I’m looking for a Pilates class in Bristol- what type is best?

If you have just moved to the city- or even been here for a while, and want to start Pilates, do you know where to start?

It can be a mind field of different levels, types and styles of classes. Sometimes it’s just a little over whelming to know  what you need and what your signing up for. Here we will explore some of the differences.

Classical vs modern vs fitness

This is a very touchy subject amongst the Pilates professionals! All are qualified but with a slightly different belief and style.

Lets start with classical Pilates. This is branded as ‘true’ or ‘pure’ pilates by some. Teachers tend to stick closely to the sequence and teachings of Joseph Pilates. The movements are taught in the original sequence, aiming to be preformed in the traditional form. The theory being the method is being taught how Jo wanted it be taught. Classical can be quite intense due to its nature, modifications can be made, but generally sticks quite close to the original movements.

Modern or contemporary is still Pilates and uses the classical teachings but there tends to be more variation and adaptions. The sequence can be different each time and more creativity can be used in classes. It also allows more use of props or other types of stretching or exercise to the class.

Fitness is based on the pilates movements but less of the focus on breath and precision to the movements. The focus is generally more on strength and you are more likely to see the introduction of planks and sit ups.

All three have their place and give great results.


If you are a complete novice then a beginners or fundamentals class is best. If you can private sessions but a good idea, to really grasp the method and get benefits. The same is true for certain injuries, working at slower level can be safer and more effective than a faster paced class.

Mixed classes are just that, expect a range of abilities and levels of the movements. Everything from the very basics of breathing to some of the more challenging movements. Something for everyone.

For more complex needs then private sessions should always be the first point of call. This allows the teacher to have time to get to know your body and you to get to know the movements and what you need to do in order to get the best of them.


Mat pilates is the most common type of class, This is where you will work primarily on the mats with some assistance  from small props such as bands and balls. Equipment on the other hand is usually either on the reformer on its own or alongside the other pieces such as arc, spine corrector, trapeze table, tower, wunda chair and ladder barrel. On the equipment you will be working against springs and pullies. These allow to really get a feel for the movements, they allow time and support to perform them correctly. The springs can also add extra resistance making it harder, or easier.

There are then classes specifically for bone health, postnatal, pregnancy, sports, neurological conditions and much more.


The takeaway is to do some shopping around, have a think about what it is you want to achieve. Do you want bigger classes or smaller more intimate classes? Are you happy with just the mat or does the equipment sound more like you. If its more fitness based then maybe a restorative class isn’t going to cut it.

Here at FeelGood Fitness we offer a wide range of Pilates classes in our Bristol studio. Everything from fundamentals up to intermediates, weighted to post natal.

Check out our classes here.


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