What is the difference between Pilates Matwork and Pilates Machine Classes?
This is a question we get asked a lot at Soul Pilates!
The Pilates Machines, designed by Joseph Pilates, were created as a way to teach the strategies needed to perform the mat exercises with ease. We all have those exercises that we struggle with, and the springs used on the equipment provide us with valuable feedback, which helps our nervous system develop improved strategies for movement. It is these strategies that then get picked up by the nervous system and turned into better posture, better movement and therefore less pain and quicker recovery times following exercise.
You can’t impose posture no matter how much you try. Often our conscious acts of trying to correct what we see as poor posture ends up beings just as bad as the starting point! Instead the body needs to learn better patterns of movement and naturally start to incorporate these into the body. Pilates is really about creating these patterns. At Soul Pilates we combine Pilates with the latest studies in movement science so that the focus is on what each exercise is tying to teach. It’s not just about doing exercises for exercise sake!
The Pilates Machines really help you to see any imbalances in your body, which you may not find so easily in Matwork. Therefore a Machines class is a great partner to a Matwork class.
The Machines also enable you to change the focus of an exercise, by adding or removing springs, so that you can challenge your body in different ways. It may be that adding springs on an exercise challenges the arms and removing springs on the same exercise challenges the abs. This is what makes the Machines so powerful and a firm favourite with our clients!
Our Pilates Machine classes have a maximum of 6 people working on equipment such as the Reformer, Trapeze Table, Chair, Barrel and Spine Corrector as well as Mat. You will work more individually, than in a Matwork class, with overall support and teaching from your instructor. This is why we ask people to undertake a 1:1 session first (or a smaller beginner 6-week course) so that you are familiar with the equipment and some of the exercises before you begin group classes.
Mat classes have a maximum of 8 people with everyone working on the same exercise taught by your instructor, which is why we offer classes at different levels. Beginner classes are suitable for anyone who is new to Pilates or those who want to recap on the basics. Mixed ability classes are open to all and more options are provided to offer different levels and variations for many of the exercises. We will also look to add in more dynamic movement where we look at full body integration. Our Intermediate / Advanced classes are open to anyone who has taken 10 or more Pilates classes and are much more fast paced and don’t offer so many of the basic variations. That said we are happy for you to regress exercises to a level you’re happy with, which you will have learned in our other classes.
I personally love both forms of Pilates. For me it feels like Matwork has more focus on core strength as you have no support from springs, whereas in the Machine classes, we can do more work in standing, sitting and dynamic positions and the effect on your body feels much greater with quicker results. Matwork is also open to being done anywhere, so you can get a few minutes in at home or on a balcony on holiday so it’s a great place to learn exercises that can be done anywhere!
We see the most benefit, and quickest change, in people who take 2 – 3 classes per week ideally a mix of both classes. It is also worthwhile taking a 1:1 session every now and again to revisit the Machines and ensure you’re still working effectively and efficiently.