By Jessica Schmidley
You've decided to start Pilates! The good news is, you are absolutely ready for this journey, just as you are. Wherever your body is at this moment, is exactly where you need to be to start Pilates.
A common misconception is that you need to “get in shape” before starting a Pilates practice, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The exercises and concepts range from beginner to super-advanced, and your instructor will help you assess and navigate your practice. The Pilates method is meant to meet you where you are, right now. You are ready for this!
Whether you haven't worked out a day in your life, or you are a professional athlete...everyone has a Day 1. Everyone starts at a different place, but Pilates is truly for EVERY BODY. Get excited!
So how do you prepare for your first Pilates session? Once you have chosen a studio, here are 3 things to consider before you get on that Mat (or Reformer, or Cadillac...) for the first time.
1. What to wear:
First off, you don't have to go spend all your savings at Lululemon to do Pilates (although we all do love any excuse to grab some new workout gear)!
The most important factor to consider is your comfort level. Everyone has different preferences, so let that be your first guide. Your clothing mustn't be skintight and made of spandex, but overly loose and flowy clothing may get in your way and move around too much as you navigate your practice.
You are moving about on equipment with springs and wheels attached to it. Long hair should be pulled back and out of harm's way.
In general, shoes are not worn in Pilates classes, unless you have a medical condition that requires it. Check with your studio's policies on proper footwear, some will require the use of socks and others may allow bare feet. Socks should have some type of rubber grip on the bottom to prevent slipping and sliding while performing exercises. This is for your safety.
Here's a list of our favorites:
2. What to eat/drink before:
Just like any workout, you wouldn't want to walk in with a full stomach and bladder. Keep this in mind as you approach the start time of your class. Depending on what time of day you come to the studio, you may have one or more meals in your system. I typically recommend eating no sooner than 90 minutes before your workout, so food has a chance to get out of your stomach and move a little further into your digestive tract.
If you are an early riser, try to have something light with a higher carbohydrate concentration... some fresh or dried fruit, toast, or part of a granola bar. Carbohydrates are easier to digest and will give you energy, but won't take as long to process as protein and fat. Avoid spicy, acidic foods especially if you tend to get heartburn when laying down.
I personally love to have a little coffee in the morning, especially before a workout. It helps me get a little spring in my step so I'm ready to move and focus. Make sure you are sipping water throughout the day, to stay hydrated and prevent muscle cramps during exercise. Just allow a little time when you get to the studio to empty your bladder before all the abdominal work!
Do not partake in alcoholic beverages, recreational or prescription drugs that may impair you. You will be working on highly specialized equipment that can be potentially dangerous. Our job is to keep you safe above all else during your workouts.
3. Keep an open mind:
You may think you know what Pilates is about, you may have even done Pilates at another studio or gym before, but keep an open mind that first time you walk in the studio.
Your first session will likely consist of filling out intake forms, a brief chat with your instructor to go over pre-existing conditions, injuries, surgeries, or issues going on in your body. Next, you'll have an introduction to the equipment you'll be using and probably fundamental exercises to set the groundwork for a successful practice. Whether you are new or an experienced exerciser, everyone needs fundamental work. It is the foundation to upon which your entire practice is built upon, and it's likely that you'll spend a good portion of your first sessions focusing on.
Pilates is like no other workout, and no two Pilates instructors teach the same way. You'll be working your body in ways that may feel foreign and engaging muscles that you may not realize you had! So, it's important to just dive in with an open mind and go with it! Communicate with your instructor if you are feeling any pain, discomfort, or confusion with the work.
Leave any preconceived notions you may have about Pilates or your ability level at the door. The beauty of the Pilates method is that it is completely customizable, and can be adjusted based on what your body needs and where it thrives. Everyone is strong in their own way, and EVERY BODY can do Pilates.