Can the group Pilates experience provide substantial benefits to clients? Nothing speaks louder than results! For this issue, we asked Pilates instructors and their clients to talk about the transformations they’ve experienced from group Pilates classes.

Mat Classes Make a Difference

“Sometimes people minimize the impact of Pilates group classes, but you absolutely can deliver significant benefits in mat classes if students pay attention. Group classes make Pilates accessible to people who can’t afford private sessions. But it’s important that you pay attention to every participant. I walk around and make sure everyone is moving correctly and safely. With good instruction, mat classes can help clients regardless of whether they’re healthy or have challenges.

“Theresa and Sharon (see below) are good examples. Theresa is very healthy and active, and Pilates has helped her find her core and enhance her activities. Sharon had back pain, and mat classes have eliminated much of the pain and strengthened her core musculature. Both of them can take the mat principles and benefits of their Pilates training into everything they do in daily life.”

—Norma Shechtman, MEd, MA, Equinox Sports Club, Irvine, California

“I’ve been working out in gyms for years—lifting weights, and doing aerobics and circuit training—but I injured my back about a year ago and was diagnosed with two small bulged disks. It didn’t warrant surgery, so I tried chiropractic, acupuncture and acupressure, but it was Pilates that gave me the best benefit. I could tell practically after the first class that it was helping. I felt like my whole body had calmed down. After the first couple of classes, I could move more freely, I felt more flexible, and I got relief from the pain in my lower back and legs. Plus, I could feel I was getting a really good workout. After about 6 months of just one Pilates class a week, my back is 50% better than when I started. Now we’re petitioning our gym to have Norma teach another night a week. She really takes time with her students and makes sure we get an overall workout. It’s been an amazing experience for me—I’m hooked for life.”

—Sharon Frisk, client

“I’m pretty active, but Pilates is by far my favorite workout. When it comes to benefits, I don’t know where to start. It has elongated my muscles and given me better definition without bulking me up, which is a tendency I’ve had with other workouts. My core is much stronger, and I feel I’m leaner, longer and taller. In fact, I actually grew three-quarters of an inch! I also cycle, strength train, row and do yoga, but Pilates is the foundation of all my workouts because control from a strong core is so important. For example, having a stronger core helps me do a better plank pose in yoga. I’m a big fan—I intend to do Pilates for as long as I live.”

—Theresa Kholoma, client

Games Clients Play: Better Golf, Hockey

“Because Pilates was created by a man, right away there’s an appeal to men—but so many men just don’t know much about Pilates. I have a class of older men who want to improve their golf game. The reason they started [attending the class] was because they saw how much their wives’ golf improved from Pilates. In my Pilates for Golf class, we address where the power of the swing comes from and how to be conscious of breath, posture and flexibility. My clients feel they don’t have to ‘kill’ the ball the way they used to. But golf is just part of it—they quickly find that Pilates works everywhere. Some clients say they sleep better; one even says he doesn’t snore anymore because his neck position is different. The impact of increased body awareness is amazing.

“My over-50 male clients walk into class like they’re 80 and leave with a spring in their step. In some ways, teaching men is easier than teaching women. Men are not worried about how they’re going to look in a strapless dress; they just want to feel better. I’ve learned a lot from working with men and looking for new approaches that will appeal to them. It’s made me a better instructor.”

—Bernadette Giorgi, Just b Method, Philadelphia

“My wife introduced me to Pilates. I was a failed gym guy not necessarily following through with workouts. I do like to play hockey and golf, but I’m 53 and I was getting a lot of aches and pains, especially lower lumbar pain. Within a few months of taking classes with Bernadette once or twice a week, I was skating pain-free. That was one of those shocking immediate benefits. My balance, stamina, strength and skating posture have improved, and I’m able to warm up and get limber quickly. My golf game is much better too. I’m much more flexible. I’m better able to rotate through my hips, my drives are longer and straighter—it’s amazing, and it’s all attributable to Pilates classes. I liked it so much that we have a reformer at our house now.”

—Aaron Friedmann, client

Do you have client transformations to share with your peers? We look forward to hearing from you! Email Senior Editor Joy Keller, [email protected]