At Studio Flo Pilates, our classes are not leveled to demonstrate their difficulty, but rather to reflect the growth and mindset of the students that have been with us through years of physical (and mental!) growth and change. Our classes are designed to layer. The skills learned in our 101 classes are built upon in our intermediate classes, which lay the groundwork for the more advanced classes. As you progress through the levels, it’s important to return, from time to time, to the basics. The fundamentals of the Swan mean one thing the first time you do it. They mean something very different when you start learning the Breaststroke.
So, regardless of how long you’ve been doing Pilates, or where you did it before, here is a guide to help you understand where you are in your Pilates journey.
Obviously, those new to Pilates would call themselves beginners. But how long to stay a beginner varies. While 101 classes are encouraged for all students, a beginner student should demonstrate a desire to change his/her body, an openness toward learning, and a willingness to be patient. Starting any new discipline can be a humbling experience. A large benefit of Pilates is the breakdown of old movement patterns and the building of new, healthier, and better organized habits. Re-teaching the body (and in actuality, the brain!) is a long and slow process.
Some students are eager to move out of beginner classes and into intermediate classes. And the desire is understandable. The move offers more flexibility in scheduling and faster paced classes. But beware! Don’t move on until you are ready. And be prepared to straddle the two class levels for several months until you feel really comfortable at an intermediate level. An intermediate student will still demonstrate the qualities of a beginner (remember, we’re layering!). Students should also know the names, orders, and set up of all of the beginner exercises and several of the intermediate. But to really work at an intermediate level, students should be more self aware. Self correcting and self motivating intermediate students are beginning to move beyond the choreography and truly “do Pilates”.
We say that Pilates doesn’t get easier the more you do it. It gets harder. An advanced student will never find the “end” of the Pilates Method. There is always another layer, a little more, a little deeper. Advanced students are able to incorporate all of the skills of a beginner, the self direction of an intermediate, and a truly deep understanding of the Pilates Method. Not just the complicated choreography, but the intention behind it. Advanced students must know the names, orders, and set up of all exercises on the apparatus, and work swiftly through the Method with ever increasing attention to detail and self awareness.
So how do you make that transition from level to level? When do you know that you’re ready? And how do you begin? When you start to feel comfortable with your current system, challenge yourself to anticipate. Anticipate the next exercise, the set up, or corrections you might need to make. This act of anticipating is a great step toward advancing your practice. To familiarize yourself with the names, set up, and order of your new level, alternate between the two levels. And remember, stepping back to the basics is a great way to refresh your practice and grow your skills.