What Are the Different Types of Pilates?

Types Of Pilates

Pilates involves a group of precise, controlled exercises developed by Joseph Pilates to help him overcome his physical issues that resulted from childhood ailments. There are many different types of Pilates. Whether you’re a beginner looking to get started with this physical fitness system that focuses on the core postural muscles, or if you’re a Pilates veteran looking to take your fitness regime to the next level, you need to understand the major types of Pilates.

In this article, we will explore Classical Pilates, Mat Pilates, Contemporary Pilates, and Group Reformer Pilates. Read on to learn a bit about each.

Classical Pilates

Classical Pilates is known by several other names, including Traditional Pilates, Authentic Pilates, Roman Pilates, and Real Pilates. Classical Pilates focuses on preserving the original teachings of Joseph and Clara Pilates, and the equipment used to practice this type of Pilates features the exact specifications as those built by Joseph Pilates.

Classical Pilates is usually more flexion-biased as compared to other types. It can offer immense benefits if you have spondylolisthesis or a lordotic lumbar spine. Be sure to note, however, that it may not be a good option if you have a disc protrusion.

This type of Pilates is also more prescriptive than other types. Exercises are often done in a particular order.

Mat Pilates

Joseph Pilates started teaching his routine of movements with Mats Pilates. As you’d expect, this type of Pilates is practiced on the floor and requires little to no equipment.

Mat Pilates focuses on developing core strength, and it is typically taught in large groups. As such, keep in mind you may get limited personal attention from your instructor.

Contemporary Pilates

Contemporary Pilates integrates various traditional Pilates exercises with other forms of exercises like yoga, fitness training, and physiotherapy. It may also include props such as resistance bands, foam rollers, and balls.

Contemporary Pilates exercises usually don’t follow the same training schedule as their traditional counterparts. A modern Pilates exercise may lean more toward the use of equipment, like a Pilates Reformer or a Pilates mat.

Group Reformer Pilates

Group Reformer Pilate provides a dynamic, full-body exercise on a piece of equipment known as the Reformer. This type of Pilates focuses on flow. During Reformer classes, you’ll be taken through a series of exercises on the equipment.

The exercises are aimed at improving your strength, flexibility, and physical balance. Reformer classes are generally for between 8 and 30 people. That means the instructor often has limited opportunity to provide personal attention to your specific goals and concerns.


While there are several different types of Pilates, each of them is typically geared toward achieving the same goals – improved core strength, spinal cord flexibility, and overall physical balance and health. Practicing Pilates has a wide range of benefits, including relieving chronic pain and preventing injuries. It is also effective in promoting weight loss. It’s no wonder Pilates is a favorite for professional athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and even many celebrities. Understanding the different types of Pilates is the first step toward reaping the benefits of this popular exercise technique.