The Every Person's Guide to Pilates

Hannah Prince · Nov 13 2016

Pilates refers to a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture, and mental awareness. Though it may look simplistic, the moves in a pilates workout require a lot of core strength in addition to precision and control. Whether you’re a beginner, a teacher, or completely new to Pilates - our guest contributor Evgenia is here with a few tips on how to make the most of your Pilates class.

1. Be There

Yes, it may seem simple, but there are so many times that people avoid classes or private sessions. Especially those who have never done Pilates before.

It can feel intimidating to try something new and the fast-paced demand of life takes over leaving no time for sessions. Find time, make time.

2. Be on Time

Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram
Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram

It is very important to come to your class or session on time, especially if you are new. Some studios will not let you into a class after ten or fifteen minutes, because it is not safe at this point.

Pilates is a series of exercises where each movement prepares you for the next, so if you miss the beginning, you may get injured by jumping in late, especially if this is your first time. You want to have time to settle in, meet the teacher, and start from the beginning.

3. Wear Comfortable Clothes

For Pilates, it is better to wear clothes that are not too baggy but do not constrict your movements. Pilates moves are both strengthening and stretching, and you don’t want to restrict the best possible stretch or your biggest range of motion. Try to avoid zippers and buttons, because they will dig into your body, and may damage the Pilates (very expensive) equipment.

4. Listen 

Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram
Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram

In Pilates, the mind-body connection is very important. In our busy world, it is very hard to stay focused, let alone connect your mind to what is going on in your body. This is why it is important to listen.

Listen to your teacher, they are giving you directions and cues to help you move in a safe and effective manner. Listen to your body, it will send you signals if something is not good for you, or where you have issues connecting. Stay aware, and you’ll be on the right track to the strong and lean Pilates body.

5. Speak Up

As important it is to listen, it is just as important to speak up. Be sure to tell your teacher of any injuries or pains you have. Also, make sure to say something if you are pregnant because the teaching protocol for a pregnant body is different than that of regular Pilates.

Remember, your teacher has no way of feeling what you are feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, say so.

6. Keep an Open Mind

Maybe you have been doing Pilates for years, or maybe this is your first time ever. Whatever the case, remember to keep an open mind. Maybe your other teacher at another studio had a different way of teaching or a different way of delivering information.

Maybe your other fitness activities seem very far from Pilates, and it’s frustrating that you are learning something new. Don’t brush your class or session off, instead see if you can learn something new. If you have been practicing for many years, you can still learn something new.

7. Be Kind to Yourself

Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram
Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram

In our society, physical appearance is talked about and judged a lot and it’s impossible to reach perfection. So what? Perfection is boring! Be happy with what you have, and strive to be the best version of you.

If you don’t feel strong, don’t bash yourself for it, instead keep doing what you are doing, and you *will* get stronger and more flexible.

8. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

If you are in a class setting, do not compare yourself to those around you. Somebody may seem stronger, more flexible, leaner, but you don’t know what inner battles they are fighting, or what it cost them to get to that point. Focus on yourself, focus on your progress, and focus on making your strengths stronger, and turning your weaknesses into strengths.

I won’t lie, there are times I want to cry out of frustration because some Pilates exercises are difficult for me. Yet some things are naturally easier for me than for some other people. This is why it’s important to fight your own battle, and not waste your energy on comparing yourself to those around you.

9. Have a Good Time

Even though Pilates is fitness, it can be and should be fun. Enjoy yourself, play with the method, do your best, and don’t forget to smile!

Fun fact: Pilates is named after its inventor, Joseph Pilates, who invented it as a way for injured soldiers to exercise. Many of the moves are inspired by animals like swans, seals and big cats!