Many people think of Pilates as a type of mat class. What they might not be aware of is studio Pilates and the specialised equipment Joseph Pilates invented almost a century ago. This same equipment is still used today in many traditional Pilates studios, including our own Pilates + Gyrotonic studio at triyoga Camden.
Here are ten facts to know about equipment Pilates and the many benefits of this practice:
- Joseph Pilates and his wife Claire emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s. In 1926, they set up a studio where they taught their body-conditioning method, later named contrology. The studio featured much of the equipment (called apparatus by Joseph Pilates) which was designed to improve his rehabilitation work. His work and studio soon became very popular with professional dancers and choreographers who found that the method helped them to cope with injuries and improve their technique.
- The traditional studio apparatus includes:
- Cadillac (trapeze table)
- Wunda chair
- Ladder barrel
All of this equipment, although with slight variations, is still in use today in traditional Pilates studios across the world.
- Equipment classes are tailored to the individual’s needs and objectives and therefore more likely to vary from week to week. Studio classes in our equipment studio in Camden are taught either one-to-one or in small groups of up to four people, so there is more individual attention compared with mat classes.
- All Pilates equipment uses spring loaded resistance to either support or challenge the body whilst performing a given exercise. With hundreds of exercises and variations available, as well as a variety of springs and possible adjustments to the machines, the teacher can best adapt the work to suit the student’s body and their needs.
- The Pilates method is based on six main principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath and flow. All those principles are applied to each Pilates exercise, both in an equipment studio and in a mat class. Those principles are what make Pilates “a complete coordination of body, mind and spirit.” (J. Pilates)
- Equipment classes are particularly helpful in rehabilitating injuries and working with specific health conditions. Joseph Pilates’ inspiration for the ‘cadillac’ came when he worked in a hospital on the Isle of Man during the latter part of World War I. To support the recovery of patients unable to walk, he attached bed springs to hospital beds so that patients could support their limbs.
- Pilates equipment offers support and feedback that can be crucial when trying to identify specific muscle groups or balance a misaligned body. For the new or injured practitioner, having the support and feedback of the equipment can be crucial in developing better body awareness and progressing more quickly.
- Equipment Pilates is one of the safest forms of exercise in pregnancy. It is contraindicated for pregnant women to lie down on their backs after week 16. Because of the many options available, Pilates equipment exercises can take place with the body in a variety of positions (i.e. sitting/standing/kneeling) that make it safe and suitable for the pregnant student.
- Pilates equipment is also particularly suitable for elderly or injured students, that may find it difficult to lie down and stand up from the floor with ease. All of the equipment is elevated from the floor making it easier for the student to transition from one exercise to the next and from one piece of equipment to the other.
- The most common piece of equipment is the reformer. Many studios and gyms now offer reformer classes where a group of 6-12 students follow the same fitness routine on a reformer for a 60-minute class. A traditional Pilates studio like our studio in triyoga Camden, however, has all of the equipment invented by Joseph Pilates. Teachers are therefore able to direct a variety of exercises using all of the large equipment, as well as smaller equipment and props.
If this hasn’t convinced you to try out equipment Pilates, I’ll leave you with a quote from the founder himself:
“In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see a difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.”
– Joseph Pilates
Our Pilates studio is located in our Camden centre. To learn more about equipment Pilates and how it could benefit you personally, book a starter assessment with one of our highly qualified teachers or ask for more information in centre.