Is Pilates at my gym as good as Pilates in a studio? Want an honest answer?
Very likely not! Here’s why:
1. Class Quality: Class sizes in gyms are generally not limited and the number of participants can get rather large. Pilates is very technical and requires a lot of correction (especially at first). Smaller class sizes mean participants get more of the instructor’s attention. Studio based classes are usually much smaller than gyms (our group classes are maxed at 6 people for example). Also, the way Pilates classes in a gym are set up make it extremely difficult to control who is taking the class and what Pilates experience they have. People come and go all the time. The result of this is that you constantly have brand new and experienced participants in the same class. This can get very frustrating for everyone. The instructor has two choices, the first one being to cater to the experienced people and hope that the new participants pick the technique up along the way. While regular participants would be happy with this all this means is that no one actually learns how to do Pilates properly because no one ever starts from square one. There is a lot of technique that goes in to this workout and in order to get the maximum benefit you need to start slowly and master the basics. Mastering the basics requires learning them in the first place. The instructor could also choose to cater to the newest participants with an ongoing good basic class but this leaves regular attendees board and unchallenged very quickly. At an actual Pilates studio you will have the option of taking whatever class is appropriate to your ability level. Everyone is happy!
2. Instructor Experience and Competency: What’s the better deal – traveling to teach one class or traveling to teach 4 or 5 in a row? Pilates instructors begin their careers teaching whatever classes are available to them. They quickly realize it is more worth their time to work in a studio that can offer them a full shift of classes as opposed to one class at a time. They make more money faster. Studio work is where it’s at for instructors. Because of this, studios have their choice of instructors and can pick the most talented ones to work for them. Studios can provide more teaching hours in a shorter space of time, giving instructors to opportunity to compile teaching experience much faster. There is also the question of training. Studios for the most part are very strict about who they hire and what certification they have. There is a wide range of certification programs out there that allow people to claim they are Pilates instructors. Some are only a weekend long! These quick training programs tend to appeal to trainers with other specialties who are looking to add to their skill set. If you want to be an instructor that truly specializes in Pilates you take a certification program that is almost a year in length, requires over 200 practise teaching and observation hours and has a 5 hour written and practical exam. These are the instructors Pilates studios hire. The result? Studios hire better trained people and have the facility develop more talented, experienced instructors.
3. Equipment: Pilates classes offered in gyms are usually just mat based. Many people have no idea that there are massive pieces of spring resistance equipment (the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac) that participants use at specialty studios. While every once in a while you will find a gym with reformers available they usually charge an additional fee to use them and they are likely are not stocked with all the complimentary props and additional equipment you will find at a top rated, well established Pilates studio. This is what we do! This is what we specialize in! Pilates equipment greatly enhances your pilates experience and you are missing out if you don’t have it available to you.
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