Pilates: What level am I? Take the quiz: True or False


What level class should I be taking?

We get this question all the time, both from new students and those looking to move quickly up the ladder to “advanced” status.

First, what is a "level" anyway?

Each one of the 500+ pilates exercises are each assigned a level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) by the respected schools of pilates.  This is one of the reasons instructor certification is so important: a good teacher will know how to progress students from beginner and intermediate skills (level 1/2), to more advanced skills (level 2/3).  Logically, this is designed to keep you safe and free from injury!  Unfortunately, too many studios bypass safety for the sake of filling their classes, throwing all levels of student into the same class. Yikes!

So, with the hundreds of pilates exercises that are available, how do you know what level class will be the best fit for you?

To get the answer, read below to check if you are falling into these common misconceptions:

1. FALSE: Level 1/2 is “remedial”.

TRUE: Pilates, when it’s done in great form, should be challenging no matter the level of exercise.  In fact, the hallmark of an advanced student is the ability to challenge oneself in any class.  This means taking charge of your own training vs. relying on the teacher to get you going.  Advanced students have the experience to slow down and FEEL each exercise in order to get a great workout.  Test this one out for yourself.  Truly if you are not feeling the burn in level 1/2, consider taking a few more of these classes.

This is one of my favorite quotes, and it perfectly sums up our philosophy:

“An exercise is not advanced because it is a difficult trick, an exercise is advanced when the student brings an advanced mind to the activity.” Pat Guyton

2. FALSE: Level 2/3 is just a “harder” workout:

TRUE: A level 2/3 class is characterized by more advanced SKILLS.  See if you recognize some of these exercises by name.  If not, or if you wouldn’t consider doing them, you may not be at this level just yet:

Teaser, snake, tendon stretch, pike, arabesque, long back stretch, control balance, backstroke

BIGGER skills require you to be very, very good at the foundational movements.

How many of these foundational skills do you have?

1.       A strong “plank”.  This requires a strong core, solid wrist strength, and the ability to hold proper form for at least ONE minute. (long stretch, up stretch, arabesque)

2.       Neck and abdominal strength to hold your head up against gravity in a sit-up position for an extended period of time (without getting injured!).  NO cutting corners here, it takes time. (backstroke, teaser)

3.       A good lunge!  If a lunge on the floor is challenging for you, it will be much more difficult on the unstable surface of the reformer.  You should be comfortable with your balance while standing atop the reformer. (Russian splits, pike, tendon stretch “gymnast”)

Keep working, and be honest with yourself.  You are your own best advocate: Are you risking injury to be perceived as more advanced than you are at this point?  Remember, it is not a race.  And if it was, the tortoise would surely win.