The Every Person’s Guide to Pilates

Evgenia Ilienko · Nov 13 2016

Pilates refers to a system of exercises designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture, and mental awareness. Though it may look simple, the moves take a lot of precision and control. Whether you’re a Pilates newbie, a Pilates teacher, or have never done Pilates in your life- 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 flake on their classes or private sessions. Especially those who have never done Pilates. They feel intimidated to try something new, or that maybe the teacher will judge them. Even those who regularly practice Pilates have life take over sometimes and leave 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 inured 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 which are not too baggy but do not constrict your movements. Pilates is 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. There is a reason why #leggingsarepants, and this is your excuse to wear athleisure clothes day and night. My favorite clothes are from Lululemon, and I love how buttery soft Beyond Yoga leggings are.

4.) Listen

Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram

Via @KouklaWellness on Instagram

In Pilates, the mind-body connection is very important. In our busy, 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. If you don’t understand something, say something too! Everybody has different ways of learning, and by communicating you are giving yourself a better chance of having a better workout, and for your teacher to get to know you better.

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!