You’ve done your research and found your Pilates studio and instructor. You're ready to take your first class but aren't sure which one to start with. Here are some things to consider before you sign up.
MAT OR EQUIPMENT CLASS?
Pilates exercises are performed on the mat and on equipment. The classical (“traditional”) exercises are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced exercises.
There are traditionally 34 Pilates mat exercises but many ways to modify them for your fitness needs and body type.
There are also 100’s of variations for each piece of Pilates equipment (Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, Barrel or Spine Corrector as well as additional tools/props).
Keep in mind as you join classes that not every piece of equipment is appropriate for everyone all of the time.
Investing in an experienced instructor will not only help you build a strong foundation but teach you how to modify the exercises and guide you to the right equipment for your current fitness level.
When I started Pilates, I was rehabbing from a back injury so I spent a lot of time on the Barrel and Cadillac. As I healed, I added more exercises on the Reformer which requires more stability.
Ideally you'll learn both the mat and equipment exercises. Once you know the mat work, it can supplement your equipment workouts.
In order to prevent injury, you should always be encouraged to master beginner exercises before moving onto intermediate or advanced levels no matter your fitness level. Every exercise builds on itself.
Aim for 2-3 workouts a week when starting out.
You’re going to hear some common cues when you are taking a Pilates class. Let’s decode some of them.
Pilates Common Cues to Master
Stop and regroup if you lose your form during your workout. Watch that you’re moving symmetrically. Keep your hips and shoulders even. Make sure you’re not:
I know. It’s a lot to think about. That’s why Pilates is mind body exercise.
You have to be mindful while you do the movements otherwise you're just going through the motions and won’t see or feel changes in your body. The more you practice, the easier it is to focus on your form.
I recommend you learn to do a head to toe mental checklist while performing each exercise. I actually start at the feet and work my way up to the head during each movement to check that I’m in the correct position. Download this VIDEO to get the sequence I use.
Pilates is about quality not quantity. Low reps with good form and a variety of movements will make up a good workout session.
When you can coordinate your breath with the movement, you’ve most likely mastered that particular exercise. It’s the more challenging aspect of Pilates but also the most healing. The breath work is calming for your nervous system and gets your circulation going which helps keep your tissue healthy and release toxins.
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- Joseph Pilates
Pilates is an excellent form of exercise to build a strong foundation and a more balanced body but what you do outside the studio can have a bigger impact on your overall posture and performance.
Want to truly transform your body and take Pilates concepts and cues into your day, gym workouts, or running?
Download this free video on the HEAD TO TOE POSTURE CHECKLIST that I made to help you reset your posture (and identify some of your tight spots) throughout your daily activities.
P.S. Don't forget to share the HEAD TO TOE POSTURE CHECKLIST video download with your exercise buddies.
Mollie Miller, PT