By Yuuki Yamagiwa
As a millennial, I find myself constantly surrounded by knowledge that tells me what is “trending” and “in-style.” As technology progresses and newfound changes take place at a fast pace, it can be difficult to narrow down Google searches or choose a Pilates class to take when there are so many Pilates studios and styles to choose from.
With the thousands of varieties and styles that now exist just within Los Angeles, I find that I now live in a generation where Pilates is evolving and bringing about new styles at a rapid pace. There are pros and cons to the idea of change. Change keeps things exciting, and it allows an evolution to happen so that it can keep up with the times. It also attracts more people to take part in Pilates since there are so many options available. However, there are cons to this as well. Change takes away from what Joseph Pilates originally created. It distorts what he believed would create strength in the body, and it takes away from the experience of dedication, consistency, and perseverance required to practice Classical Pilates.
In Classical Pilates classes, clients practice the same exercises in the same order. The role of the teacher is to guide and help clients only if and when needed and to address clients’ specific needs. As clients progress, teachers also present new exercises depending on their clients’ levels of ability. There is no music, nor a change in the exercises that the clients practice.
By being a practitioner of Classical Pilates, you develop a sense of consistency that would not be possible if you were to practice something different everyday. Although I enjoy the idea of change and keeping up with what is new and trendy, I have noticed how truly beneficial Classical Pilates can be. By practicing the same exercises every time, I have noticed subtle improvements in even the exercises I believed were easier to begin with, and significant improvements in the exercises I used to believe were too hard. It helped me develop an awareness in my own strength and capabilities, and more importantly, I have learned the importance of developing a trusting relationship between student and teacher when one practices with the same teacher consistently. It can be a lot of fun to practice a different style or variation of Pilates, but staying true to what Joseph Pilates created has allowed me to stay grounded in the roots of the tradition.
My preference for Classical Pilates does not mean that I am completely barred from practicing other styles and variations; I have learned much from watching and learning from different perspectives as well. I also think change has aided the Pilates community to grow and become as popular as it has today. But I was more than blessed to find Classical Pilates at an early time in my life, as it has allowed me to develop a sense of awareness in how and why Pilates himself created his exercises and ordered them in the way that he did.
Ten years from now, I know that all of our Pilates journeys will be different depending on which style(s) we decide to practice and pursue. However, my hope is that Classical Pilates, the method and exercises that Joseph Pilates has left behind, will continue to be embraced, studied, and practiced in the years to come, and that his teachings will continue to influence the generations of the future.