The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Pilates

22nd September 2016

The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Pilates
Many people find starting something new to be overwhelming and scary. There is no reason to be afraid! This beginners guide to Pilates is designed to ease you into your first class and the Pilates lifestyle.

Want to know the difference between a reformers and a mat class? Then this is the guide for you!

What is Pilates?

Pilates was developed in the 1920's by Joseph Pilates, he called this early form 'contrology'. Pilates has developed significantly over the years, it is now one of the most popular forms of exercise in the UK. Pilates is used by a number of athletes, celebrities and anybody else looking to tighten up their tummies!

Pilates is designed to prevent muscular imbalances and strengthen the body, with a particular focus on core strength and aiming to improve general fitness. As well as developing core strength, Pilates focuses on muscular endurance, flexibility, posture, co-ordination and balance. Pilates is a low impact form of exercise which focuses on form and controlled movement.

Who is Pilates For?

There are various forms of Pilates suitable for all levels of ability and ages, from complete novices to experienced athletes. The various apparatus that are used have been designed to add resistance for people looking to challenge themselves and provide support for those who need it.

Pilates is very beneficial for participants recovering from injury, this is due to it's focus on form and control rather than dynamic movements. If you're undertaking Pilates as a form of injury rehabilitation, make sure you have spoken to your doctor and your class teacher is aware! Pilates can be tailored towards any age group, with classes being available for younger people right the way through to over 70's classes and even mothers and babies

What do I need for my first Pilates Class?

It is unlikely that you'll have to bring equipment with you, the studio will usually provide all of the equipment. Having said this, many people prefer to work off their own mat and these can be found online for a small cost. It is important to remain hydrated so it is also advisable to bring a drink with you.

When dressing for your Pilates class you need to make sure that your clothes will let you move and stretch fully. Your instructor will need to be able to see your body well enough to ensure your bones and muscles are aligned and engaging, so nothing too loose. There is no need to worry about footwear because Pilates is usually done barefoot. I would advise avoiding bracelets and long necklaces to as they could get caught in apparatus, similarly hair should be tied back.

What are the health benefits of Pilates?

Pilates improves flexibility and increases muscle strength and tone, consequently you will be less susceptible to muscular injuries. There is also a specific focus on the stabilization of the spine, this improves posture and provides safe rehabilitation for joint and spinal injuries. Through deep breathing exercises pilates can increase lung capacity making it perfect for people with breathing difficulties such as asthma, it also improves concentration, body awareness and stress management.

Arguably the most important health benefit received from Pilates is all about good posture and the calming self confidence boost that comes with it. As Joseph Pilates famously said 'through the Pilates method of body conditioning the unique trinity of a balanced body, mind and spirit can ever be attained. Self confidence follows'.

Which style of Pilates is best for beginners?

With such a wide variety of Pilates classes available it can often be very tricky to pick the right class for you. At Pilates Near You we suggest that as a beginner before you progress to more complicated classes you keep things very simple and ensure you are confident with the most basic forms of Pilates.

If you have any specific goals such as training for a specific sport or injury recovery make sure your instructor is aware and they will be able to advise you on the best classes for you.

Mat Pilates Classes – A great place for a beginner to start as they form the foundations of Pilates classes. Mat classes focus on strengthening your core stomach muscles through a series of floor based exercises and then your body as a whole.

Reformer Pilates Classes – A reformer class uses similar exercises as the mat classes but at a more intense speed. These classes take place on a machine called a reformer that has springs and pulleys attached which are designed to add resistance and make the workout more dynamic.

There are a wide variety of Pilates styles such as Hot Pilates, remedial Pilates, barre Pilates, aerial Pilates, STOTT Pilates and circuit Pilates to name but a few. We do suggest however that you attend a beginners class and have an understanding of basic Pilates concepts before trying Pilates designed for more experience practitioners.

Remember the most important thing is to communicate with your instructor, advise them of your experience and goals and they will always be happy to point you in the right direction!

How do I find a Pilates class?

Now you have an understanding of which Pilates classes might be suitable for you, finding a class is the easy bit! On Pilates Near You we have thousands of classes across the United States run by experienced studios or instructors.

To find a class all you need to do is visit the Pilates Near You homepage and enter your location. Choose a style of Pilates from the drop down menu that is suitable for you and see the studios in your local area.

Once you have found yourself a class you can simply book in online or leave your contact details for the instructor.