Pilates equipment- & classes

In today’s blog I want to talk about the different equipment that you use in Pilates classes and what I think is important to know, when you want to join a class.  In private studios, where there are often one-on-one classes, you do find equipment that is not used in a gym environment.  Let us delve into Pilates first; discussing both private studio- and gym equipment.  There are a number of differences, but also similarities.  You will also notice that there is equipment that are used in both private studios and in a gym.  In a private studio, there are some / all of the following:  Pilates balls, rings, Thera Bands, mats, Reformers, Stability chairs, Barrels and/or hand weights.  In a gym environment, you will find Pilates balls, Bosu balance trainers, mats, hand weights, Thera Bands and / or rings.

Originally Pilates was developed as Rehabilitation exercises, geared towards ballet dancers.  Joseph Pilates suffered from rheumatoid arthritis all his life.  When he moved to America, he got the idea to combine Yoga, Ballet and Cardio (working with apparatus) as a rehabilitation program.  The first Pilates studio opened in New York and here mostly ballet dancers came for help.  As the word spread, more and more people wanted to join; thus, studios all over the world started to open up.  Over the years different schools also popped up, but the basics are all the same.  In the private studios, Reformers, Stability chairs and Barrels, are specifically made for and used for rehabilitation.  However, you don’t have to have an injury or recover from an injury, to use it.  If you would like to work on the equipment, then I personally believe it is better to either do one-on-one sessions, at first, before joining a class.  When one of the beforementioned equipment are used in a class environment, it is best to keep the class small.  In that way you can give everyone the attention needed.

In a gym environment classes are quite big and there is not always space for all the equipment you find in private studios.  Therefore, Pilates balls, Bosu balance trainers, and so forth, are mostly used.  The Pilates balls vary in size, depending on a person’s height.  The Bosu is a “half-ball;” on the one side it is rounded and the other it is flat.  You can use both sides for abdominal exercises, push-ups, balancing, and many other exercises.  The bands and weights are also great tools to use.  Bands also vary in resistance according to the material it’s made of and its length. The rings, that are used both in private studios and in the gyms, are great to use for strength-training as well as rehabilitation and even balancing-exercises! 

If you are doing Pilates, or thinking of starting, I would suggest to make sure that the gym / studio is accredited and that the instructor (s) are well qualified. I have noticed, in many instances, that there are many instructors teaching Pilates, but not all of them are well qualified; let alone have experience.  Experience comes with years of teaching and continued learning.  However, it is crucial that the instructor has the knowledge (know how), when it comes to each individual’s personal health.  For example, when you are pregnant in the first trimester, did you know that you cannot lift your head up when you exercise, as this can cause a miscarriage?  In the last trimester, you should not open your legs wider than your hips, as this can cause early delivery!  These are but 2 examples of what a Pilates instructor should know about.   

Private studios are great when you are a beginner.  Gym classes can have more members and it can happen that the “newbies” don’t get the attention needed.  I am not suggesting that you don’t go to gym; just make sure to let the instructor know about your health condition (if you are pregnant or have a back problem, for example), and make sure that all levels are taught:  from beginner to advanced level.

The equipment used in the private studios are the original apparatus.  Balls are used in the gym (together with the above-mentioned equipment), as it takes up less space.  All in all, I believe that Pilates is a form of exercise that is fantastic for all ages.  Like yoga, Pilates can be done when you are pregnant, are recovering from an operation or an injury.  Whether you enjoy a private studio or a gym environment, there is a Pilates school / Pilates routine for everyone! 

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