Updated: Oct 12, 2021
Over the years, 3 basic styles of Pilates have evolved:
Classical Pilates is based on the original teachings of Joseph Pilates and is a rigidly unmodified form of Pilates that is utilised by professional dancers. It can be highly traumatic to the lumbar spine and shoulders when practised by the average Pilates client, and is wholly inappropriate for those with musculo-skeletal issues. It is also notable that Joseph Pilates’ own belief in creating and maintaining a flat spine directly contradicts today’s medical and scientific evidence.
Fitness Pilates is based on a contemporary modification of the original form, anatomically-based in accordance with modern bio-mechanics. This is predominantly the choice for matwork classes, fitness centres and group reformer sessions. However, practised in these environments it can fail to deliver clients’ objectives, due to the group sizes required to keep costs down, the need for everyone to perform the same exercises simultaneously, and the emphasis on number and variety of exercises to maintain group interest. All of these factors result in lost focus on the basic bio-mechanical principles during exercise and make it high risk for those with musculoskeletal issues.
Clinical Pilates was developed from the early 1990s by rehabilitation specialists who began to incorporate Pilates exercises and equipment into their protocols, and found they needed to modify the exercises to meet established physiotherapy concepts. This type of Pilates is predominantly found in the 1:1 physiotherapy environment, and so is generally inaccessible outside of a clinical or rehabilitation context.
Now Applied Pilates brings a clinically-modified form of pilates into the exercise environment, offered in both a 1:1 and small group format. Exercise routines are tailored for each individual and are delivered only by practitioners who understand the nature of musculoskeletal issues.