Pilates is renowned for its excellent physical and mental wellbeing benefits. Not only is Pilates great for improving your core strength, posture, flexibility and coordination, Pilates can also aid relaxation, manage stress and reduce anxiety.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or advanced in the world of Pilates, finding what type of Pilates is right for you will be the key to unlocking success. If you have a set of objectives and goals you want to achieve, or if you simply want to take up Pilates as a hobby, this can really determine the type of Pilates is suitable for you. Each type of Pilates will offer a variety of different health benefits.

Regardless of the type of Pilates class, you find yourself in, there are six core principles to Pilates which remain the same. These include:

  1. Breath
  2. Concentration
  3. Centre
  4. Control
  5. Precision
  6. Flow

In this article, we will unpick the types of Pilates there are to discover and the differences. We’ll be focusing on classical Pilates, mat Pilates, contemporary Pilates, reformer Pilates, and clinical Pilates.

1. Classical Pilates

Classical Pilates One Leg Kick | Complete Pilates

Pilates from the 1920s. Joseph Pilates intended Pilates sessions to be a strong full body and mind workout executed in a particular order and included transitions between exercises.

Classical Pilates typically combines mat and apparatus work following a sequence which is designed to move the body through a full range of movement.

2. Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates | Complete Pilates

Mat Pilates is the most accessible form of Pilates as you can do it pretty much anywhere and need very little equipment. This normally makes it much cheaper and also easier to do in a class.

During beginners mat Pilates, you’ll focus on learning and perfecting the fundamental Pilates movement techniques, suitable for beginners to Pilates.

That being said, mat Pilates is also great for more advanced students as exercises can be modified to increase complexity and intensity and use your body weight for resistance! As there is no assistance from machines, you really do need to know what your body is doing in space!

The benefits of mat Pilates are endless, from strengthening your abdominals, lower back muscles and pelvic floor, to your hips, glutes, shoulders and upper body. Just like most Pilates, mat Pilates also has a host of mental health benefits such as mindfulness, relaxation and reduced stress as a result of the breathwork.

3. Contemporary Pilates

Contemporary Pilates | Complete Pilates

Contemporary Pilates is a variation of Classical Pilates combined with contemporary forms of exercise such as physiotherapy whilst also incorporating modern knowledge of the body and biomechanics.

In Contemporary Pilates, more often than not, classes will vary depending on the instructor’s teacher training but can also be guided by the objectives, goals and health of the student.

Exercises are commonly taught in a “neutral pelvis”, for example, when on your back, the lower spine will have some space between the back and the floor whilst the tail bone and ribs will be heavier. This follows the natural curves of your spine. This allows for a more functional approach which can be more easily tailored to you, inclusion of equipment and props as well as modifications to exercises.

This makes it great for rehabilitation, pre-natal clients and for post-natal Pilates clients.

4. Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates | Complete Pilates

Reformer Pilates, as suggested, uses the Pilates reformer machine. It is arguably more intense and dynamic than a mat Pilates class as the machine is designed to add resistance to each of the Pilates exercises. However, the springs can also act as assistance so if you are struggling to move, are partially weight bearing or going through rehab, the reformer can really help you.

The Pilates reformer machine comprises of a platform, sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys which help the body to work eccentrically against resistance, in turn, increasing flexibility, strength, stamina and posture.

Reformer Pilates is also suitable for injury rehabilitation as clients do not have to be vertically loaded with full weight bearing through their legs, particularly important if you have undergone knee surgery or are suffering from a knee injury.

Regardless of your ability, reformer Pilates can be tailored to beginners or those more advanced, helping you to achieve your health and wellbeing goals.

5. Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates | Complete Pilates

Clinical Pilates is our area of expertise at Complete Pilates and offers a tailored experience for each individual.

A clinical Pilates class at Complete is 1:1 and will be taught by, or overseen by, a qualified physiotherapist. An initial one-to-one assessment will be conducted to get a thorough understanding of your medical history and any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. This is designed to help your physiotherapist or clinical Pilates instructor tailor your clinical Pilates session to your rehabilitation and goals.

Whether you have a current injury, have had recent surgery, suffer from recurrent or chronic pain, have had a baby or are pregnant, clinical Pilates is suitable for everyone.

By incorporating safe, effective and specific Pilates exercises, clinical Pilates will help to build core strength, correct muscle imbalances, aid rehabilitations and prevent future injuries.

Want to know more?

With a variety of Pilates types to choose from, it can be difficult to know which is right for you. Whilst the core principles of Pilates remain the same, particular types of Pilates will enable you to achieve your goals more effectively than others. At Complete Pilates, we’ll be happy to help you find the right class for you based on your needs and goals. We have a range of classes to choose from including:

For more information, please get in touch online or contact us on 0203 764 5668.

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Education is key:

These blogs are designed to give information to everyone, however, it is important to remember that everyone is different! If you have not seen one of our therapists and have any questions about injuries, what you have read or whether this may be useful to you, please just ask. We are more than happy to help anyone and point you in the right direction. Our biggest belief is that education is key. The more you understand about your injury, illness and movement, the more you are likely to improve.

If you are not sure whether this is for you, simply get in touch. We are here to help!