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Pilates : From its Classical Roots to Contemporary Branches

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Classical and contemporary Pilates are two approaches to the Pilates method of exercise, which was developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.



While both approaches share the same core principles and exercises, they have some differences in terms of teaching methods, the addition of modern exercise science, and variations in the repertoire. Here are the key distinctions between classical and contemporary Pilates:


1. Historical Background:

Classical Pilates

Contemporary Pilates

Classical Pilates adheres closely to the original system of exercises and principles developed by Joseph Pilates. It preserves the traditional order of exercises and emphasizes the original techniques and choreography.

Contemporary Pilates is a more modern and evolved approach that incorporates knowledge and research from other movement disciplines, such as physical therapy and sports science. It has adapted and expanded the Pilates method to include new exercises and modifications.

2. Repertoire:

Classical Pilates

Contemporary Pilates

Classical Pilates typically includes a set repertoire of exercises that were created by Joseph Pilates. These exercises are performed in a specific order and are often executed with the use of classical apparatus like the reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair.

Contemporary Pilates may include a broader range of exercises and variations beyond the classical repertoire. Instructors in contemporary Pilates often incorporate props like stability balls, resistance bands, and foam rollers to enhance and modify exercises.

3. Teaching Approach:

Classical Pilates

Contemporary Pilates

Classical Pilates instructors aim to teach the method as closely to Joseph Pilates' original intentions as possible. They focus on precision, control, and the classical order of exercises.

Instructors of contemporary Pilates may adapt the exercises to meet the needs of individual clients. They often tailor sessions to address specific goals or physical limitations, making it a more adaptable and personalized approach.



4. Emphasis on Core Principles:

Classical & Contemporary Pilates

Both classical and contemporary Pilates emphasize the core principles of Pilates, such as breath control, concentration, centering, precision, and flow. These principles are integral to the practice of Pilates and are present in both approaches.

5. Certification and Training:

Classical & Contemporary Pilates

There are certification programs for both classical and contemporary Pilates, with varying requirements and standards. Individuals interested in becoming Pilates instructors can choose a program that aligns with their preferred approach.

It's essential to note that while these differences exist, the ultimate goal of both classical and contemporary Pilates is to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and overall body awareness. The choice between classical and contemporary Pilates often comes down to personal preference, fitness goals, and the teaching style of the instructor.


At Time2Pilates the classes are based on the classical repertoire, but we like to include other methods, like stretching exercises from Liebscher&Bracht, re-education exercises of the pelvic floor from Bernadette de Gasquet, functional training with body weight or dancing elements to meet the client’s needs and depending from the teacher’s personal experience.

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