Moving On Up!
You'll come to a point in your Pilates practice when you're thinking of moving into the next group class level. Great! There are some things to consider, but often if you're thinking it, then it means you're ready for change.
We encourage everyone to take ownership of their Pilates workout. We want you to 'learn' Pilates, not just do it! This will make you more 'present' in your class, more mindful of your movement and more in control of your Pilates progression. Here's some thing's to ask yourself:
Do you know the choreography of the level you're in?
Step one is knowing the movements. When you move up to the next level it will be assumed you know the movements from the previous level. The teacher will of course still teach you, but when moving into a Beyond Basics Reformer class, for example, expect to hear 'let's start with Footwork' (assumption being you set up your necessary springs and start in your Pilates V on toes). Same for any of the other 'Basics' movements. Then there will be a more detailed set up and guide into the new exercises of the level you're in.
Are you in control?
Pilates was originally called 'Contrology'. If you're not in control, you're not doing Pilates. If you move up levels before getting to grips with the basics of how to mindfully get from one place to the next you could hurt yourself as the pace and challenge increases.
Do you know your specific needs?
In Basic level classes your teacher in The Hundred, for example, will give you various options of how to modify the exercise - different leg heights, perhaps a support under your shoulders. In the next level you might just hear 'Curl into the hundred to a position that works best for you'. If the teacher sees you in a dangerous position they'll come and assist, of course, but you'll progress so much faster if you can start to take these cues on board and only do what feels good for you. If you know you'll need to use a prop or modification - use it - you don't need to wait for the teacher to tell you.
Are you in pain?
If you're doing your class and are in pain doing any of it we wouldn't recommend moving up levels. Do however book some private sessions so the teacher can help you figure out what's going on and if getting more challenge is what you're looking for they'll teach you how to get that without causing strain or pain.
Have you tried different classes?
Pilates is a system - all of the different apparatus will support you in different ways. Someone will say 'am I ready to move up to Beyond the Basics Reformer?'. My response often will be 'I say yes if you can do a good Roll Up on the mat'. (Yes you need to do Mat!). You'll have less support from the Reformer as you go up levels so learning the Basic Matwork exercises will give you the strength to get to the next level. Want to move up Matwork levels but can't do the Roll Up on mat? You need Tower! You'll have a fixed mat but also the support of a spring to get you through your stuck parts. Lot's of the movements in Basics/Beyond Tower class are more supported versions of movements you see in Beyond Basics and Intermediate Matwork and Reformer classes. The different classes will challenge you in different ways to get you strong and flexible enough for the next level.
None of the above is expected to be perfect by the way. Don't be waiting for perfect 'picture book' execution of the movements. If you're feeling that you know the moves, know what you're aiming to get out of them and are in control - MOVE ON UP! If you only do one type of class and don't feel ready to move up but still want a different challenge - try a different class at the same level. If you're just nervous - do a private! You can always ask your teacher for advise after your class as well.