Everything You Need To Know About Pilates

From Erika Bloom, Pilates Expert and Founder of Erika Bloom Pilates.

One of the main reasons I love Pilates is because it’s always a challenging workout and is perfect for women, men, the young and the old, the injured and the healthy. Pilates might seem intimidating at first, but take a beginner’s class for your first time and you’ll find that with a properly trained instructor, the class is both physically and mentally challenging as well as fun. Read below for all the intel you need to know before your first class….

1) You don’t have to be flexible to take a Pilates class. Pilates is for everyone and can be adjusted accordingly.

2) You’ll benefit more from moving slowly, with precision and control, than by powering through and speeding up. Perform the movements as though you are moving through peanut butter.

3) Your teacher will cue small adjustments to your form and positions which are super important. Remember that they are small, smaller than you might be used to moving in other classes, but it’s important to be precise to achieve maximum results.

4) Choose a class that is taught by an instructor with a full 500+ hour mat and apparatus certification. Even if it’s just a mat class, you want someone who is trained in the full Pilates repertoire and who has learned the protocols for injuries and conditions.

5) If you have injuries or specific concerns or goals, tell the teacher before class. During the class, if something doesn’t feel right, hurts, or is confusing, ask your instructor. A well-trained Pilates instructor can give you modifications and cues to make the exercise as beneficial to you as possible, even in a group class setting.

6) It’s okay if you don’t sweat. Because you’re moving slowly and focusing on small muscle groups, you can get amazing benefits from Pilates without ever breaking a sweat. One perk of Pilates is that it’s an easy workout to slip into your day sans shower.

7) It’s okay if you don’t ‘feel the burn.’ Many of the exercises you’ll do target small muscle groups that support and improve posture and create a long, lean physique. These small muscles probably won’t feel as intense as you may expect. Additionally, in Pilates, we often don’t work muscles to exhaustion. This is because we want to be able to continually recruit these muscles to support form throughout the class and continuing on into your day.

8) Stay focused at the beginning when the teacher is explaining how to breathe. Learning and practicing proper diaphragmatic breathing is, possibly, the most important part of Pilates. By finding that breath you calm the nervous system and activate and align the core, which can benefit your overall health and wellness.

9) The quality of your breath is more important than the timing. New students always ask, “Should I be exhaling or inhaling on this part?” But for your first class, focus on continuously breathing and achieving proper diaphragmatic breath.

10) Don’t wear running pants with zippers or pockets on the back. You’ll be doing tilting and rolling motions with your pelvis and zippers can get in the way. Also, I recommend wearing seamless sports bras/tanks so when you are doing moves on your back, the straps/adjusters don’t dig into you, causing discomfort.

11) The class will get both easier and harder each time you take it. Your first class is about learning the basics. As you get deeper in your connections and have more correct form, you’ll be able to do advanced methods, but you’ll also feel the basic stuff even more. Keep it up!

Want more from Erika? Check out this guide to anti-inflammatory foods here, then read her guide to becoming a morning workout person.