What to look for in a Pilates studio

Summer is here, and for many of us that means exciting vacations in unexplored places. We’re all for taking time off and savoring a break from the norm, but we know that many of you rely on regular Pilates work to keep your body feeling great. If you’re wondering how you can maintain your Pilates regimen while you’re out of town (especially if you’ll be gone for several weeks), here are our 7 tips for finding a great studio while enjoying your summer break.

1) Look at class size

One of the most telling factors about a studio is the number of students they have in each class. Even if you’re looking for a private or semi-private session, check out the class size on their schedule.

When class sizes get above 7, instructors have to split their focus and aren’t able to offer much personalized attention (through no fault of their own). Keeping an eye on that many people also means it’s more challenging to catch someone who is about to injure themself.

2) Check out certifications

Browse through the instructor bios, keeping an eye out for certifications. The main accredited Pilates certification programs include BASI (Body Arts and Sciences International), PMA (Pilates Method Alliance), Stott Pilates, Peak Pilates, Balanced Body, Fletcher Method, and Romana’s Pilates.

If you see another program you don’t recognize, do a quick google search of what it takes to get certified. Reputable programs (including those listed above) require around 500 combined hours of training, practice teaching, and self-practice.  

3) Consider cost

While the exact price of a class or private session will vary depending on city, neighborhood, and studio, be wary of class prices that are dirt cheap. Studios offering Reformer classes for $10 likely can’t afford high quality instructors. A cut-rate class isn’t worth the risk of injury.

4) Communicate your needs

Always always always let instructors know if you have injuries or physical limitations. A great studio will be more than happy to accommodate you. If they have grave concerns about putting you in a group class, they may recommend you take a private or semi-private session first. Many studios (including ours!) offer a discounted or free private for new clients. If you’ll be in the area for several weeks and know you’ll be visiting the studio often, it’s worth it to do a private so they can assess your abilities and feel confident putting you in a group setting.  

If you do go directly into a class, remember that they don’t know your body like your regular instructors do. You might need to maintain a heightened level of self-awareness to keep yourself safe.

5) Maintain an open mind

It’s easy to get into your regular instructor’s routine, but every teacher has her own unique style. Exercises you’re familiar with may have slight changes in body position or breath. As long as it’s safe for your body, try their version! You may learn a new way to engage a muscle, or find a breath pattern that improves your endurance. When you come back, feel free to tell us about what you experienced and ask us why we do things the way we do them.

6) Classical versus contemporary

While the teachers at the Collective mainly teach contemporary styles, you can get just as much out of a teacher who identifies as classical. The most significant differences with a classical teacher might be breath. She may also be stricter on form, so be vocal when you know you need modifications to keep yourself safe.

7) Call the studio first

If you have more questions, call and ask to speak to the studio’s owner. Explain how much experience you have doing Pilates, how long you’ll be in the area (i.e., how often you’ll want to attend), what kind of sessions you’re looking for, and any injuries you have. Think back to your first conversation with Clara. While she sets the bar pretty high, any studio owner worth her salt will be happy to chat with you to see if her studio is the right fit.

Ali Weeks