The benefits of Pilates—great posture, toned muscles, and better flexibility—can be achieved in many kinds of classes, but how do you know which type is right for you? Master Pilates InstructorTracey Mallett shares the scoop on choosing the best style for you.
If you are a beginner: Head to a reformer class. The reformer’s pulley and spring system trains your body to move correctly through exercises without straining muscles, providing a foundation that will allow you to smoothly transition into mat classes when you’re ready. Reformer classes are done in small groups (typically no more than six people in a class) or one-on-one, meaning you’ll also get much more personal instruction. They are more expensive than mat classes, averaging about twice the cost, but are known to give muscles a tougher strength and endurance workout.
If you have a hectic schedule: Go for a DVD, like Tracey’s new Pilates Super Sculpt ($19.95, amazon.com). It features six 10-minute segments that can be done separately or all at once, and allows you to fit your workout in when it’s convenient for you. A DVD featuring a well-trained teacher means you’ll get instruction on proper form and will always have a view of the teacher, unlike you would in some over-crowded classes.
If you are on a budget: Attend a group mat class, but do your research. Make sure the instructor is experienced (preferably through a course accredited by the Pilates Method Alliance) and the class isn’t so crowded that she can’t give you proper attention. You can find classes like these at sports clubs or Pilates-specific gyms.