For many years, the Pilates community has been divided on the subject of incorporating music into classes. A well-known Pilates organisation in the USA even goes as far as prohibiting the use of music during presentations at their conventions. The prevailing belief is that the breath should serve as the primary cue for movement. However, as someone who has been on a long Pilates journey and also has a background in group exercise, I'd like to present a different perspective. I believe that music can serve as a powerful tool for both the teacher and the students, enhancing focus and creating a conducive atmosphere for practice.
The Traditional View: Breath as the Cue The traditionalist view in Pilates holds that the breath is the ultimate guide for movement. The inhale and exhale are intricately tied to each phase of every exercise, serving as natural cues. This approach has its merits, offering a form of mindfulness that aligns the body and mind. However, it's worth considering that this isn't the only way to achieve a state of focus and flow in a Pilates class.
The Case for Music Creating Atmosphere Music has the power to instantly change the atmosphere of a room. It can make a space feel calm, energetic, or even meditative. In a Pilates class, the right kind of music can help students transition from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives into a more focused state of mind.
Enhancing Focus Contrary to the belief that music can be distracting, I've found that the right kind of music can actually enhance focus. It can serve as a rhythmic guide for movements, much like the breath, but with the added benefit of setting a tempo that can help students synchronise their movements more effectively.
Emotional Resonance Music has the ability to resonate emotionally, providing an additional layer of experience to the physical practice of Pilates. This emotional connection can make the practice more fulfilling and can even serve as a motivator.
Choosing the Right Music Of course, not all music is suitable for a Pilates class. It's advisable to avoid music with lyrics, as they can be distracting. Similarly, classical music with dramatic fluctuations in volume and tempo may not be the best choice. The key is to find music that complements your teaching style and the flow of your class.
Conclusion: Finding Your Own Style In Pilates, as in life, it's important to find your own style and beliefs. If you find that music enhances your classes and benefits your students, don't be afraid to go against the grain. After all, the ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience for your students, and if music helps you achieve that, then it deserves a place in your studio. So, fellow Pilates teachers, I encourage you to experiment and find what works best for you and your students. The world of Pilates is rich and diverse, and there's room for all of us to bring our unique contributions to it.
Michael King, Founder and Director, Michael King Pilates (MK Pilates)