We get asked a lot “What Pilates fitness level is appropriate for me?” or “Do you think I can do a higher fitness level?”. As an education-focused studio, we prioritize your safety and long-term fitness health over instant results. Jumping into the wrong level could cause injury which is the last thing we want. While fitness expectations and personal health goals vary widely from person to person it’s important to assess your current, very real fitness level, age, and learning style!
What are levels in the Pilates fitness world?
In Pilates fitness, levels are designed to add layers to your workout!
Start from the fundamental movement that you as a healthy person need in order to move through life. A change in level means a change in weight, your range of motion, or your base of support. For example:
The fundamental movement sequence of Marching Supine builds healthy hip flexion.
When flexing the hip in the supine position, gravity provides a gentle assist. This lets you focus on the quality of your hip flexion and on your ability to hold your pelvis still. Before progressing to harder exercises, you need to master a fundamental exercise such as this.
A next-level exercise would be Bridge Marching. This takes your quality of hip flexion and ability to hold your pelvis still to the next level by changing your base of support.
Bridge Marching strengthens your hamstrings and glutes while increasing your focus and the challenge of holding your pelvis still.
Layering on further still we can add coordination and deeper abdominal control in Teaser or Balance Control. These are advanced-level exercises.
Teaser strengthens your deep abdominal muscles and hip flexors. It also develops good coordination and balance to stay in control of your torso and legs.
What Pilates fitness level is appropriate for me? To read more and checkout our entire breakdown of levels and our classes click here.
How do I know I’m ready to level up my Pilates fitness?
Your motor control is a huge factor in when you level up. Motor control is our brain’s ability to coordinate with our muscles and limbs to create movement. If you’re in class and you think I can’t do this exercise but I know I can’t do this exercise – that’s a good place to start! It’s challenging your motor learning, you’re out of your comfort zone and you’re tapping into new muscle strength and coordination.
Let’s say you’ve been in a particular class level for some time and you have great awareness of each exercise. You can do it without even thinking about it. What was once a new skill has now been practiced to become second nature and happens automatically. In this case, you may want to consider challenging your fitness and going up a level.
If you’ve been taking a class level for a while and still find yourself humbled by movement and are excited to try to break an exercise down into its conscious parts of awareness, that is a good place to be! You’re exploring the benefits of mindful movement. This level is an excellent place for you to perfect the nuances of each motor skill and hone new movement patterns. This is where your daily Pilates practice transcends the studio and starts to affect how you sit, how you walk, and how you move throughout your life.
But wait, Pilates is more than just levels.
All that being said, don’t get hung up on which level you should be at. Whole-body movement, especially mindful movement like that of Pilates, is about growing in your self-awareness of how you move, not just moving. Instead of just the Pilates level itself, start thinking of the following to help you assess your fitness journey.
What is your current fitness level?
If you’re new to Pilates, there can be a learning curve just understanding the exercises and remembering their names. So if you’re not a regular mover start with some fundamental work in our level 1 or 2 classes. These levels will help you begin to move effectively and efficiently. If you are active daily or have a history of playing sports or exercising you likely have already developed a level of strength, mobility, and overall body balance. If that’s the case you may consider attending our level 3 or 4 classes. On the other hand, you may have experienced an injury or imbalanced muscle development due to certain activities. Always listen to your body and do what feels safe avoiding pain, numbness, or any tingling sensations.
What is your current age?
Your instructor will have certain goals for you depending on your age. That’s a good thing! The Pilates method allows for a very specific and unique workout. Its focus on functional movement helps maintain our strength, flexibility, and range of motion which we lose with age. In all levels, we seek to increase strength, endurance, mobility and balanced muscles development even if pace, fitness level and personal goals may be varied.
How strong is your motor control?
Are you cognizant of how you move or are you moving automatically and can do the movement without thinking about it? Your Pilates journey is filled with moments of conscious and unconscious competent and incompetent movement that challenge your motor control. That is good, solid mindful movement. Don’t get hung up on the levels because it’s part of the learning process, not just an end result.
The human body is designed to move through space with ease, economy, and efficiency. The Pilates method is part of daily or weekly practice to maintain that ease, economy, and efficiency despite work-related stiffness, sports injury, repetitive movement patterns, accident, and/or body misalignment. Each level offers something to learn and improve how your body moves to create the physical change you’re seeking. Appreciate the journey, learning how you move, and keep striving towards better ease, economy, and efficiency in all your movement regardless of level.
THE INFORMATION EXPRESSED ON THIS SITE IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. WHILE WE DRAW ON OUR EXPERTISE AS PILATES AND MOVEMENT SPECIALISTS, EXPANDING OUR PROFESSIONALISM THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCES, WE AIM TO PROVIDE VALUABLE INFORMATION CONCERNING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PILATES, FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT, AND FITNESS. YOU TAKE FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL DECISIONS NOW OR IN THE FUTURE CONCERNING YOUR HEALTH, LIFE, AND WELL-BEING. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT TO BE USED AS MEDICAL ADVICE EITHER TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE, OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE OR AILMENTS. YOU SHOULD CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY EXERCISE PROGRAM.