I am often asked by students new to Pilates: “Which type of Pilates Classes should I start with?”
Most if not all Pilates studios in Singapore offer two types of Pilates classes for beginners – Pilates private sessions or Pilates group classes. The latter can be Pilates Matwork classes or Reformer group classes.
The choice of Pilates Classes depends on a few factors:
1. Physical Condition
If a beginner has a physical problem, e.g. back pain, neck pain, it is wise to start with private sessions.
Quite often, these pains are a result of poor posture developed over the years. In Pilates private sessions, students have the full attention of the Pilates teacher and the sessions are tailored and paced to the individual’s needs and goals. The Pilates teacher aims to create awareness and correct muscle imbalances which contribute to poor posture. Pilates becomes an effective system to help people manage such problems, under the guidance of a qualified teacher.
Private sessions allow time for the beginner to start to be aware of his/her own body and the areas to focus. This could bring faster change as the beginner can adopt these learnings throughout his/her daily activities.
If a beginner does not have specific physical concerns, he/she can start with Pilates classes especially if they cannot commit to a regular timeslot on a weekly basis. Pilates classes are usually available in the mornings, evenings and weekends. This gives them some flexibility and they can attend classes without having to make prior appointments with the teacher, unlike private sessions.
Cost does have an impact on the choice of Pilates classes to start with. Pilates group classes are less expensive than private sessions so it is a good way to start to connect with Pilates. However if a beginner finds Pilates group classes are not meeting his/her goals, then it is recommended that he/she takes some private sessions to experience the difference. Each individual is different and we have different learning styles, needs and objectives. Sometimes, it is prudent to spend a little more upfront to learn the essentials and then reap the benefits of Pilates when practising in group classes.
4. Learning Style
Each of us has a different learning style when it comes to movements. If a beginner knows he/she requires more time and/or wants more knowledge of their bodies and the movements, then private sessions are the way to go. Knowlegde is useful as it empowers the individual to make changes throughout their daily lives, to help them achieve their goals of either movement without pain or improving their overall physical wellbeing.
As a Pilates Teacher, my personal recommendation would be to start with private sessions, and then join the Pilates group classes. There is so much to learn in Pilates and about our own bodies (which by the way, change every day), that it is important to learn the fundamentals and the principles of Pilates so we can apply and help ourselves in our daily lives.
Another aspect to consider is the practice of Pilates on the various equipment e.g. the Cadillac, High Barrel – these Pilates equipment are used during private sessions and less so in Pilates group classes, if at all.
To fully appreciate the Pilates system and to reap the benefits of Pilates is to practise the full spectrum of the work.