by Wade Edwell, Director at Proper Pilates
Trevor (my partner) and I constantly joke about how the most spoken phrase in our house isn't "I love you," but rather "we'll get there." Jokes aside (we certainly say "I love you more!") it is a phrase that definitely defines our character- that is we are of that small subset of people that always feel there is something to work on, something to work towards, somewhere new to go.
I've read articles from different sources recently regarding the differences in Pilates styles/offerings, and while they are all fairly accurate I would venture that there is a big point being missed in the defining of Classical Pilates, or rather the client that is drawn to it and experiences successful outcomes.
In my opinion devotees of the Authentic work are a breed apart from status quo Pilates exercisers. They are people who are not threatened by being humbled by the learning process, and enjoy sinking long term into a Practice. True Pilates is a fickle mistress, that becoming seemingly more simple as the layers come off is at the same time becoming incredibly more complex.
This is a characteristic of true disciplines, such as martial arts and dance, and to be successful you really must be a person who enjoys this never ending type of quest. This is certainly a reason that many highly-trained ballet dancers are drawn to the work, because they are conditioned to sticking with something and working at it long term to draw out the juice.
I would venture that Authentic Pilates (taught in an individually applied form- not through classes) is a modern day martial art- in that it is a practice that helps us to defend ourselves from contemporary woes and threats.... eg bad posture due to lifestyle choices and work conditions, apathy brought about by entitlement and ease of access to everything, etc. It is a thrilling form of physical, and through that mental, conditioning that requires consistency and commitment, not just new brand conscious tights, a green smoothie and a decent Instagram following.
The strength of the work when applied individually is that it requires the client to become more involved in their learning process. This can be a detractor for many people who just want things to be more simple for them. For many people classes deliver exercise, but not a lasting mental shift by which participants learn the deeper components of exercises, remember them, and leave with a lasting impression of how to better move their body in the real world. Having to take responsibility for your own training requires fortitude- it's hard to turn up day in and out and work deeper into something, remember your corrections, and build your awareness of your body. Therefore, it's just not a practice that everyone can sink into- it can be "too hard," or "too confronting."
To that end Pilates (as we engage with it at PP) is for everyone, but everyone is not necessarily for Pilates. So training costs, lineages and stylistic approaches aside, for me hands down the biggest thing that sets aside individualized Authentic work (which is the delivery method most true to Joe's intended form) is that it is not your ability that draws you into it, but rather your tenacious character- that you are a person that enjoys the process and loves the work.