Getting ready for your first Pilates class can be an exciting and daunting experience. The benefits of Pilates speak for themselves, and with regular practise, these benefits are easily within your grasp. One thing is sure that you will love this heart pumping full body workout.
What Is The Pilates Method?
Pilates was invented around the time of the first world war by Joseph Pilates who wanted to create a minimal equipment exercise program that used the mind to control the body consciously.
Pilates is a complete full body workout that uses resistance training, alignment and holistic awareness to strengthen the body. Using the breath, spine and the core muscles to empower the practice and promote wellness in the body.
The results of practising Pilates are incredible, some of which include body awareness, body sculpting, high energy, improved flexibility, fat burning, improved Posture, strengthened mind and body connection. These benefits are available for Pilates beginners, intermediate or advanced practitioners. No matter what your background, fitness level or style of Pilates you choose to practise, huge benefits await you.
What You Need To Start
When planning your first Pilates workout, it is essential to make sure that you are fully equipped and ready to learn. As a new student, you will need a few things to get started. Some of the things are necessary, and some of the items are encouraged. But generally, there is almost no Pilates equipment needed as studios provide all essential apparatus.
- You must have an open mind and be ready to learn. To really learn something new we must leave our preconceptions at the door and open ourselves up mentally and physically to make some new changes in our lives. This means leaving habits like bad posture, laziness, self-judgment and know-it-all-ness outside.
- Money to pay the Pilates teacher for the class
- You need a good Pilates mat or a yoga mat to support you when doing Pilates exercises. This serves to support you during your practise, helping you to keep your balance, providing resistance and cushioning your body from the hard floor. A good yoga mat is at least 6mm thick (the thicker it is, the more padding) and is highly resistant to slipping. Very important for a Pilates mat class.
- Wearing comfortable clothing is also very important while practising. Your fitness wear should give you the opportunity to move freely with the full range of motion. While being supportive and wicking away sweat from your body. A simple t-shirt with leggings is very acceptable, but if you can invest in some stretchy sweat-wicking gym clothing, you will be thankful later.
- Choose stretchy breathable fabrics for your work out
- Try to select simple form-fitting clothing over baggy fitness outfits. To teach you well the Pilates teacher will need to see your body to be sure about your alignment.
- You don’t need trainers, Pilates is done barefoot
- Don’t use anything that has adornments such as drawstrings, belts, tassels, buckles, ties or buttons as they may be uncomfortable if you lie on top of them and they also damage equipment.
- Don’t wear shorts if you can help it, as many positions require you to be upside down and you don’t want them to ride up or expose you.
- With most Pilates sessions being around an hour to 90 minutes long you will need to rehydrate. Nothing does this better than a good drink of water. Make sure to bring a litre of water to sip throughout the lesson. Keeping your body hydrated and flushing the toxins from your body is a key part of reaping the benefits of Pilates quickly. If you can invest in a refillable water bottle, you will also be helping the environment.
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- Resistance bands are great if you have limited mobility in some parts of your body. They are stretchy bands that can support your flexibility and they can also add strength training to the workout.
- A cushion is a perfect accompaniment for those who have any issues with alignment. It can be used to support any part of your body while practising, lying down or working with on the floor postures. A cushion can also support your alignment when you need to sit in class.
Pilates Class Etiquette
An important part of taking any group fitness class is knowing just how to behave to ensure you are not hindering anyone else’s progress. A few simple rules will ensure you get the maximum out of the class and support your fellow
Pilates practitioner Etiquette List.
- Always be aware of attending on time
- Warm up before class to avoid any injuries.
- Tell the Pilates instructor about any existing injuries
- Don’t chat in class, remain present and focused.
- If it hurts stop immediately, safely come out of the pose and raise your hand for some help.
- Tie your hair back off your face
- Bring a towel to wipe down any shared surfaces and equipment
Before The Pilates Class
Before you attend your class make sure you know which kind of class it is that you have signed up for. If you attend a Pilates Mat class then you will need to bring your yoga mat with you but if you if you are going to be using the Pilates reformer machine then you may only need to take yourself and a bottle of water. To ensure you don’t get any surprises, just be aware of what class you are attending.
Remember that Pilates isn’t going to tire your muscles in the same way that a similar aerobic, cardio or high-intensity workout would. It is focused primarily on working your muscles and core strength in a precise and controlled way, your breath becomes the rhythm of the movement. You will be encouraged to be present and aware of yourself for precision in your poses and mindful practise.
Don’t book yourself in for daily classes until you have tried your first class.
In The Pilates Class
Make sure to arrive at the studio on time, the Pilates instructor will likely be there a few minutes early. It is a great time to introduce yourself and let them know that you are a beginner and of any injuries or restrictions that you may have during the session. This is important so that the teacher can watch over you and give you additional help during the class. Also so that she can provide you with any modifications should they be needed.
When you enter the class as a beginner take a place in the second row rather than the first, often more experienced students sit in the front. Sitting a bit further back gives you additional people to model during the practise. Try not to be too worried in your first class about getting it perfect, just be very observant and do your best. The Pilates teacher will likely come to support you if they notice you need additional help with your alignment.
As you progress through the class, you are going to become aware of your body and muscles. Although you are moving with a slow, purposeful precision in the session, you will often feel your muscles burning. This is a good thing. As long as you are not in actual pain, you should try to resist stopping and complete the set for maximum results.
After The Pilates Class
Immediately after class make sure rehydrate properly, even if you feel you didn’t sweat that much your body would have lost a lot of water and vital nutrients during your practise. Replenishing these lost nutrients and water will help your body to recover and repair.
In the following few days after the Pilates class, you are likely to feel a little bit sore. This is normal and happens when the muscles have been worked hard in new ways, and they are responding to that workout. Despite how your body feels, practising Pilates regularly will move you towards your fitness goals and to a more balanced body. Although your body will need a few days to recover, you should book your next class right away so that you don’t lose momentum.
Changes That You May Notice From Regular Pilate Training
Regular Pilates sessions can make you feel top notch, here are a few of the improvements that you can expect.
- A stronger whole body
- New muscle groups that you didn’t know existed
- Reduced body weight
- Better concentration
- Defined muscle tone
- Improved stamina
- A lifted booty
- Feeling more energized
- Speed up your metabolic rate and burn fat
- Minimise stress and anxiety
Pilates is a lifelong practise that has no limits as to what you can achieve, it can even complement other forms of exercise. It is a well-developed training program with teachers who follow a very regimented Pilates teacher training program to become qualified to teach.
Therefore you can guarantee that the quality of any class that you choose will be of a high standard and reward you with the best benefits. I hope that this list will help you to keep your eye on your personal goals and keep you motivated to keep going. Pilates is such a useful method, and when paired with a proper diet you will notice and feel the health benefits from head to toe.