The Benefits of Large Group Classes
By Stephanie Muir
Many large gym type of franchises run group Pilates mat and reformer classes.These classes favor the experienced Pilates client who has no injuries or medical conditions.They often have structured classes, paid for by purchasing packaged deals that bring the price per class down. They are fun, social and affordable.
Pilates lends itself to being a very flexible discipline to practice. You can do Pilates classes on the mat and/or in a Pilates studio using a wide variety of apparatus such as the reformer, wunda chair, cadillac and tower to name just a few. Trending at the moment is the combination of Pilates exercises with functional training such as squats, lunges and other full body movements. Although this is not Pilates in its purest form it does have some benefits. Most of the facilities that offer this Pilates ‘hybrid’ do it in a group format with 7 or more participants.
Large group classes have the advantage of bringing the cost down for participants. Depending whether you attend a group mat class in a gym setting or a large group reformer class the number of people can vary from a maximum of 12 up to 30. Fees for such classes are flexible and they often have packages available and/or monthly fees allowing unlimited classes. Attending classes on a regular basis is an important component to achieving your goals. The affordability of group classes in some cases means you can attend as many as 2 to 3 classes a week.
Since the attention of the instructor is divided amongst many participants the class will be more structured and generic. A whole body workout is normally favoured to ensure balance in movement and the muscles used. The routine or structure of the class makes adjusting exercises for beginners or advanced safer and easier without any disturbance to the overall flow. For someone with specific medical conditions this is not the best route to take in the beginning. Even with a balanced program certain movements may be contraindicated and therefore must be completely avoided. Your Pilates private session would be a safer and more effective place to begin your Pilates journey. From there a smaller group of no more than 4 with similar conditions would be advised.
Your group class structure is not appropriate for some advanced exercises. The more complicated movements involve less stability and the instructor is often needed so spot these types of exercises. Classes are typically made more challenging in your group setting by increasing the pace of movements mostly from a beginner to intermediate level.
Large group classes can be a lot of fun where you get to bring your friends along and make new friends with similar interests. The comradeship during the class helps to motivate each other and share in one’s achievements.
Although not as beneficial as a one on one session having an instructor in front of you that you can speak with after the class or just before is much better than following a dvd or youtube video from home. You have the guidance and support from the instructor and can see collectively what the group is doing correctly.
In a group setting there maybe some friendly competition going on amongst friends. As long as this is friendly and supportive your fellow workout buddy can help keep you accountable to attend classes regularly and be a source of encouragement.
Since there are many people in the class it is challenging for the instructor to connect and know everyone’s bodies individually. As a result this leaves room for incorrect movements and since Pilates is all about precision and control there is potential for ‘sloppy Pilates’. This does not mean you will not feel any benefits. Most group class participants do experience feeling better in themselves and their overall movement. However compared to what can be achieved with individual time with an instructor, they are seeing the tip of the iceberg.
The chances of participants hurting themselves in a large group setting is higher than in smaller or a private session. Naturally people want to keep up and not be left behind. Unfortunately this leads to people pushing themselves further than they should. The saying “no pain no gain” does not apply to Pilates. NO inappropriate pain should ever be experienced.
Coming up next…
Maybe you would like something that offers attention to detail and is affordable? If that’s you or you are just curious tune in to our next article on The benefits of Pilates semi-private classes.