What is the difference between a Pilates class in a Studio and a Fitness Club or Gym?

November 1, 2015

This question is repeatedly asked in our studio by new potential members.  Guest Blog contributor Eden Haugland shares with us the greatest differences between the Studio and the Gym.  And now you know…

Class Quality: Class sizes in gyms are generally not limited and the number of participants can get rather large. Pilates is very technical and requires a lot of correction (especially at first). Smaller class sizes mean participants get more of the instructor’s attention.  Studio based classes are usually much smaller than gyms (group classes at Spine Stretch are maxed at 5-6 people for example).  Also, the way Pilates classes in a gym are set up make it extremely difficult to control who is taking the class and what Pilates experience they have.  People come and go all the time. The result of this is that you constantly have brand new and experienced participants in the same class. This can be a challenge for everyone.  The instructor has two choices, the first one being to cater to those with experience and hope that the new participants pick the technique up along the way.  While regular participants would be happy with this; no one actually learns how to do Pilates properly because no one ever begins with learning the basic principles correctly.   There is a lot of technique that goes into Pilates and in order to get the maximum benefit you need to start slowly and master the basics.  Mastering the basics requires learning them correctly and having the time to practice them.  The second choice the instructor could choose to do is to cater to the newest participants with an ongoing good basic class but this leaves regular attendees bored and unchallenged very quickly.  At a Pilates studio you will have the opportunity to take a class that is appropriate to your ability level and progress accordingly. 

Instructor Experience and Competency: Pilates instructors generally begin their careers teaching whatever classes are available to them. Pilates studios can provide more teaching hours in a shorter period of time, giving instructors the opportunity to compile teaching experience much faster.  There is also the question of education.  Most studios are very strict about who they hire and what certification they have.  There is a wide range of certification programs out there that allow people to claim they are Pilates instructors.  Some are only a weekend long.  These quick training programs tend to appeal to trainers with other specialties who are looking to simply add to their skill set.  If you want to be an instructor that truly specializes in Pilates you take a certification program that is almost a year in length, requires over 200 practice teaching and observation hours and has a 5 hour written and practical exam.  These extensive programs train Instructors how to effectively teach various clients from sport conditioning to rehabilitation.  These are the instructors Pilates studios hire.  The result?  Studios hire trained educated Instructors who develop into more talented and experienced Instructors.

Equipment: Pilates classes offered in gyms are usually just mat based.  Many people have no idea that there are large pieces of spring resistance equipment (the Reformer, Stability Chair, Cadillac) that participants use at specialty studios.  While you may find a gym with reformers available they usually charge additional fees to use them.  Pilates studios generally do not charge a monthly club fee, so you are only paying for the classes you are attending.  Gyms are also not likely stocked with all the complimentary props and additional equipment you will find at a top rated, well established Pilates studio.  Pilates equipment greatly enhances your Pilates experience.  The equipment is designed to either challenge you further or to modify exercises making them safer for you while you are rehabilitating from injuries or faulty postural habits.

Quality over quantity.  Make every moment of your Pilates workout the most beneficial it can be.  Your body with thank you.



Eden has trained both as a Pilates Instructor and a Professional Dancer. She began her career as a dancer in Orillia, Ontario; where she was born and raised. After attaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Ryerson University she went on to study and certify with STOTT PILATES®. Because of Eden’s background in dance she has had a long standing fascination with the biomechanics of the body. Since her early days at the Ryerson University Dance Program, she has long been on a quest to identify true sources of muscle pain and imbalance. Having endured a back injury while dancing, she began, and continues, to use her own body as a reference point for study. Eden has over 14 years of teaching experience and is the driving force behind the creation and development of the innovative programs; namely POSTURE ACADEMY™, a highly publicized and successful ‘posture bootcamp’.  She is passionate about training in many complementary facets and consistently works to enhance her depth of knowledge and teaching style.

Author: Eden Haugland

Eden Haugland has been at the top of the her industry for over 16 years, specializing in one on one private Pilates sessions. She has an Honours BFA in Dance and her full certification with STOTT PILATES®. “I love being a wife and a mother and love knowing it is within my power to keep myself and my family healthy and happy for a lifetime.” – Eden
Eden Haugland Eden Haugland
November 1, 2015 November 1, 2015

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