Define Pilates — What is Traditional Pilates? Part 2

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Breaststroke on the reformer with 2nd Generation Pilates teacher Cynthia Lochard

In the previous post, we defined what is Pilates. In this article, we will elaborate more on what is Traditional Pilates and how it differs to other Pilates methods.

As Pilates grow in its popularity, so does the Pilates offering. Some Pilates methods have a more clinical/ physio approach, while others are more gym like with group class sessions. In these instances, the Pilates method is in some way modified, diluted and thus incomplete.

On top of the various Pilates methods available, the exercise world adds to the confusion by cooking up some inventive derivatives of Pilates. Through the haze of what is Pilates in all its methods and derivatives — the Traditional Method endeavours to stay true to the original method taught by Joseph Pilates himself.


The Traditional Method aims to not only preserve the traditional repertoire, but uphold the integrity of the teachings in accordance with the 6 main principles; Concentration, Centering, Control, Breathing, Precision, and Flow.

Pilates Training

Most Traditional Pilates studio’s offer private tuition as it is the best and most effective way to maintain the Pilates principles and technique. A usual Pilates class would predominately be on the Reformer, Mat and would end with 3–4 specific exercises for the individual on other apparatus. Pilates strength progressions are systematic and measured, where each exercise builds on the next. Exercises in the Traditional Method are taught in stages; Beginner, Intermediate, Advance and Super Advance. Exercises in each stage must be executed with competency before progressing to the next level of strength training.


The Traditional Method uses the traditional apparatus in its original dimensions that Joseph Pilates created. Many Pilates methods use apparatus with modified dimensions eg. the reformer and Cadillac/ Table and Electric/High chair. These modifications may seem harmless, but the changes reduce the effectiveness of the exercises because they were designed with the original dimensions in mind. More contemporary Pilates methods have introduced more apparatus and aids such as Swiss balls and therabands.

Pilates Lineage

A significant difference with the Traditional Method is all instructors have a Pilates lineage or are ‘Generational teachers’. This means their Pilates training can be traced back to Joseph Pilates himself.

Joseph had 4 main pupils — Romana Kryzanowska, Jay Grimes, Kathy Grant and Ron Fletcher. They are considered the ‘first generation’ of Pilates teachers and all instructors of the Traditional Method can be traced to one of these four ‘1st Generation’ teachers.

Speaking for myself, I am a 3rd Generation teacher and my Pilates lineage can be traced as follows; Joseph Pilates > Romana Kryzanowska (1st Generation) > Cynthia Lochard/ Cynthia Shipley/ & Jerome Weinberg (2nd Generation) > Yung Ok Yoo (3rd Generation)

You might ask “what is the significance of a Pilates ‘lineage’?” The lineage ensures a level of standard and purity of the Pilates method is maintained. And the core precepts of ‘Integrating the Mind to strengthen the body, and energise the spirit’ is honoured for Pilates posterity in its practices and teachings.

Yung Ok Yoo is the studio owner of True Pilates Sydney and Principal Instructor teaching Traditional Romana’s Pilates. More information about True Pilates can be found here

Boutique Pilates Studio teaching Traditional Romana’s Pilates Method

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