Ask our Healthcare Professionals...
I'm looking to start a Pilates program. Should I do Mat Pilates or Equipment Based Pilates?
The answer is YES! Both are beginner friendly and work together to help build strength and muscle tone, enhance balance and flexibility and develop a mind/body awareness to connect harmoniously to one’s body. Pilates is a well-designed system of movements that works against resistance and initiates through the body’s core, comprised of the abdomen, lower back, hips and buttocks. But what are the differences between the two systems?
Mat Pilates is a sequence of smooth, fluid movements performed on a mat and uses your own body weight as resistance. Sometimes props, such as a Flex Band, can be used to create more resistance, or to provide additional stability. Mat is ideal for beginners as the class introduces and practices the foundational principles, which can then be translated onto the Equipment. However, Mat is not only for the Beginner. There are 3 Repertoires in Mat Pilates—Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced--- each with a progression of movements that challenges every level.
Many people know Equipment Based Pilates (EBP) as The Reformer, but that is only one of the apparatuses that we use. Other common apparatuses we utilize in this practice are the Chair, Cadillac and Tower. All four pieces of equipment, like Mat Pilates, work the body through resistance. However, the equipment uses adjustable springs to regulate the tension, which can either challenge or stabilize the practitioner. The systems, made up of cables, bars, straps and pulleys, allow movements to be done from a variety of positions---lying, sitting, kneeling and standing. EBP also utilizes the same levels as
Mat, so students are always progressingphysically and cognitively. The spring tension and moving apparatus can be daunting for some, so a private session is mandatory to introduce the equipment and basic principles before joining a group class.
As far as choosing Mat or EBP for yourself, remember that Pilates is about balance, and the system was designed to include both disciplines in a practice. They complement each other beautifully! For example, The Roll Up is a Pilates sit-up often done in every Mat class. For those who find the Mat version too challenging, they can practice on the Cadillac or Tower. Spring tension supports the body through the movement and allows the student to work through the exercise more effectively, while building the needed strength to eventually perform it on the mat.
~Malia Ridgway, Stott Certified Pilates Instructor. Malia’s Pilates specializations include Mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Barrels and Stability Chair, and has completed the Injuries and Special Populations coursework. In addition, Malia holds a certification in Christopher Harrison’s AntiGravity R fitness program and is a qualified TRX suspension trainer.
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