Pilates Reformer Group Classes

An Introduction to Pilates Reformer Group Classes

Since the early 2000s, boutique fitness studios offering group fitness classes such as spin, boxing, or barre, have sprung up on Main Streets and in shopping centers and mini-malls all over the United States. This new business model, combined with the growing awareness of Pilates, resulted in a new crop of stand-alone group Reformer class studios, as opposed to traditional Pilates studios, where the bread-and-butter clients take private sessions and the occasional duet or semi-private session. Some Reformer studios are independent, others are part of national or international franchises, but until the pandemic slowed their roll, they were responsible for introducing many people to Reformer workouts and Pilates in general. This includes people who might not have sought out Pilates before, such as younger people, cardio aficionados, and men.

Group Reformer Classes

Considerations When Looking for a Group Reformer Class

When looking for a Pilates group Reformer class, consider the training of the instructors. Are they certified? If so, do they have a nationally recognized Pilates instructor certification or were they trained in-house? Are the Pilates machines well-maintained or are they shabby, grimy, or rickety? Does someone greet you when you arrive, and make you feel welcome and valued? Do they adhere to their locality’s Covid-19 protocols, whether it’s a socially distanced layout, masking mandates, or proof of vaccination? Finally, do you “vibe” with the instructor and the overall look and feel of the business. You may love loud music pumping through the sound system and bright lights, or you may prefer a more zen atmosphere. You may enjoy the energy of a twelve-person group class, or you may prefer a smaller group of five to six students. Don’t be afraid to studio hop as you begin. You will very quickly find your “tribe.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Are group Reformer classes right for me?

Yes, as long as you are prepared. First, bring or buy a pair of grip socks. These are required by most studios for hygiene as well as safety. Some studios may require a prerequisite of a private session or two to orient you on the equipment. If you are new to Pilates, the studio, or the instructor, arrive early, let the instructor know a bit about your fitness experience and any injuries, and choose a spot where he or she can see you.

Can I start group classes as a beginner?

Yes. Some studios offer special beginner classes on their schedules, either weekly or every couple of months. These classes include more instruction about the equipment and the basic exercises and may move at a slower pace.

How do I know what level class to take?

Start with a more basic class and level up as you feel comfortable with the equipment (you’ll be responsible for your own equipment set up, including spring settings and small props) and exercises. Remember that Pilates, even in an athletic setting, is a subtle modality. As you learn how to work more deeply, you will see and feel changes in your body even by just practicing familiar exercises.

Do I have to know all the exercises?

No. As boutique Pilates studios have proliferated, instructors have gotten more and more creative with the classical repertoire. As a result, expect to see challenging variations on the familiar exercises such as Footwork, Pelvic Lift, and Short Box that draw from disciplines as varied as dance, boxing, and barre.

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