Pilates classes use the techniques first developed by Joseph Pilates at the start of the 20th century, to improve body functioning through purposeful and controlled movements.

We have teamed up with Pilates instructors offering classes to suit beginners, experts and any level in between.

Pilates classes...

…involve a series of controlled movements designed to improve core strength and stability. The exercise routines can be floor based (with a padded mat) and utilise specialist equipment which provides a level of resistance, or support, to the movements through pulley and sliding mechanisms.


The development of the core muscles and the controlled nature of the movements performed during Pilates can help to form a more supportive posture. This can reduce the risk of muscle strains in everyday life and there is evidence that lower back pain can be alleviated through specialist Pilates exercises.

Your core muscles like the abdominals (stomach), erector spinae (lower back) and obliques (side body) will anchor your movements during a Pilates class. These muscles will allow you to exert control over your movements and therefore the more you practice, the easier you will find certain aspects of Pilates as they develop and become more resistant to fatigue. 

Pilates can develop your range of motion at a joint as you move into extended positions in a controlled manner. Over time, you will be able to achieve a greater range of motion when performing these movements, which can translate into a reduced risk of soft tissue injuries and an improved capacity to stretch and reach in everyday life.

If you’re looking to improve your muscle tone and change the contours of your body – Pilates is one of the best exercises for you. The performance of multiple or extended muscular contractions, with low resistance, will develop your muscle tone by reducing overall body fat and increasing muscle mass. Additionally, the development of excessive muscle bulk is likely to be avoided through this type of exercise.


Pilates classes require the participant to give their mind over to the performance of the exercise. By doing this, you will need to concentrate on your movements and your breathing in order to achieve the level of control required. This will create a mindful situation where you are more aware of your own body and less aware of external stressors from your everyday life. The controlled deep breathing will also result in reduced heart rate, reduced blood pressure and increased oxygen to the brain, further adding to the relaxation experienced.

You will be required to either hold positions for extended periods of time or perform multiple continuous movements. All of this will be performed against resistance, either in the form of gravity or resistance from specialist equipment. The nature of this load on the muscles will develop their ability to continually contract with little opportunity for rest, through adaptations such as increased myoglobin density to store more oxygen in the cells of the muscle.

What You Should Know

Classes are usually performed in small to medium sized groups which are led by an instructor. Depending on the type of Pilates, you will either be performing movements on a mat or using specialist equipment.

For floor-based classes you will be shown a series of movements by the instructor, which require you to hold you body in certain positions whilst resisting the force of gravity (or other equipment such as resistance bands) against the movement. While mat-based Pilate can look similar to yoga (and share some similar elements) it focuses much more on continuous flowing movement rather than holding static positions.

Classes which utilise equipment such as the Reformer or Cadillac will require you to perform similar movements. However, the resistance will be provided by ropes and pulleys. 

Classes typically last 45-60 mins 

Pilates classes are suitable for anyone who wants to improve their core strength and movement control. The classes can be adapted to meet the individual needs of a person. The use of body weight for floor-based activities can make the movements achievable for anybody. Furthermore, the springs on the specialist equipment such as the Reformer can be adjusted to increase or decrease the resistance of the machine, depending on your current fitness or experience level.


It is a fun activity which can be done by anyone. The flowing nature of the set of movements can really make you feel connected with your body. You will also feel like you have had an incredible workout as you will use your whole body and even some muscles you didn’t know existed!

A thick padded mat will usually be provided for floor-based classes and the specialist Pilates equipment will always be provided at the venue (you’re not expected to carry it there yourself!). So all you will need are some comfy clothes which don’t restrict your movement. 

Prices can vary depending on the type of class you attend. A group mat-based class will be around £10-15 whilst a class using the Reformer or Cadillac will tend to cost slightly more.

Private individual classes will cost more (around £35 and upwards) but you will be provided with more tailored exercises and advice.

Most instructors or centres will take block bookings, making it cheaper per class. Some places will take membership payments allowing you a certain number of lessons per month.

Pilates in Numbers

of participants in a weekly Pilates intervention (2x45 mins p/week) passed a lumbo-pelvic stability test after 8 weeks, compared to 0% in the control group (normal activity). 0% of the Pilates group originally passed the test at baseline - showing a great improvement
1 %

Phrompaet, et al., 2011

Improvement in flexibility measured from finger-tip to floor (when attempting to touch the floor) for participants in a 6- month Pilates intervention (1hour p/week).
1 cm

Segal et al., 2004

15.6 point difference in the NRS (Numeric pain rating scale) between individuals with chronic lower back pain, that took part in a 4/wk Pilates-based intervention, compared to a control group who received normal care.

Rydeard et al., 2006

improvement in a 'timed get up and go' test amongst 66-71 year olds after taking part in Pilates-based exercise twice a week for 8 weeks
1 %

Kaesler et al., 2007