Finding The Right Pilates Class

With so many varieties to choose from, we recognize that Pilates can be an intimidating workout. We often receive questions like, is Pilates effective? Do I have to be flexible? Is it similar to yoga? What are all those machines that look like death traps? The truth is, pilates is a big umbrella under which many types of workouts fall, and no two classes are the same. We’re here to break it down for you:

Mat Pilates

This is the most basic form of Pilates and uses no machinery at all. Instead, mat Pilates incorporates resistance bands, Pilates ‘rings’, balls, and other toning props. We think this style is the best way to ease your way into Pilates, as it provides pulsing, stretching and core exercises at a slower pace without throwing any confusing machines into the mix. Physique 57 offers a “Mat 57” class which is a great cross between barre and Pilates!

Reformer Pilates

One step up from the mat, The Reformer provides you with the ability to stretch and resist while putting your arms, legs, seat and core to work. There are thousands of different moves you can do on the Reformer, and we love that this workout simply couldn’t be done on your own. As long as you have a solid, hands-on instructor who is not afraid to corrects your positions, it’s hard not to feel the burn.

Cadillac Pilates

Cadillac Pilates has the same general idea as Reformer, but instead of a horizontal machine, it’s vertical. It involves a lot of positions that elevate your legs and arms for pulsing and toning. For example, a common move involves lying on your back with your legs suspended and your feet in a set of strange furry cuff links (we were confused by them at first, too). We won’t deny that some positions on the Cadillac make us feel like we’re in Circ Du Soliel, but hey, it works. Try: Pilates on the Square with Angeline (30 minutes Reformer, 30 minutes Cadillac) or Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon with Nofar (also a 30/30 workout).

The Megaformer

This is your “Pilates on crack” variation, and is one step above the Reformer. We recommend The Megaformer for those seeking a serious, toning challenge. The Megaformer can be found at studios such as SLT or Flex Pilates (NYC), Studio Lagree (LA, Toronto, Chicago), Solid Core (D.C) and Jetset Miami (Miami). Your first class will likely have you saying WTF, but the results will keep you coming back. These classes are quite fast paced, and the instructor often explains the next move in the sequence while you’re still in the prior position, so your mind doesn’t really get a chance to wander, which we like. Tips: for your first few classes, pick a machine next to someone who looks experienced (or ask the instructor) so you can follow along if you get lost. Also, grip socks and gloves make it easier to maneuver the machine without slipping.

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