If you want to take Pilates classes, you have a variety to choose from. Unless you live in a very small area where there may be only one or two instructors, you should have several different types of exercises classes available to you. And not all Pilates classes are the same, so you should look into the different ones and find the class or classes that are a good match for your exercise needs.
Many more areas are offering classes with the Pilates Reformer. The reformer is a Pilates machine that you use to do various exercises. All Pilates started out using these machines, but their cost lead some people to develop Pilates routines using movements like you would use on a machine. Each class won’t offer the same thing, nor will each one give you quite the same benefit.
Pilates classes that don’t use the machine still offer all the benefits of the Reformer. The movements are just more under your control and can be less structured. But they should all mimic a type of movement you can do on the Reformer machine.
Some classes involve a large group in which everyone brings his or her own mat. The instructor leads the group through the gentle Pilates movements. Some classes do have mats available, but if you choose this type of workout class be sure to invest in a mat right away. They’re inexpensive, and you won’t have to use a mat that someone else has sweated on!
Other classes use a variety of equipment instead of a Pilates machine or just mats. Balance balls are a popular item for not just Pilates these days but all types of exercise classes. Using a balance ball does what it says—it forces you to balance yourself, which works a variety of tiny muscle groups that it’s hard to exercise in any other way.
Resistance bands are excellent for mimicking the movements of a Pilates machine and offering adjustable resistance. You’ll get more benefit out of Pilates movements with a band or some type of resistance than you will making the movements on your own. Classes that use bands or a Pilates circle are the closest to the type of workout you get on a machine.
Pilates classes for certain conditions are usually available where a variety of classes are offered, too. Pilates for seniors, for instance, might be a choice. Pilates is naturally low impact, but classes especially for those with arthritis or mobility problems may be available.
Pilates for those who want to combine it with some type of dance or more active workout are becoming popular. Pilates for pregnancy is also a type of class that’s becoming more popular as the benefits of exercise for expectant mothers is becoming more and more clear.
You could also take a session or two of private Pilates instruction to learn the basics. Try a few different classes, and you’ll better be able to tell which types of Pilates classes are right for you.