Pilates Mat or Reformer?

I am sometimes asked, should I start with Pilates Mat or Pilates Reformer.  The answer to that question is- both and truly, which ever you enjoy more as long as you get started- the earlier, the better.  Although we offer “Pilates” in group classes, it is just a tiny scratch on the surface of understanding the entire Pilates methodology of moving our bodies.  Even our most advanced Endurance Pilates Mat and Reformer classes are teaching very basic movements- single plane movements in both directions- like the rollup or footwork- but we are teaching them very precisely with proper patterning and not allowing any movement that is not controlled, wasted or haphazard. Pilates is a system that employs a very deep understanding of how to move the body- where to stabilize and where to mobilize so that the movement is safe, better executed and contributes to a much more efficient and better looking physique.  Well-executed Pilates on any apparatus or on the mat develops a suit of armor from within.  This is what makes it so popular with professional dancers, athletes, models and other folks that depend on their bodies physically and aesthetically to make a living!  It is also what makes Pilates classes and sessions so challenging and sometimes difficult for those new to the practice.  By employing Endurance Pilates concepts in every exercise we teach, whether in a Barre Boston, yoga, PAIN or Pilates Mat or Reformer class, we are asking you to move your body in a manner that is different from any other type of class you have taken.  You aren’t simply popping up into a boat pose, you are pulling back from the abdominals to stabilize the torso while reaching the legs away from the unmoving torso- employing core strength and oppositional reach and in fact, working the body A LOT while not moving AT ALL!

Originally called Contrology, Joseph Pilates said, “Pilates is gaining the mastery of your mind over the complete control of our body”.  We use the Pilates Reformers to assist students to begin to find the proper muscles and patterning in order to eventually move properly. Joseph Pilates developed his regimen so that the Pilates Matwork, his list of 34 exercises from his book, Return to Life, was the ultimate challenge- in fact, Matwork was homework in Joseph Pilates’ studio.  As a student, you did the Matwork on your own at home 3 times a week and then came into his studio 3 times per week to perfect movements on the Pilates apparatus. Pilates developed all of the apparatus in order to assist his students to become better mat students- to be able to move their bodies through challenging sequences with control eventually without the assistance of the apparatus.  And they are considered apparatus, not machines- your body is the ultimate machine.  In a true Pilates studio, you will find Pilates Universal Reformers, Cadillac,  Barrels, Wunda Chair, Baby Chair, Electric Chair (some like the name High Chair better!) Pedi-Pole, Foot Correcter and Toe Gizmo just to name a few pieces that we use to refine our students movements.

Pilates isn’t a list of exercises or choreography.  It isn’t just a Group Mat class or a Reformer class.  A Pilates teacher cannot teach Pilates properly unless he or she has learned the entire Pilates system of exercise including all the apparatus and through the Advanced system.  Well.  2 or 3 times.  Even if he or she never teaches or performs all of the advanced exercises, he must know where his student will eventually need to go in order to teach the bits and pieces of exercises and the basic movement patterning that we teach in our group classes.  And  good Pilates teachers continue to learn something new every single day.  Otherwise, she is just an instructor, not a teacher, reciting choreography displayed on a machine- and thus, we’ve lost the benefit of teaching your body to be the machine as it is “reformed” by the apparatus!

It takes a good, talented teacher 7 years to learn “Pilates” in their own bodies.  And then, well, depending on the teacher, the appropriate amount of time to be able to understand it well enough to convey to other folks!  At Endurance, our instructors complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of training to teach the Endurance Method of Pilates.  And every single one of them is at a different place in learning real Pilates.  It isn’t a hobby for our teachers, it is a calling and you will be challenged physically and mentally to assume responsibility for your body, your movement and your well-being through our classes and our private sessions.  Start with the class that works best for you and be ready to discover an entire new body, mind and world through our Endurance Method!  And once you have “mastered” one pattern- guess what, we have a way of making it even more challenging, beneficial and rewarding!  Pilates never gets easier, we just get better at using it to make the rest of our moving lives more efficient, graceful and controlled!

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