Online or In-Person Pilates Classes – Which Is Better?

13th February 2022

The way we practice Pilates has changed rapidly over the last two years due to the pandemic. This means more options to suit your needs and time!


Like many, I reflect back to the beginning of March 2020 when the pandemic first started to reach the UK as I brainstormed with family, friends and colleagues about how would be the best way forward to keep offering Pilates in an environment where we could not be face to face anymore. Some of the  pleasures of teaching for me was the interaction with clients, feedback, client results and tactile cueing – so to then shift my classes to live streaming the week the Prime Minister announced the first lockdown was met with quite a bit of angst!  I didn’t know if Zoom would work: can I even teach online, how will clients take to it, what’s the best backdrop, can they hear me, and was the broadband up to it. In those early first few days I was fumbling through sessions and greatly appreciated my clients’ enthusiasm, patience and good humour!

Two years on and the online teaching method is still going strong. For me personally it has meant I can have weekly lessons with my teacher in California, something I only dreamed of doing a few years back. Each week Pilates teachers from Canada, America, UK and Switzerland dial in for our weekly apparatus class, moving together and learning as we go.  This has been one of biggest positives to come out of the last couple of years.

Online Pilates Classes

Online classes make learning accessible and convenient. Online classes may suit you if you have a busy schedule with work, meetings, family life and your own interests. The sense of community is still there – this is important for those working long hours from home and older clients who look forward to a connection with others via movement. Online Pilates classes can flow more smoothly, the upside of the reduced interaction in the sessions does mean the exercises can flow from one to the other with more ease and grace than an in-person session. Another positive to online classes is that the style of learning suits some people very well – allowing individuals to learn at home where they feel at ease and learn at their own pace.  A few clients have reported that they felt more confident trying out new exercises and have a greater sense of achievement and wellbeing post class.

Without a doubt delivering online classes requires a different teaching skill set to teaching in-person. For online classes to work effectively the teacher really needs to know their clients and their needs well, the class content and way it is delivered needs to be carefully structured and planned before each class, the teacher must be clear with their instructions and ensure there is progression within each exercise series. Attention to detail, from an experienced teacher, is needed to help and assist clients during the class, therefore class numbers should be kept small. Ideally, a client who is new to Pilates should have a 1:1 lesson prior to starting the classes to ensure the teacher knows your body and goals before going online.  Online classes are here to stay, there is so much value to be taken from this environment but if you think your session will be easier, you may be in for a surprise – a good teacher will always support you to push things a little further!


In-Person Pilates Classes

The feedback and connection is enriched. In-person Pilates classes are great for those who have a bit more time, need some space from their home life, enjoy going out to practice in a dedicated studio space and want the tactile ‘hands on’ feedback from a teacher. Despite having a busy schedule many clients with young children enjoy coming into a calm and fully equipped space to just focus on themselves without any distractions from home life. Those who are retired enjoy the face to face and banter we have in class, or clients with specific injuries or needs are able to receive the attention they require. Due to heighted interaction and dialogue clients are able to gain a deeper sense of ‘am I doing this right?’ than online class – particularly useful for beginners and learning the fundamentals. An in-person class may suit someone who needs the motivation to turn up and show up each week, knowing the teacher is there ready to support them – even on days when they might feel like taking a day off. The sense of community is heighted in this setting as naturally clients meet others and chat before and after class, so it is a great way to meet like-minded people.

Best Of Both?

Recently, I am seeing more and more clients mix up their practice – some alternating between online sessions one week and an in-person class the next. This can work really well if you want the flexibility and benefits of both approaches. A client is able to work on their technique and form in one session, whilst the next they work on flow and strength. I have seen this kind of learning enhance clients’ practice in terms of alignment, strength, flexibility, posture and confidence in their own body. What’s not to like about that!

Whatever you decide to do, it’s recommended you start out with a 1:1 session first for the teacher to assess your needs and place you in the most suitable class.

At Body Balance Pilates we currently offer options to suit all needs: Zoom, in-person, hybrid classes, corporate classes plus 1:1 and 2:1 sessions on the apparatus – Reformer, Tower and Spine Corrector.

Get in touch to book your pilates class