The effectiveness of Pilates depends on the quality of the teaching and therefore the instructor.
When you look for a Pilates teacher, the options are dizzying because the trademark has expired and anyone can say they teach Pilates. So, for starters, look for a teacher with a lot of experience. Also look for one who really starts slowly so you can learn the proper way to do the exercises – this can’t be done quickly, and requires a lot of attention from the teacher as well as from you. If you don’t feel like you’re getting that, look elsewhere, and if the teacher says, “go for the burn,” head for the hills.
Some Pilates teachers emphasize holding your torso and hips very still – they call it “the Box,” and believe it shouldn’t move. That’s not core support, that’s rigidity. Find a teacher who can help you feel very deep muscle action without stiffening up your whole body, so you feel supported yet free to move.
Other teachers emphasize working with your lower back flattened to the floor – something Joseph Pilates himself taught but current scientific understanding of the spine tells us is unhealthy. Find a teacher who helps you find and use a “neutral spine,” preserving the natural curve of your lower back.
And, most important of all, find a teacher who can truly take your needs into account, whose sessions make you feel great both during and afterwards, and whom you really like to work with.