Pilates mat and apparatus classes are offered online in both classical and contemporary formats. Classical Pilates adheres to Joseph Pilates’ original sequence of 34 positions used to rehabilitate and strengthen the body and mind. Contemporary Pilates exercises offer variations of the traditional positions and include Stott Pilates, Winsor Pilates, Fletcher Work, Power Pilates and Rael Pilates. Most online Pilates exercises focus on mat style classes and positions, as these are the most numerous exercises in the program. Classes utilizing specialized Pilates equipment are also available.
The classical mat sequence, called “Contrology” by Joseph Pilates, includes 34 poses that rely on the weight of the body for resistance. The series begins with a foundation of ten poses to strengthen and stabilize core muscles. The first foundation exercise is the hundred. This is a lying position used to coordinate breath and movement. Online instruction typically includes video demonstrations or detailed step-by-step instructions for all the poses.
Twenty-four additional exercises follow the foundation poses in seated, lying and prone positions. Examples of these exercises include the Swan-Dive, the Side Kick, and the Boomerang. Exercises can be modified for various abilities. Online Pilates exercises often include tips on completing the traditional sequence for beginner, intermediate and advanced students.
Online Pilates exercises using specialized equipment exist, but are less frequent than mat tutorials. Classical Pilates equipment includes the Reformer, the Cadillac, the Combo Chair and the Ladder Barrel. Contemporaries have developed additional equipment, and tutorials can be found for many of these variations as well.
Some online classes focus on more contemporary exercise variations on traditional Pilates. Stott Pilates, for example, modifies classical positions with a focus on physical safety on advancements in spinal rehabilitation practices. Windsor Pilates uses classical methods in a more dynamic manner, focusing on toning and shaping the physical body, while Rael Pilates focuses on the mental and spiritual importance of Pilates work and includes modified equipment. Power Pilates follows the classical program while advertising toning and fitness, and Fletcher Work expands the breath work of the traditional system.
Online Pilates exercises offered in various formats appeal to many users. Theoretical online Pilates articles can help teach specific benefits or challenges of each position. Videos allow users the ability to pause, rewind or skip exercises that are too easy or too difficult for them. Community sites can be more costly, but they often offer independent libraries of written information, video classes, support forums and additional health information. The cost of online Pilates exercises range by site, but many are offered free of charge as well.
Despite the advantages of exercising online, Pilates exercises traditionally were meant to be personally tailored classes led by qualified instructors. Disadvantages of working without direct contact with an instructor include the inability to ask questions or clarify information, the lack of community support and position-specific modifications, which could lead to injury. Also, online information ranges in quality, and knowing online instructor credentials can help better ensure safe training practices.