Signing up for your first Pilates class can feel very daunting, more so if you don’t know much about the practice. From the outside looking in, Pilates can seem complicated – especially when seeing all the complex-looking equipment and contraptions! However, Pilates is a renowned form of exercise that can improve your core strength, give you greater balance and even provide mental health benefits.
If you are preparing for your first Pilates class and aren’t sure what to expect, we’ve covered the basics below!
What is Pilates?
First things first – what is Pilates?
Pilates was developed by the physical trainer Joseph Pilates, from whom the practice takes its name, and was originally intended to improve one’s strength and core in an effort to fight illnesses or injury. The idea was very close to home as Joseph Pilates himself was a sickly young man before developing his theory and exercise method further.
The Pilates practice has become popular since its introduction in the 1920s and is practiced all around the world today. It is a form of low-impact exercise that works your body and aims to strengthen your muscles and core while also improving flexibility and balance. Unlike many exercises, Pilates requires you to move slowly and precisely while making use of proper breathing.
Pilates has six principles that should be followed to maximise results:
Different Types of Pilates Classes
There are two different types of Pilates classes, though the principles and foundations of the exercise remain the same regardless of which you may do. These classes are the mat and reformer classes.
A mat class requires nothing more than you, a mat and your instructor. These classes are simple and make use of your body’s weight and gravity in order to work your muscles.
A reformer class makes use of modern versions of the equipment Joseph Pilates designed a hundred years ago and provides a more challenging workout. In addition to your own body weight and gravity, you will also have the resistance of the equipment to incorporate into your workout.
The basis of Pilates is a focus on the muscles that support the skeleton, and in particular, those that support the spine. Working your core muscles will undoubtedly lead to better posture, decreased back pain or aches, improved blood flow and circulation, and a decreased chance of injury – as well as improved overall physical and mental health!
Now that you know what Pilates is and how it started, are you ready to prepare for your first Pilates class?
What Should You Wear?
The type of clothing you wear to your Pilates class can make a big difference to the effectiveness and quality of your workout. While it may seem best to just wear what is most comfortable, there are some clothing preferences that can definitely make your workout easier.
Your clothing should fit well while still being able to stretch and move as you do. Loose or baggy clothing is not recommended as this can get in your way and potentially get caught in your reformer class equipment. Baggy or loose clothing can also prevent your instructor from noticing when or if your poses are incorrect, as well as from checking whether your bones are properly aligned to engage the muscles during a pose. This type of clothing is also not recommended because some poses in a Pilates class will cause loose-fitting clothing to ride up.
Footwear is not usually required in a Pilates class, but there are socks that are specially designed for Pilates that can greatly improve your workout. Going barefoot is fine too!
Ensure that any loose or jangling accessories and jewellery are removed before you start your Pilates class. Wear a subtle antiperspirant, though Pilates isn’t a typically sweaty workout!
What Should You Bring?
You can bring your own mat to your Pilates class, as many people prefer to use their own mats. Pilates mats are different to yoga mats as they are thicker and provide more cushioning for certain Pilates poses. If you are going to bring your own mat, make sure it is thick enough to support you during your Pilates class!
Water is essential as you should always stay hydrated, so bring along a water bottle!
What is a Session Like?
Your first Pilates class will mostly revolve around learning: you will need to learn the correct breathing techniques, how to find and engage your core, and the correct alignment of your spine. Your instructor may also teach you a few basic poses so that you can practice the core foundations of a Pilates workout.
It is also very important for your instructor to know about your physical health. This includes any history of injuries, muscle pain or any other physical issues there may be. This knowledge will help your instructor ensure that the poses you do during your Pilates class will serve to improve these issues, while working your muscles and engaging your core, and develop the right programme for you.
Signing Up for Your First Pilates Class
Pilates is a well-developed exercise system that can help people of all ages become stronger and healthier. It is designed to work almost all of your body, leading to greater overall strength, posture, alignment and balance.
Now that you know what to expect from your first Pilates class, it’s time to sign up and get started!