Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi…aren’t they all basically the same? Easy workouts that make you a little more flexible?
Well, with so many exercise classes available, it’s easy to get lost in all the names. Pilates is a unique practice that does increase your flexibility, but it also does so much more.
If you’ve heard about Pilates and are keen to try a class, you’ll probably want to know what to expect and whether you’re ready for it. The good news is that it’s easy to find a Pilates for beginners class where each movement will be well-explained and demonstrated clearly.
Pilates has many benefits for the whole body, including improving posture, focusing the mind, and aiding your balance. It focuses on building core strength in a way that benefits your flexibility and whole-body movement.
With such well-rounded benefits, it’s not surprising that Pilates is becoming more and more popular. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the two types of Pilates and what you can expect from your first class.
Types of Pilates
There are typically two types of Pilates class: mat-based and reformer.
Mat-based classes involve long mats a little thicker than a standard yoga mat and use gravity as the resistance you’ll be moving against.
Reformer Pilates uses an apparatus that can look confusing at first! The reformer apparatus has a sliding platform that allows you to move back and forth. It also has resistance bands that give you controlled movements during your class.
Either form of pilates can also be a great way to stay strong and fit during pregnancy. Check out Pilates for pregnancy classes, or call up a beginner’s class to see if it’s suitable.
No matter which type of Pilates class you choose, your instructor will always explain exactly how to use any apparatus or your Pilates mat.
Some Pilates classes use a variety of different equipment aside from the reformer for their exercises and, if used, the instructor will guide you through how to work with them.
Common Pilates equipment includes:
- Magic circle ring
- Resistance bands
In a beginner’s mat-based lesson, equipment may not be used. This is so students can ease into Pilates and focus on their form. If you’d like to know what equipment to expect in advance, call up the Pilates studio to find out.
Your First Pilates Class
It can be a little nerve-wracking to walk into a new class and think that everyone else will know exactly what they’re doing. But remember, nobody was born knowing how to do Pilates!
A beginner’s class is the perfect starting place as it will cater to those who have never tried Pilates before as well as those returning to it. There’s no such thing as a stupid question in Pilates, so always ask if you’re not sure what to do. Your instructor is there to help and guide you.
What to Take
It’s best to wear body-hugging clothing to a Pilates class and to leave any loose clothing at home. There are a couple of reasons for this.
Firstly, tight but flexible clothing allows the instructor to see your movements clearly and adjust your position with ease. Loose clothing can obscure the position of your body. Love those leggings!
Secondly, you’ll be doing a lot of different movements including some with your legs above your body. Loose trousers will distract you and could get caught in the apparatus if you choose Reformer Pilates.
You won’t need shoes as Pilates is conducted with socks or bare feet. For mat-based classes, either is fine but if you choose reformer classes, socks work best. You can wear any socks but those with rubber grip on the soles are ideal to prevent slipping.
A bottle of water is the best companion to any exercise class and Pilates is no different. Take one with an easy-open top so you can take a swig whenever you fancy.
What to Expect
When you attend your first class, it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to your instructor before the class begins. You can ask them any questions you might have and, if you have any injuries, let them know so they can guide you into movements that are suited to you.
In all beginner’s classes, the instructor will explain how any equipment works and guide you through a gentle warm-up. Warm-ups usually consist of breathing exercises and easy stretches to get your muscles ready.
Each move will be explained and demonstrated by the instructor, so don’t worry if you have no idea which pilates moves are which. The instructor will correct you if you’re out of alignment and be on hand to answer any questions.
As Pilates is focused around core strengthening, you might feel it the next day. A little bit of aching is to be expected and the more Pilates you do, the stronger and more flexible you’ll become.
Why Pilates Is so Beneficial
Unlike many forms of exercise, Pilates is geared towards strengthening your core in conjunction with overall mental and physical well-being. Thanks to the adjustable nature of equipment like resistance bands, it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Pilates helps to improve joint mobility, flexibility, and can even offer relief from chronic lower back pain. The practice aims to connect the mind and body, making you more aware of your movements throughout your day. In a world where we’re always running from one thing to the next, Pilates can help you stay present and mindful of your physicality.
Give Pilates a Go and Reap the Rewards
The idea of working up a sweat in the gym might make you want to run in the other direction, but classes like Pilates are utterly different. Through this whole-body practice, you’ll gain physical as well as mental benefits and help to keep your body moving as it’s designed to.
We tend to live sedentary lives, but through Pilates movements you can re-energize your body and stay mobile. Check out our online classes for beginner workouts and browse our blog for more information about keeping healthy and strong!