5 Things to Know Before Your First Pilates Class

Woman practicing Pilates

Looking for an effective way to improve your posture, strengthen your core, and develop your flexibility? Then you’d better look into a Pilates class. With its focus on lengthening and strengthening your muscles, Pilates is a full-body workout that helps tone, tighten, and trim without building short, bulky muscle mass. So what do you need to know before your first Pilates class? Let’s start with the basics. 

What is Pilates? 

Pilates is a low-impact training program that focuses on building strength and flexibility, particularly in the core, legs, and glutes. Other benefits include improved posture, lengthening of the spine to reduce pain chronic back pain, and better balance thanks to all of the small, precise movements that strengthen your stabilizers. 

Choose your class: mat or reformer? 

There are two basic types of Pilates classes. Mat classes, like the type we offer at Swell’s Cathedral Oaks location, use bodyweight exercises paired with mindful breathing to build strength. Advanced classes and those with a dedicated Pilates studio typically use reformers

These machines add resistance to intense Pilates workouts. If you’re not sure which is right for you, consider your fitness goals and capabilities. Many Pilates instructors recommend mat sessions for beginners. Some even insist that their clients build a foundation with mat sessions before ever strapping into a reformer. 

All of the exercises are scalable

Don’t worry. Pilates isn’t just for professional dancers and athletes. All of the moves in a Pilates class can be scaled to your fitness level and preferences, while still providing the same benefits. It’s the perfect fit for everyone—from experienced practitioners to fitness newbies. 

You’re in for an ab blast

There’s a reason Pilates moves factor into most ab workouts. With its focus on the mind-body connection, Pilates asks you to engage your core from start to finish through mindful breathing. Stick with it for long enough, and you’ll notice strengthening and toning in your abs, obliques, and lower back muscles. 

But it’s not typically an aerobic workout

While Pilates can be challenging, it’s not necessarily going to get you into a cardiac training zone. Instead of trying to get your heart rate up, you should practice precision and take your time with the exercises. Most Pilates instructors ask you to focus on the task at hand and connect to your breath.

If you’re ready for your first Pilates class, the Swell team is here to introduce you to your new favorite fitness class!