May 16, 2023 3 min read

Pilates, a popular exercise method developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, has undergone various transformations. While the fundamental principles of Pilates remain unchanged, two main approaches have emerged: traditional Pilates and contemporary Pilates.


At Hi Pilates Australia, we will explore the key differences between these two styles, shedding light on how they have evolved and cater to practitioners' diverse needs.


Origins and Historical Context

Traditional Pilates, also known as classical Pilates, follows the teachings of Joseph Pilates himself. He designed a comprehensive system of exercises aimed at improving strength, flexibility, and body control. Traditional Pilates adheres strictly to the original repertoire of practices developed by Joseph Pilates, using specialised equipment like the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair.


On the other hand, Contemporary Pilates is an adaptation of the traditional method that incorporates modern knowledge of anatomy, biomechanics, and exercise science. It was developed by various Pilates experts who sought to modify and expand the original exercises to meet the needs of athletes, dancers, and those with specific rehabilitation requirements.


Approach to Exercises

In traditional Pilates, the emphasis is placed on precise and controlled movements. The exercises are performed with a focus on alignment, breath control, and mind-body connection. Each movement flows seamlessly into the next, promoting a sense of fluidity and grace. In addition, the traditional repertoire follows a specific order and progression, gradually allowing practitioners to build strength and proficiency.


Contemporary Pilates incorporates a broader range of exercises and variations. It integrates principles and movements from other fitness disciplines, such as yoga and functional training, to offer a more dynamic and versatile workout. Contemporary Pilates exercises can be performed on various equipment or a mat, and they often involve modifications and adaptations to suit individual needs and goals. This approach allows for greater creativity and customisation in workout routines.


Equipment and Props

Traditional Pilates predominantly utilises specialised equipment, including the Reformer, Cadillac, and Wunda Chair. These apparatuses provide resistance and support, facilitating the execution of precise movements and promoting overall body strength. The equipment-based approach in traditional Pilates offers a unique experience and challenges practitioners in a controlled manner.


Contemporary Pilates, while still utilising traditional equipment, also incorporates props such as stability balls, resistance bands, and foam rollers. These props add variety and challenge to the exercises, engaging different muscle groups and enhancing core stability. In addition, incorporating props allows for greater versatility and adaptability, making contemporary Pilates accessible to a broader range of individuals.


Goals and Focus

The primary goal of traditional Pilates is to develop a solid and stable core, improve posture, and create balanced muscle development throughout the body. It emphasises the mind-body connection, breathing techniques, and precision of movement. Traditional Pilates aims to restore natural movement patterns and improve overall body awareness.


Contemporary Pilates expands upon these goals and focuses on functional movement patterns, injury prevention, and performance enhancement. It is often used as a cross-training method for athletes and dancers and a rehabilitation tool for physical therapy. Contemporary Pilates acknowledges practitioners' individual needs and goals, allowing for more specialised and targeted training.


Hi Pilates Australia

At Hi Pilates, you can experience the best of both worlds as we have curated a traditional and contemporary combination workout. Whether you're new or experienced, you will surely love the routines that we have prepared for you. You can easily book classes on a schedule that best suits you. You can also check out our deals and packages that enable you to save and get more classes.