Pilates for Beginners: How to Get Started

If you’re looking for something that will help you improve your posture, balance and core strength while at the same time being relaxing and restorative, a Pilates for beginners class could be for you. 

How beginners can get started with Pilates

Taking its name from its creator Joseph Pilates, Pilates draws from numerous influences including dance, yoga, acrobatics and even animal movements. In fact, a number of the techniques were developed during Joseph’s time interned as a German alien during World War I. But don’t let that scare you, Pilates is very accessible for beginners, and will help you to address and improve any number of issues. 

  • Improving your posture 
  • Injury protection and prevention 
  • Correct muscular imbalances 
  • Improve balance and core stability 
  • Improving your mobility  
  • Relaxation and good for your mental health 

Why should you start taking a Pilates class? 

You should start taking Pilates if you’re looking to work on your core strength, posture and mobility. If you sit in at a desk all day and you’ve started noticing yourself slouching over more, or you’re experiencing back pain or lack of mobility because of it, Pilates is a great place to start. 

You could also start taking a Pilate class if you want to improve your balance or flexibility, or if you’d just like a low-impact, relaxing class that will also have you working hard. 

What is the difference between mat Pilates and reformer Pilates? 

Reformer Pilates and mat Pilates tend to include similar, if not the same, movements. The obvious difference being that those moves are performed on a Reformer Pilates machine in the case of the former. So while mat Pilates classes use your bodyweight for exercise, the Reformer machine can add resistance. The apparatus can also allow for a greater range of motion which can be great for building muscle strength and increasing mobility and flexibility. 

That being said, Reformer Pilates can seem quite intimidating and feel a little weird if you’re new to the practice. Reformer classes also have a strict limited capacity and as such aren’t as widely available as mat Pilates classes. 

But it’s absolutely worth giving it a try. See if there’s a Reformer Pilates class near you. 

Is Pilates or yoga better for fitness beginners? 

There’s a lot of similarity between yoga and Pilates, with many of the same poses, movements and exercises. Choosing the one that’s right for you as a fitness beginner will depend on your experience, physical ability and limitations, and what you’re looking to work on. 

Yoga has innumerable incarnations which means that are all sorts of different options to choose from to suit your personal preference. Power yoga and dynamic yoga are faster-paced classes, Iyengar yoga focuses more on recovery and rehabilitation while Hatha yoga is often a simple, more straightforward class. 

The style and intensity of a Pilates class depends entirely on the choices of the instructor. So while some yoga classes are very structured, and you’ll get the same or similar class each time, Pilates has no pre-defined layout, so it’s up to the teacher what they will include. That being said, there will always be a strong focus on core strength and mobility. 

The short answer is both yoga and Pilates are great for fitness beginners, it really depends on what you enjoy and what you’re looking to get from the class. Pilates will always focus on core strength, mobility, flexibility and balance. So you might prefer it to yoga if you don’t enjoy sequences or faster paced classes. Likewise you might prefer yoga if you enjoy those things. 

Our advice would be to try one of each and see which you prefer. 

How to get started with Pilates 

If you’ve never done a Pilates class before, it’s probably best to attend a class in person as opposed to online. If you let the teacher know it’s your first class, they’ll be able to give you extra guidance and advice, and check your form to make sure you’re progressing properly.  

If you’re going to a Pilates studio, look for one that specifically offers beginners classes. You’ll feel more comfortable and you’ll be able to take your time to learn the exercises with support and supervision. 

What does a beginner need to know before Pilates class? 

It’s important to talk to the teacher before you start the class, just to let them know that you’re new and if you have any injuries or areas of concern that they can help with. Teachers will always ask about injuries and pregnancies before they start teaching, so don’t feel shy about putting up your hand to let them know. 

When you go to your first few classes, it’s so important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If your teacher gives you more advanced options, don’t feel pressured to try them out. It’s much more beneficial to get used to the class format and feel confident to try them harder options in the future. 

What to wear to Pilates class

You’ll want to wear something with plenty of movement to a Pilates class, nothing too tight or restrictive. You should also feel comfortable in what you wear to a Pilates class, and this could include a good, supportive bra. 

It can also be helpful to wear socks with grip if you don’t feel comfortable in bare feet, as regular socks will cause you to slip and you could injure yourself. 

Finally, you might want to bring an extra layer like a hoody or jumper you can easily pull off and on when needed, particularly if you do a relaxation session afterwards. Also, if it’s the first class of the day the studio might be cold when you start, so having an extra layer can be a great comfort. 

Lucy Elizabeth Moffat is a Senior Content Marketing Executive and freelance writer living in London. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her exploring new fitness studios, planning her next trip away, or curling up with a book. Sunflowers make her smile, you can connect with her on confessionsofalondoner.com.
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