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  • Writer's picturePaula Ramirez

What about Modern Pilates?

Updated: Jan 25

Between Classical Pilates (attached to history and tradition) & Contemporary Pilates (society’s present’s reflection) as in the fine arts, there is a Modern way that represents experimentation, and here is where I stay and hope that other colleagues that read me are in this niche too. This question has been around the industry for a long time and worths the time to extend an explanation for those who don't know me yet, or can relate with my core beliefs in this matter. But also I hope is useful to those who are currently looking for Pilates classes in any part of the world.

Before giving you a basic list of pros and cons of the Classical and Contemporary Pilates schools based on my personal experience, I want you to know that I respect constructive/fact checked opinions since that is what gives richness to our reality. There are no absolutes and 100% that fit in these points, but they pop up frequently enough to underline them.

Classical Pilates Pros-

👍🏼 Memory enhancer. A Vocabulary (exercise names, apparatus know hows) is given to the student to relate with an action and promotes independence through it. Repetition with awareness is king.

👍🏼 A global approach and understanding that the method is composed by all the apparatus as a system to improve physical freedom.

👍🏼 If you understand the goals of every exercise with biomechanics, there is a clarity of how to progress, regress, skip or add for the situation you’re as a teacher and the person or group in front.

👍🏼 The story behind Joseph Pilates and explanation of the whys behind his principles are the foundation of this method and students have a clear understanding of them.

👍🏼 Breathing is silent, just in a few exercises are really focused on it and is cued when the practitioner clearly needs it.

Classical Pilates Cons-

👎🏻 It can be repressive in a group setup for the individual expression or needs of the practitioner.

👎🏻Overcorrecting every step of every transition can kill spontaneous natural movement in the practitioner, also reduce empirical learning.

👎🏻 Too much hands on could end up letting the practitioner dependent of the teacher instead of his/her own solution to a movement puzzle.

👎🏻 Over-glorification of the past doesn’t allow to be open to changes and other innovative presenters or relevant movement trends. The past should resonate with the present of the person who practices.

👎🏻 For a Classical Pilates new teacher is hard to invest in all the equipment needed to own a fully equipped studio, so some end up using just a small part of their educational investment or must wait longer to enter in the job market.

Contemporary Pros-

👍🏼It embraces the personality of the teacher and background more easily than in the Classically educated.

👍🏼The Pilates exercises are all there but immerse in what the teacher thinks is best to come up for the class plan or program.

👍🏼 The contemporary teacher has a green card to mix Pilates with any other physical discipline in their sessions.

👍🏼 Contemporary equipment opens a door towards other fitness and/or rehabilitation dynamics. As also use of the space and versatility purposes.

👍🏼 For a Contemporary Pilates new teacher, there are more possibilites to use right away their education's investment divided in certification blocks of each apparatus.

Contemporary cons-

👎🏻 Cueing dependence because the exercises names are not clarified or change all the time and the practitioner can’t identify an exercise, so every detail of the movement must be explained.

👎🏻 Numbers of repetitions or sets increase and the practitioner has more chances to lose focus or concentration. Is based more on body area, than a whole body approach.

👎🏻 Joseph's Pilates history and knowledge of the whole apparatus of the method is covered by sections and often leaves the teacher sticked into teach just the first part: Mat. Ending with a short sight of the full scope of practice.

👎🏻 Breathing is usually noisy and is not related with the effort but a continuous and distracting overthinking of where to exhale and where to inhale cued by the teacher.

👎🏻Class name for fame. The name of Pilates in a class can end up being used as a Fitness class where it’s principles aren't there anymore.

So what about the Modern way?

I believe that in terms of movement practice, Pilates falls short in underline many aspects that enhance physical health, example: it doesn't encourage enough elastic body qualities. It has also wonderful benefits of course, and that's why I keep teaching it... but is not the end game! That said, before jump off the train, a Pilates enthusiast, should be curious enough to try and experience different views. Definitely read and dig more about the philosophy of Mr. Pilates to know what to expect or to teach and create an individual perspective. Otherwise why bother? You could find also other disciplines and follow the Dogma style too, and begin to preach that their way is the ultimate way.

So what I am standing for is for being less fixed in a group category and find strong and diverse sources of knowledge. Ask as much as you can, have at least 10% skepticism-100% intuition. For a practitioner try, try, try again until there is alignment in your ethics and goals. For a teacher study, study, study, but be sure you are also contributing in someway with clear purpose, not just passing along exactly as you have learned in the backseat.

The field of movement where Pilates is a tiny part, has grown so much that might be overwhelming, but it worths to also explore and experiment. My mission is to improve lives and not make fictional boundaries between what is quality of movement and what is not. If Joseph Pilates was ahead of his time, let's also try to be ahead of our's too. Have all the Pilates pros of this list covered and contribute with fact checked knowledge to expand minds so they can express their freedom through their body, that's my Modern Pilates way. Do you relate?

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