What’s the difference between classical Pilates and contemporary Pilates?


The most important point to remember is that a good instructor from any method will be better than a bad instructor from any method, and an instructor who has learned many different methods is likely to know and understand more than someone who has an idealized opinion of one particular method.

Classical Pilates is a prescribed set of exercises following the original design of Joseph Pilates as taught to ballet dancers in the middle of last century. Several of Pilates’ students continued their own style of Pilates as learned from Joseph Pilates himself, including the widely known Ron Fletcher and Romana Kryzanowska.

Classical Pilates is a one-size-fits-all method that follows the principle that a ‘flat back’ is the ideal spine alignment rather than the anatomically normal S-curve. For some people, especially ballet dancers this makes the method feel natural since the posture they typically develop over years of practicing fits well with the exercise routine taught in Classical Pilates classes.

Strictly taught Classical Pilates classes follow a set routine that is intended to be followed perfectly by students and this routine does not change over time.

Modern or Contemporary Pilates is used to describe any Pilates method that does not strictly follow the original teachings of Joseph Pilates as taught to ballet dancers.

Methods such as Pilated Academy International use modifications and changes to the original exercises to allow a gradual progression of exercises according to a client’s ability. This makes the class more beneficial to clients who want to build up their ability over time and also allows Pilates to be used by clients with conditions such as back pain or scoliosis. Modified Pilates is especially good for pregnant women who need special consideration because of the physiological changes during pregnancy.