One of the most famous of Joseph Pilates' quotes is this: "In 10 sessions you'll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you'll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you'll have a whole new body". Many pilates studios use this quote and for obvious reasons- if you're promised a whole new body in 30 sessions, why not? It sounds amazing. Sign me up! But here's the catch- while it IS possible to have a whole new body in 30 sessions, that entirely depends on your level of commitment, both financially and mentally. People coming to pilates once or twice a week are probably not going to have a whole new body in 30 sessions. When people were coming to see Joseph Pilates they weren't coming in once a week- they were coming in 3 to 4 times a week. And they were studying with the master who demanded their focus and their strict adherence to his ideals. There were no group classes, no variations on the original exercises- there was only him, and he also expected that they would continue their practice at home, on their own time.
I have never used this quote myself because I have felt that it creates unrealistic expectations for most people- yet that being said just yesterday I had a private client tell me (completely unsolicited) that in 20 sessions she could see the difference. And so could I! Her transformation has been wonderful, and she is in her late 50's- so it can be done at any time in life. However her commitment level is just as wonderful- She has been coming 3 times a week, and working with me and two of my other teachers privately. During her sessions her focus is absolute. She listens to what we are asking of her, and even when she feels that she's not quite getting it she'll stay with the exercise. Another one of my private clients whose transformation has been just as wonderful also worked with me 3 times a week privately until we determined that he understood the exercises well enough to transition to groups twice a week, and he continues to see me privately once a week. Just yesterday we were working on a new exercise that was challenging for him- and when we finished he said "I'll get it next time!". And I love that attitude- he doesn't get discouraged, and he is committed to improving his practice. And he has reaped the benefits- when he first came to me he had recently been hospitalized for back pain, and although he wasn't overweight by any means in the time that he's been at the studio he's lost 15 pounds and looks amazing- but best of all, no back pain. He had worried that he would be saddled with this pain forever- and he was skeptical about pilates when he first came to me. But he stuck with it, and in 30 sessions he truly had a whole new body.
So I do believe in Joseph Pilates quote, because I have seen it manifested. And yet, we are all individuals with different bodies, different needs, different schedules, and different financial means. Not all of us need a new body, and not all of us have the same standards for what a "whole new body" should be. Is it a pain-free body? Is it a body with a 6 pack? Is it a body that is more flexible, with a calmer mind? Because some of these things can absolutely be achieved in 30 sessions whether they are done once a week or 4 times a week- but some of them may require more time, energy and commitment, both inside the studio and out.
The beautiful thing is that no matter how you use pilates- whether as your sole exercise method, or as an adjunct to your other activities- you will see, feel and experience the difference, whether you come to group classes once a week, or take privates 3 times a week. Because pilates doesn't stay in the studio- you take it with you when you leave, in your posture, in your breathing, in your awareness of your body. My point is, don't get hung up on the whole new body in 30 sessions. If that's what you desire and what you need and you have the means to achieve it, then by all means- go for it! But what I have found in my studio is that no matter how often you do pilates, as long as you do it regularly, you will see the benefits- from your very first session to your umpteenth group class.