By Fay V. Porter, LMT
Classical Pilates developed out of Joseph Pilates’ original students, with classes following a set format from which there is ideally no deviation or modification. Classical Pilates also supports and develops a different structure of body mechanics than Contemporary Pilates, with Classical Pilates emphasizing a flat back during movement patterns, squeezing the glutes the entire time, pulling the shoulder blades down the back, external rotation of the legs (legs turned out) through almost all movements, and dance-like emphasis on movements. In Classical Pilates both Mat and Apparatus-based classes are also designed so that all students are performing the same movement pattern in the exact same way at the same time. This can give more of a “boot camp” feel to the studio environment.
Contemporary Pilates was developed as a result of the ongoing incorporation of Physical Therapy and exercise science into Joseph Pilates’ original platforms. This style of Pilates has more options available in terms of sequencing of movements, inclusion of props, modifications or variations of exercises, progression of exercises and movement patterns, and utilization of different movement patterns and apparatuses by clients at the same time. Contemporary Pilates will also tend to emphasize a neutral pelvis during movement patterns, working within individual ability levels, and maintaining healthy spinal alignment during exercises.