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The Great Pilates Debate - Classical or Contemporary?

27th September 2016

The Great Pilates Debate - Classical or Contemporary?
Pilates is always evolving, we now have a greater understanding of the bio-mechanics of the human body than ever before. New styles of Pilates are being developed every day as a result of this. Some believe that we have deviated too far from Joseph Pilates original vision and that developments are in fact leading to imbalances. Are you a traditionalist or are you prepared to evolve with the modern way? This article will help you decide!

Classical Pilates – What is it?

In its most simple form classical Pilates is a discipline. Joseph Pilates created a set order of exercises on the reformer and mat. Although exceptions have to be made for experience and physical capabilities, a true classical instructor will not deviate from Pilates original plan. Pilates feared that over time teachers would become substandard and not do his creation justice, by creating a set plan he made it fool proof. Classical Pilates practitioners have drawn a proverbial line in the sand, they state that only the most original exercises can be deemed as Pilates, any deviant shouldn't be associated with this form of exercise.

The argument for sticking to Pilates original creation is very simple.. It works! Pilates perfected his art, he crafted the mind and body into balance. Someone changing his original work would risk creating an imbalance. Pilates' original exercises are challenging and simple to perform yet complex enough to study the theory for a life time. Why fix what's not broken?

In practice a classical Pilates teacher differentiate themselves from more contemporary practitioners by encouraging abdominal exercises in a posterior tilt. This means when the client was lying on their back the lower spine was completely pressed against the floor, creating a tuck in the pelvis. A more contemporary teacher will encourage techniques involving the position of the pelvis when you are standing up (a neutral pelvis). There will always be a gap between the back and the floor due to the curvature of the spine.

Contemporary Pilates – What is it?

Contemporary Pilates instructors have been influenced by recent research regarding biomechanics and physical therapy. They may still incorporate some of the original exercises, but there are also a wide range variations added for specific needs as well as brand new positions.

More modernized teachers have deviated from Pilates' original exercises by encouraging their clients to relax their buttocks and glutes in order to lower the pelvis and remain balanced. They also open collarbones and draw the shoulder blades down and encourage more flowing movement to develop leaner muscles.

Although he passed away nearly 50 years ago, in 1967, Pilates was always looking for ways to develop his creation. The modern teacher will tell you that Pilates was an innovator. Over the last 50 years we have made many important biological discoveries, as well as developed computers and smart phones which will tighten shoulders and hips whilst increasing kyphosis in the thoracic spine. Contemporary Pilates teachers will tell you that Joseph would be at the forefront driving change and improving Pilates.

Classical or Contemporary Pilates?

There is one thing I can tell you with complete certainty – if you put 10 Pilates teachers in one room none of them will agree with each other! At Pilates Near You we believe that both opinions are valid. Joseph Pilates original tool is a truly remarkable piece of work that that is applicable to everyone. Having said this, not all clients bodies are the same and certainly not the same as they were 50 years ago! Would it be a disservice to treat them the same?

The key is to experience both and choose a style that works for you! Are you the kind of person that likes the structure of a plan or being given the freedom to adapt and be more creative? Despite this debate going on for the best part of 50 years, there is one thing that has always been agreed upon – Joseph Pilates has changed the way we move forever.

How can I find a Pilates class?

Now you have an understanding of whether a contemporary or classical pilates teacher might be best for you, finding a class is the easy bit! On Pilates Near You we have thousands of classes across the USA run by experienced studios or instructors.

To find a class all you need to do is visit the Pilates Near You homepage and enter your location. Choose a style of Pilates from the drop down menu that is suitable for you and see the instructors in your local area.

Once you have found yourself a class you can simply leave your contact details for the instructor.