Choosing your Pilates studio

Pilates ‘studios’ now seem to be a dime a dozen.  Making a decision on where to do your Pilates can be quite overwhelming.  And the fact of the matter is that not all studios are created equal.  My advice to you is to choose your studio wisely and make informed decisions.  Here’s some things to consider to help you make the decision on where you should practice your Pilates.

Different studios have different focuses

These days there are so many ‘studios’ that have classes geared towards fitness Pilates or Pilates exercises performed in a bootcamp style or format.  Go hard or go home, or feel the burn, become catch phrases within classes that are somewhat reminiscent of the aerobics classes of the 80s and 90s.  If this is what you like, then go for it!  But don’t expect to be corrected on technique, don’t expect to have exercises modified if you are unable to keep up or perform them well.  The class will most likely be quite short in time, fast paced and quite frenetic with music playing in the background.  The classes can have as few as 4 participants or in some cases as many as 12.  In much larger establishments there can be 30+ participants!  If you have injuries, discomfort or tightness in your body, misalignment or pathologies then perhaps you should assess if the fitness style is best for you.  Perhaps a more classic approach with small class numbers, exercises tailored for each class and also for individuals within that class, a highly qualified instructor and no loud music is more your style? Remember that this approach can still give you a great workout and you’ll know that you are safe in this approach as it works on correcting your body’s imbalances.  Pilates is about connecting the mind and body in efficiency of movement, not working until you drop.

The numbers matter

As a generalisation, in life you get what you pay for.  Some classes are offered at hugely discounted prices but offer a ‘cookie cutter’ style class where everyone does exactly the same thing regardless of their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities.  Compare this with a smaller perhaps slightly more expensive class and assess whether you are truly getting value for money.  Apply the same assessment to your instructor: it makes sense that you would expect to pay more for an instructor with more training and one who is always working towards continually educating themselves.  The long and the short of it is – if you pay a gym style price you’ll get a gym style class.  If you want quality and results from a classic style Pilates studio and instructor you pay a higher price.  Ultimately though for the higher price, you’ll receive a better workout for premium results.

Not all Pilates instructors are created equal

Let’s clarify that statement – not all instructors are trained equally.  In theory, you can become a Pilates instructor from completing just a weekend or 4 day course – but do you really want someone who has only completed between 16-32 hours of training teaching you?  Would it not be preferable to find an instructor who has completed a much more substantial amount of training?  Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor what their qualifications are. And don’t be fooled by big talk – remember qualifications DO NOT equate to hours spent teaching. An instructor may have been teaching group classes for 12 months but still only have had 2 or 3 days training.  Instructors should be hands on, knowledgeable and have the ability to progress and regress exercises to suit individual clients within a group class format.  Your instructor should be comfortable and able to take you for a private one-on-one session or manage you and your body within a group environment.  They should also be dedicated to the practice of Pilates, self improvement and continuing education.

Find your happy

In the end you have to be happy with your studio, your instructor, and the price you pay.  Make sure that you feel supported and your needs are met.  What a bonus it is when you find that place and people that welcome you, and you become part of the family not just another face walking through the door and punching the clock…so to speak.

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