and intuition to give you the ultimate and true Pilates experience.
Our Reformer classes have no dilution, no compromise. Just Pilates.
To our beautiful current members, sign up to a reformer class and keep on keeping on!