What to Expect in Pilates Mat Classes
First, what is Pilates? Pilates was developed in the early 1900’s by Joseph Pilates and is now practised worldwide as a popular form of exercise. Pilates focuses on the development of core strength, stability, good posture and body awareness. One of the big benefits of Pilates is development of more efficient and graceful movement. With consistent use you’ll also notice improved strength and a leaner physique. Pilates is low impact, with limited cardio and is suitable for nearly anyone. This includes professional sports people, seniors, post-natal and those undertaking physical rehabilitation as recommended by an appropriate medical professional. It’s also suitable for everyone who wants to look good at the beach.
Pilates exercise can either be done on a mat on the floor with minimal equipment or on a range of specially designed equipment. At our Bondi Pilates studio Balance Moves offers Pilates Mat, Pilates Reformer and private Pilates on a range of apparatus (check out the back room).
Most people start with Mat Pilates. This will allow you to get familiar with some of the exercises and develop a good foundation before you move onto the complicated looking reformer machines.
If you’re more of a private person Balance Moves offers very high quality private Pilates tuition on the very best equipment. Our equipment is Gratz based Basil equipment imported from New York, just like Joseph Pilates would have liked. Have a chat with the instructors or speak with reception to learn what might work for you. Many people who get a taste for Pilates take several privates to focus on their own technique and this is a great way to get the most out of your group classes.
So what should you actually expect when you walk in for your first Pilates Mat Class?
In our Bondi Pilates studio on Hall Street you’ll find super friendly instructors and a great mix of clients… locals, tourists and the odd celebrity. Most Pilates studios, ours included, have a large open room. Clients grab a mat and grab a space. For your workout just wear comfortable workout gear (tighter fitting is generally preferred), most people don’t wear socks (although grippy socks for reformer work … works). Bringing a small towel and your own water is a good idea and remember there are plenty of great cafes just meters from the door… so if you need a post workout recovery or gossip there are plenty of options.
If it is your first time, make sure you let the instructor know. You’ll need to complete a brief form and you should also let the instructor know if you have any injuries or limitations (like pregnancy). This is important and if necessary the instructor will modify certain exercises to suit.
Pilates is difficult and can be very challenging. Many fit people and even professional athletes make the mistake of thinking Pilates is easy… it isn’t. Over time it appears to get easier… but really that’s just you getting better.
During class a good instructor will demonstrate or suggest movements that may increase difficultly levels. If you’re starting out take the easier options and focus on learning the correct technique. Listen to the instructor and if you need help let them know, questions are allowed.
Pilates has many devoted fans and Balance Moves has attracted many followers since it started in 2001. Don’t worry if you can’t match the person next to you, there are many experienced clients and even instructors who attend Balance Moves classes on a regular basis. Just focus on yourself and keep within your own limits (having good people around you is great… learn from their technique!).
Finally its good practise to really focus on your breath and the specific muscles you are working… it does take time but will improve with every class. Keep your breath smooth and even and listen to your instructor for inhales and exhales.
Afterward you should feel energised and maybe learn about a few muscles you didn’t know you had. Pilates is a lifestyle, stick with it. It will change your life.