Top Ways to Learn Pilates

Choosing the Right Option Based on Your Budget and Experience

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Pilates has become so popular that new opportunities for instruction are cropping up everywhere. While it's always best to start with a certified instructor, the approach you take can vary significantly based on your budget, physical health, and experience.

Today, in addition to private and group instruction, there is a plethora of books, DVD, and even interactive programs that allow you to practice at home or with friends.

Mat or Reformer?

One of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether to start with mat work or launch straight into working with equipment like the reformer.

For those used to a gym set-up, the reformer can often give the impression that you are doing "more" than a regular mat class. In the end, this may be something of a fallacy, but there is certainly a draw to the machine that keeps people coming back. That alone is a big plus.

The advantage of mat work is that you can focus on getting the foundation of your practice right before moving on to equipment.

Moreover, mat work is wholly transportable and something you can do anywhere. By contrast, reformer-based training requires that you find a dedicated, fully equipped Pilates studio. Most gyms that offer Pilates will only conduct mat-based classes.

Private, Duet, or Group Training

Private Pilates instruction is considered to be a luxury by most and for good reason. Depending on where you live, a private instructor can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour.

While there is certainly a benefit to one-on-one training (and the convenience of working out at home can't be beat), as an on-going expense, the price tag can be prohibitive. With that being said, starting off with a few private lessons may be considered a worthwhile investment if only to set you off in the right direction.

Another alternative is duet training. As the name implies, "doing a duet" means that two people are being trained, often at the same price as a single. The only consideration here is that both partners need to be at the same level so that one doesn't hold the other back.

Clearly, the most affordable method of Pilates training is a group class. On average, these run from around $25 or more for a reformer class or $15 or more for a mat class. If the class size is especially large, you can choose to supplement your practice with private or duet training.

Whatever form of instruction you choose, be sure to find a fully certified instructor, and choose the level that is right for you to avoid injury and maximize results.

Supplemental Tools for Pilates Training

If you are the kind of person who loves gaining insights about your fitness efforts, you are definitely in luck with Pilates. There are literally hundreds of book and DVD titles to choose from, ranging from basic instruction to advanced hybrid techniques like Pilates on the ball or Pilates with yoga. Many of these titles are available in e-reader format or can be viewed free of charge on YouTube.

There are even interactive tools like Wii Fit that offer virtual trainers who can lead you through your practice and offer real-time advice based on your performance. There is currently a Wii Fit Pilates and yoga module as well as one by TV personality Daisy Fuentes.

By Marguerite Ogle MS, RYT
Marguerite Ogle is a freelance writer and experienced natural wellness and life coach, who has been teaching Pilates for more than 35 years.