Top Ways to Learn Pilates

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Pilates has become so popular that opportunities to learn Pilates are cropping up everywhere. Here is an overview of the main ways that people are learning Pilates, along with some advice about how to make different methods work for you.

It is really best to begin training with with a certified Pilates teacher. This could happen in private training sessions or group classes, and you can start with matwork, reformer workouts, or both.

If you already have some experience with Pilates and you understand the basics such as neutral spine, C curve, and The Six Pilates Priciples then supplementing your study with books, DVDs and online instruction can be a very useful.

Mat or Reformer?

One of the first decisions to make is whether to start with Pilates mat work, or launch right in to working with equipment like the reformer. The advantage of starting with mat work is that you can focus on getting a foundation in the Pilates basics without the added complexity of equipment. Also, the mat work is easy to practice at home.

Choosing to start with the reformer will probably mean that you are going to be working out at a studio. Most Pilates studios offer both mat and reformer classes. Gyms and other situations usually offer only mat classes.

Private Instruction

Privates are the luxury way to study Pilates and very worthwhile if you can afford them.

Pilates is a very exacting method of exercise and getting started with the help of one on one attention is optimal. Most Pilates studios offer privates. There are also many Pilates instructors who offer private instruction in their homes, and some will come to your home. Even if you plan to take group classes it is highly recommended that you start out with a few privates, and take refresher privates as you can.

The average cost for a private lesson is $55 - $75. Private instruction from highly experienced Pilates instructors can run quite a bit more.


Duets are the next best thing to private instruction and seem to be somewhat unique to the Pilates world. As the name implies, doing a duet means that you are taking a private class with just two people. Often friends make this kind of arrangement, but your studio may be willing to set up a duet partner for you. It is best to do duets with someone close to your own level. Duets are usually seen as a shared private, and the cost is close to the same as a private but split between two people.

Group Classes

Group classes are filling up all over the country. This can be an excellent and affordable way to do Pilates. Group classes are usually around $25. for reformer classes, and $12. - $15. for mat classes. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of a group class:

  • Make sure that your instructor is a fully educated Pilates instructor. Pilates instructor education is quite extensive. Programs that include equipment should be a minimum of 450 hours. So make sure that your instructor did more than just a weekend workshop for their educational certificate. Some Pilate mat certifications are weekend intensives but the instructor should have put in a lot of time as a Pilates student before teaching.
    Read more about this important issue:
    Pilates Certification Basics
    Issues in Pilates Certification
  • If the class size at your gym or studio is very large, make sure to supplement with an occasional private lesson.
  • If you have an injury or any special needs, tell the instructor before class.
    Exercise Modification and Safety Tips
  • Take a class that is right for your level.
  • Promote yourself when you are ready. A lot of people will hang out in a class that no longer challenges them, waiting for the instructor to suggest that they move up. Don't assume that your instructor will do this. She/He might think you are coming to that class because of the time or location.
    Daily Pilates?
  • Start with a Pilates Mat or Reformer class. There are many hybrid types of classes springing up, but it is best to get a foundation in straight Pilates first.
    Pilates and Fitness Balls
    The Pilates - Yoga Connection

    Books and DVDs

    If you are the kind of person who learns well from a book or DVD, then you are in luck with Pilates. There are literally hundreds to choose from. My best advice is to start with instruction from a certified Pilates teacher. From there you will have a good foundation for taking advantage of the many wonderful books and DVDs that are out there. If you want to get the most out of Pilates, start with true Pilates and move into hybrids like Pilates on the ball, or Pilates and yoga, once you understand the basics of the Pilates method.

    Take Advantage of This Website and Other Online Resources

    You can get a wealth of information about Pilates online. As with books and DVDs, I do think it best to combine learning exercises online with instruction from a certified teacher. That said, the instructions I give are clear, accompanied by photos, and I always give the modifications and safety tips for an exercise.

    Also see:
    Free Pilates Video Recommendations
    Best Online Subscription Pilates Classes
    Pilates on YouTube, How to Find the Best Videos

    Find Certified Instructors and Studios Online:

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