Find out if Pilates classes are right for you
Pilates classes are great for any fitness level as a way to increase strength, flexibility and posture. Offered through fitness facilities and in private classes, as well as through fitness DVDs or online, they fit into any schedule and any budget.
Types of Pilates Classes
Many instructors have put their own spin on the fundamentals of Pilates to create their own versions of the program. On top of that, many of today's Pilates classes, particularly those practiced in group fitness classes, are hybrids of Pilates and other types of exercises. For example:
- Yoga Pilates classes. These classes (also known as "Yogalates" or "Piloga") combine the strengthening exercises of Pilates with the traditional poses of yoga. The combination provides a positive effect on both the body and the mind, as you're strengthening your muscles while developing a connection between your body and spirit.
- Water Pilates classes. In these classes, traditional Pilates practices are moved into shallow water or deep water with a floatation device. This method still provides the same core and abdominal strengthening effects, but is considered more fluid and less taxing on the body. It's a great way for beginners to get into Pilates.
- Exercise ball Pilates classes. Exercise balls have revolutionized a number of fitness activities, Pilates included. The ball is integrated into traditional Pilates movements to add additional core strength and to provide a more challenging routine. These classes are great for people who are familiar with Pilates and who want to diversify their workout routines.
- Pilates Reformer classes. Technically, these classes aren't considered hybrids, but they do incorporate an unusual piece of equipment called the Pilates Reformer. It features adjustable pulleys, ropes and springs upon which the various exercises are performed. The resistance from the machine helps you improve your body's alignment, flexibility and core strength.
Depending on where you're taking a Pilates class, you may have to provide your own Pilates equipment. The type of Pilates you're taking will determine your equipment needs as well; Pilates mat classes will require only your mat, but there are pieces of equipment that can help increase the difficulty of the workout. Stretch bands, foam wedge and Pilates balls are all affordable accessories that can enhance your Pilates mat workout.
If you're looking to incorporate Pilates into your home gym, you can try the home version of the Pilates Reformer apparatus, which is known as the Pilates Performer.