Over a decade after the word Pilates was deemed to be generic by the US courts, the divide between factions in our Pilates community is still very wide and very real. Regardless of how and where you were trained, or what brand of Pilates you teach, Classical Pilates is still important and still very much matters.
Pilates has a history
Joseph Pilates developed a complete method of exercise that included many bespoke exercises along with patented pieces of apparatus that used springs for resistance. He did all of this less than a century ago.
Whether we choose to follow exactly what Mr. Pilates taught or not, we should know what he created. After all, we now make a living from his work. Plus, we have people who are still alive who worked with him!
When I went to graduate school for Philosophy, we all had to pass competency exams in ancient Greek philosophy, medieval philosophy, and modern philosophy. It didn’t matter what field we specialized in, we had to show that we knew the history of philosophy. I believe that the same should be true about Pilates, Every Pilates teacher should have a background in the history of Pilates – in classical Pilates.
Classical Pilates still works
While there may be good arguments for why changes were made to the Pilates apparatus over the years, why more “fundamentals” were added in, or why exercises or their order were changed, most of us still teach exercise that is recognizable as Pilates.
Why is this? Because Classical Pilates still works. The exercises work, the order works, and the apparatus works. If it didn’t, people wouldn’t still pay to learn and do the Classical work.
Classical Pilates can be modified
When I read comments and questions on line from contemporary teachers, I can see how they have been taught to look at the Classical system as being stunted and unchanging. This is far from the truth!
We skip inappropriate exercises, add props as needed, and move around the studio to use different pieces of apparatus as indicated. Lots of space to modify!
Classical Pilates is fun
Seriously, the work is super hard, but super fun! Some of the Pilates exercises that are almost impossible on contemporary apparatus become do-able and fun on the old school Gratz apparatus.
There is a large community of Pilates professionals, classical and contemporary, who are interested in furthering the spread of Classical Pilates. You will find opportunities for both live and online community, mentorship, and continuing education.
As we get further away from the time of Joseph Pilates, this learning is even more important!