What do you need for your first Pilates class? Today's episode is a handy survival guide of tips and tricks to feeling comfortable and confident when you're new to Pilates. Tune in!
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[00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and share your thoughts on Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual. You can support the podcast by visiting buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts. Let's learn something new.
[00:00:46] Hello, hello everybody and welcome back to the podcast. Today on Pilates Students' Manual, I'll be taking you through a Pilates class survival guide and this is for both [00:01:00] in-person or virtual classes, whether you're brand new to a studio or it's your first time trying Pilates ever, this will be everything you need to succeed in that Pilates class.
[00:01:12] My first Pilates experience was kind of a wild ride because I really didn't know what I was getting into. I don't even think that I had a preconception of what Pilates was. I just had a friend who was a teacher and I went to her mat therapy class and it was supposed to be this very gentle mat Pilates class. And I found myself unable to do things that people around me they're, you know sixties and seventies, were doing without a problem. And it was a huge blow to my ego because I was this yoga teacher and I was young and why was this so hard?
[00:01:54] So these are some things that I wish I would have known going into my first Pilates [00:02:00] class. And just some things that I think are really helpful when you're trying something new to keep in mind, because some of this is, you know, very physical stuff, but some of it's a mental component as well. So that's what we'll be diving into today.
[00:02:14] When you're getting ready to go to this Pilates class, something to keep in mind is that you don't need to be strong or flexible or good at Pilates to go to a class. Like logically that makes sense. Like, of course they don't need to be good at Pilates to go to a Pilates class, but especially if you're an adult, which probably you are, um, there's this ego component that, you know, we want to be good at things. And so trying something new is a little bit scary and it's easy to make excuses like, oh, well, you know, I'm not strong enough or I'm not flexible enough.
[00:02:51] And what I can offer you is that, how do you think the people who do Pilates got strong and flexible, like, it's very likely that doing Pilates kind of [00:03:00] fit into that. So it's totally okay to start where you are and you may surprise yourself.
[00:03:07] I'm going to be giving more helpful tips here, but it's always a good idea to check the studio website, whether you're taking an in-person class or a virtual class, to see what they're getting ready for your class uh, checklist is. You can also ask your friend who invited you to come to this class if that's what happened, or if you're attending maybe a virtual class and you know, the teacher on Instagram, you can always reach out to them and ask questions as well.
[00:03:35] As far as the clothing you should wear, it should definitely be comfortable. But something to keep in mind is that your body is going to be making lots of shapes. You might be lying on your back with your legs reaching up towards the ceiling. You might be lying on your stomach or your side. You might be on hands and knees. You know, like our limbs are going to be [00:04:00] moving in lots of different directions. So that is definitely something to think about, especially if you're wearing like maybe loose sweat pants or basketball shorts or clothing that has a lot of zippers on it. You might be lying on those zippers and it could be uncomfortable. So that is just something to keep in mind.
[00:04:21] I know for people who might wear a loose basketball short, that if you wear tights underneath your basketball shorts, that can make you feel a little bit more comfortable. Because obviously you're not going to feel comfortable if you reach your legs to the ceiling and your pants dropped towards your groin and your underwear is visible. Like that doesn't sound very comfortable. So definitely keep that in mind. And then wear clothing that's going to be comfortable, not only while you're wearing it, but while you're moving in lots of fun ways in it.
[00:04:51] You definitely want to be hydrated. That might mean that you are drinking water before the class. Maybe not like right before the class, [00:05:00] but definitely leading up to the class. You want to be drinking water.
[00:05:05] I'm, as a teacher, I'm okay with you bringing your water bottle into the studio if we were doing an in studio class, as long as it has a lid that closes, and that you find a place to put your water bottle, that you are not going to knock it over. Um, one of my personal pet peeves as a Pilates teacher now is open cups of water because they're just like magnets for either me kicking them over, or you kicking them over, or your neighbor kicking it over, and then I'm cleaning up a spill while trying to cue a class. So that's not a fun time, but yeah, definitely have your water with you.
[00:05:40] As far as food recommendations, everyone's body is like super different. You may not want to exercise on an empty stomach. You don't want to feel faint or dizzy while you're exercising, Pilates or literally anything else. But what is a light amount of food beforehand? Okay. [00:06:00] Again, as I mentioned in the clothing bit, you're going to be moving your body in lots of different directions and there's going to be twists and there's going to be forward folds and there's going to be backbends. So do I recommend you eating a massive five course meal before your Pilates class? Maybe not, but you also do want to have energy to move. So that might feel like a different thing for you.
[00:06:24] Some people are totally fine, you know, having a big bowl of cereal before they go to Pilates. I definitely on the lighter side of eating, but it's a super personal thing, but something to keep in mind, especially if you're eating really heavy or really greasy food that can really sit in your stomach. And then when you're doing things like stomach massage on the reformer, or even a roll up to seated it can feel not super good in your belly if you've got a lot of food in there.
[00:06:51] Jumping back to clothing, briefly, studios might require that you need grip socks. So that is a thing to [00:07:00] check on their website or check with your friend or check with the teacher. Like, do I need to wear socks that have those little rubber grips on the bottom so that I don't slip on the equipment? That is one idea.
[00:07:11] And another thing you might bring, this is probably more, if you are doing a lot of reformer Pilates, so maybe this doesn't fit into the, the first time Pilates class thing, but you might also bring your own straps for the reformer. Um, that is something that some studios offer. You can buy them at studios, you can buy them online, and then you have your own straps and you're not using the ones that are kept at the studio, but you bring in your personal ones. That can also be nice, especially if you would like to have a set of your own.
[00:07:47] And then you definitely want to get to your class on time. So if you are coming to the studio, it's nice to be there on time, perhaps a little bit early, depending on what the class transitions are. That [00:08:00] would be a good thing to ask about so that you know where to put your stuff, where do your shoes go? You know, where's the bathroom, where's their water fountain. Do you need to check in for your class? All of that.
[00:08:11] And then if you were taking a virtual class, you also want to be there on time and make sure that your space is visible, that the teacher's going to be able to see you, that you have the space set up. There's some lighting considerations. It's better to not be against a window, or if you are, you know, backlit, that you can close the curtains because that'll be easier to see. That you have everything that you need for the class, kind of all set up there. That's just very nice and then get excited because you're about to have an awesome Pilates class. I'm excited for you.
[00:08:48] Coming up after the break, I'll be talking about things to keep in mind, things to think about during your class, as well as after your class. That's coming up next.[00:09:00]
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[00:10:04] During your Pilates class, things that I wish that I would have known before I started doing Pilates and I a hundred percent figured them out getting into the Pilates classes, but it would have been nice to know right upfront that in your class, there's going to be a lot of getting comfortable with being a little bit uncomfortable.
[00:10:27] It's weird. Pilates is weird. The shapes you make are very strange, not always intuitive. The equipment is weird. Sometimes what the teacher's asking you to do is funny. A lot of the time, especially when you're just getting started, you may not know exactly what's going on, or if you're doing it right. But what's important is that you're doing it.
[00:10:51] I'm a little bit of a perfectionist and it kind of drove me up the wall that I didn't know if it was right, but [00:11:00] like the thing is you're doing it and that's right. Uh, so getting comfortable with that little bit of uncertainty with being in kind of a weird shape with trying something new and that's as much like physical discomfort, because some of the movements are really hard, but then also mental discomfort that, you know, it's okay to not nail it and be perfect.
[00:11:23] Listen, a hundred percent, listen to what your teacher is saying and watch what your teacher does. Watch what other people in the class are doing. I know I've talked about in like studio etiquette, that it's not a great idea to just watch what your neighbor's doing and try to mimic what they're doing, whether it's your neighbor in the physical space, or, you know, another box in a zoom call. Keeping an eye on what's going on can help you when you're getting started. And you're not sure if this is what is supposed to be happening. So definitely [00:12:00] listen and watch and take those cues as well as what your teacher's saying.
[00:12:05] Yeah. Don't stress about being perfect. Don't beat yourself up. If you don't do some movement perfect, even for myself, sometimes I'll try something new and then be really disappointed that I didn't do it to whatever standard I thought I was going to be able to do it. And it's like, this is the first time I've done it. You know, this is a new day. This is practically a new body, you know, so cut yourself some slack, let yourself be a beginner. Like let yourself learn something. It's not going to be smooth and sleek. It's going to be clunky. And you know, that's the first step in getting smooth and sleek, honestly.
[00:12:42] I am a hundred percent sure that your teacher is going to say this, but I will remind you of it as well. Do the variation or the modification or the layer of the exercise that feels right in your body. You don't need to do the quote unquote, hardest one. [00:13:00] You don't need to do the one that the person next to you is doing. If your teacher offers you options and there's one that feels right, do that and be totally confident doing that. There's no judgment. It's not a competition. And sometimes you just need permission to do the thing that fits for you. And that's great.
[00:13:21] Also know that you're going to get better at Pilates when you work at it. It's just like practicing anything from learning to write, to learning to ride a bike, to learning to do teaser. The more you practice it, not saying you need to do it every day or that you need to do it three times a week, or there's some magic formula for that, but just know that if you practice it, it will get easier.
[00:13:45] Those were things to keep in mind during your class, after your class, you just had this amazing Pilates adventure. It was a little bit confusing and a little bit wild, but hopefully a lot of fun as well. Definitely [00:14:00] ask your teacher a question after the class if you had a question about something they said or something you did, or something felt weird, teachers love to talk about Pilates. They literally signed up to talk about Pilates all the time. So feel free to ask them a question.
[00:14:15] If you've got a ton of questions and you just feel like your mind is racing and there's so much you want to know, consider signing up for a private session with that teacher. Or with another teacher, but consider doing a one-on-one session where you can ask all those questions. A lot of studios offer intro to private session packages. Maybe it's a three-pack, maybe you just want to sign up for one session. And what that gives you is the undivided attention of a Pilates teacher, where yes, you can move and get your workout on and do all that fun Pilates stuff, but you could also talk with them and be like, Hey, I have no idea what's going on here. Can we, you know, break this down more? And your teacher will be absolutely thrilled to do that with you.
[00:14:59] [00:15:00] If you love Pilates, keep doing it, do it more, do it all the time. Some people hop on the reformer and absolutely fall in love with it, and don't want to leave. Amazing. Some people try Pilates and they're like, I don't know what that was, but I don't think I liked it. That's fine. I would say maybe come back a couple times. See if it grows on you.
[00:15:26] Pilates definitely grew on me that, you know, I had this very humbling first experience with Pilates, not being able to do things, specifically sideline exercises. I started cramping and I couldn't lift my leg after a certain point. And I was talking with another teacher, not the one who taught the class, but another teacher and asked them because they had also come to Pilates from yoga. And I was like, you know, Pilates so hard. Like why? Like, what am I doing wrong? Like, what did you do [00:16:00] to make Pilates make sense? And their response was actually, I think that yoga's, especially the style of yoga that I practice, Ashtanga, which is very aggressive power Vinyasa kind of flow class. And they said, you know, actually I think that Ashtanga is harder. And I was like, what? And just my mind blown, because I was like, why can't I do this?
[00:16:22] I could have thrown in the towel and said, this doesn't make sense on my body. Uh, screw you, Pilates. But I took that as a challenge and then came back and tried new things and heard new things, which is wild because the more you do Pilates and all of the little refinements that your teacher is sharing with you as you're moving, you hear them differently the more you move, and you're able to execute things differently because even if they're saying the same thing over and over and over again, it hits [00:17:00] different as you go through your little Pilates adventure.
[00:17:04] Pilates is really challenging, not only physically, but also at least for me, it really challenged what I knew about myself and these ideas that I had about myself as a strong, flexible young person and the expectations that I had for myself. I think that's something that draws a lot of people into Pilates. I think that's something that draws a lot of people to being teachers as well, because it's just awesome.
[00:17:35] If you listened to this episode and you try a Pilates class, I hope that these ideas and these sort of mental components, and also these, you know, very logistical and physical components are helpful to you on your Pilates journey 'cause that's the goal. I think Pilates is pretty awesome. And if I can help other people experience it, I think that that's a win. [00:18:00]
[00:18:00] Quick announcement. I'm going to be on hiatus in March of 2022. I've got some projects that I'm finishing up. So there will not be an episode in March, but I will be back in April. I will be sending out the newsletter and the link to the zoom chats for my Buy Me a Coffee supporters. So if you are new to Pilates and you'd like to chat with me a little bit about it, just visit that Buy Me a Coffee page, make a contribution to the podcast and you can sign up for a spot. I look forward to seeing you there.
[00:18:36] Thanks so much for tuning in. I hope you have a great few weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:18:52] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates [00:19:00] classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates? Check out Pilates Teachers' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts. I hope to see you next episode. Until next time.