Over the years of teaching and taking classes, I've amassed some good advice and best practice for you in your Pilates class. Today I share my top tips for you to help make your Pilates class experience more comfortable and more successful. From clothing, to the best way to roll your mat, to letting go of what you think other people may be thinking, I've got you covered in this episode. 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. Welcome back to the podcast. Today's episode of Pilates Students' Manual doesn't have a plot per se, but it is a very helpful assortment of [00:01:00] tips and tricks to help you succeed in your Pilates classes, whether you're doing equipment classes or mat classes. These are tips that I wish that I could tell students as a teacher, you know, maybe before they come to set them up for success or things that I've learned from taking classes of just things that are better practices to taking class so that everything goes more smoothly. So while these tips are in no particular order and with no, you know, varying degree of importance, these are some things that I've thought about and found to be really useful, and I hope they're useful for you too.
[00:01:40] This is also a throwback to an episode that I may have done more than a year ago now, uh, called Pilates Class Survival Guide. Um, so these are some of those tips, and if you're looking for even more tips, definitely check out that episode, but also more things that have gained my attention and some [00:02:00] really quick problems that are super easy to solve. And yeah, I'm gonna share that with you today.
[00:02:05] If you are taking a mat class and you bring your own mat, and every time you unroll your mat, it rolls back up on you and makes you sad, and you have to put your water bottle on it, or you have to put a magic circle on it to keep the corners down so that it doesn't turn you into a burrito. There is a solution.
[00:02:22] I learned this from Manduka, which is the company that I love for their mats. And that is if you roll your mat so that the top of your mat is on the outside, so instead of putting the top of the mat on the inside, you put the top of the mat on the outside when you roll it up, then when you unroll it, it always lies flat. It was a game changer for me. Go forth and have a mat that doesn't sabotage you while you try to exercise on it.
[00:02:48] Here are a couple tips if you take heated classes. I know there is hot Pilates. This also works if you take hot yoga or any other hot class, you need to be [00:03:00] hydrated before the class starts. You can't drink water during the class and expect that water to digest in time to hydrate you. So especially if you're taking a warm class, but really any sweaty class as well, you need to drink water before the class. It takes about an hour from the time that you drink a liquid for your body to digest it, and then you have to pee afterwards.
[00:03:26] So know that about the water that you drink and try to time the way you drink your water so that you can also pee before you take your class. Because there's nothing worse than trying to do Pilates with a full bladder. Like can you imagine lying on your stomach trying to do swan when you have to pee? It's not great.
[00:03:44] So I can tell you when I take heated classes, because I do take a lot of hot yoga classes, I always stop drinking water about an hour before, maybe not class time, but before I have to leave to take the class so that I know that all of that [00:04:00] water is like in my cells and I'm super hydrated, but I also won't have to pee.
[00:04:05] By the same token, you also don't want to eat a big meal before you do Pilates, and that's whether you do hot or not hot classes. Just the shapes we make with our spine. We move a lot. We're in a lot of different body positions. We're in compressed shapes. We're lying on our stomach, we're lying on our side. We're lying on our back. It doesn't feel good, I think, to have a really full belly when whether it's full of water or full of food. It just doesn't feel good when you're trying to move.
[00:04:35] So I'm not saying don't eat because definitely eat. You don't wanna have no energy when you're taking your class, but either eat a light meal or maybe a snack. Again, when I'm taking classes, I also try to take classes in the morning, so I'll do like a protein shake before I go take class so that my tummy is not really full or bloated or anything.
[00:04:59] Also in [00:05:00] hot classes, but also if you just like cold beverages, insulated water bottles are gonna be your friend in the hot classes. Your water can get really warm, which is not super delicious when you're trying to drink it either during or after class. Insulated water bottles are definitely going to be helpful there.
[00:05:16] Clothing. We always wanna wear clothing that we feel comfortable in, we feel good in, and that we can move in. The caveat to that is that we are in so many different body positions when we do Pilates, that maybe you are comfortable in that outfit when you are standing up, but then you're not super comfortable when you're doing a super big twist. Or maybe you're lifting your legs straight up to the ceiling while you're lying on your back.
[00:05:44] So if you're wearing really loose pants, I always think of basketball shorts just because they're super comfortable when you're upright. But then when your legs are up to the ceiling and your pants drop towards your groin, then maybe you wouldn't be comfortable.
[00:05:58] Or if you're wearing [00:06:00] really low cut tops or really strappy tops as well. Sometimes when you twist, it doesn't have the same coverage in the chest. I'm always hyper-conscious of my clothing when I'm moving. Pilates is hard enough without you having to also juggle like, oh my gosh, like am I gonna have a wardrobe malfunction here at the same time?
[00:06:21] So do keep in mind the fact that you're gonna be in lots of different positions and lots of different shapes. I don't wanna say you have to wear skin tight clothing, but if you wear looser clothing, just know that that's gonna happen or. You know, it's the same thing where if you're planking and piking on the reformer or something, you might be in a really comfortable T-shirt, but that t-shirt might drop towards your hands when you're in a forward fold kind of thing. And then it just wouldn't be comfortable. So just be aware of all of that stuff.
[00:06:50] Also your skin sticks to the reformer. Especially we do a lot of stuff lying on the carriage, on the reformer and it can be sticky [00:07:00] and sweaty. Um, there's some times where we have to like roll up and down off of the carriage, or maybe you're doing semi-circle, you have to wiggle around on the carriage. It's hard to do in a tank top. I also wear tank tops when I exercise, but it's just another thing to know that your clothing can change the way you experience the exercise as well.
[00:07:20] If you're new to the class or new to Pilates, it's a good idea to be somewhere in the middle of the room because then there's people around you who are also doing Pilates. You might be able to look at them if you're really totally lost. Do keep in mind that those people may also not know what they're doing and they might be looking at you for a little bit of help. But I do like putting new people or if I'm new, being, somewhere in the middle, because then you can kind of feel out the vibes and, you know, hopefully follow along.
[00:07:52] The best thing to do is of course, to listen to the teacher, but you know, that doesn't always happen or maybe you miss what they said, something like that. [00:08:00] So being in the middle of the room, I think, is better than being in a corner where you can't see what's going on anywhere. Um, having a good view of the teacher and having a good view of other people is really helpful.
[00:08:11] Coming up after the break, I've got more hot takes, more tips, and more ways to help you succeed in class. That's coming up next.
[00:08:23] Hi there. Enjoying the podcast? Me too. Make sure you subscribe wherever you're listening so you get notified about new episodes and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. There you can make a one-time donation or become a member with a donation of as little as $5 a month.
[00:08:45] Members get some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit links.OliviaBioni.com/affiliates and check out some sweet [00:09:00] deals on products I use and love. Now back to the show.
[00:09:23] The tips are all over the place. I apologize. There will be an Instagram post and I'll try to put the tips in a more useful order, but this is very stream of consciousness as it comes to me.
[00:09:35] If you bring water to class, which is fine, you may, I don't know, everyone's different. I don't like drinking water while I'm exercising for what I said in the first part. I feel like there's stuff in my stomach and then I feel like, eh, gross. That's me. You might enjoy having sips of water while you're working out and that's fine.
[00:09:57] If you bring water into the [00:10:00] practice room with you, please have a lid that seals your container because, um, this is as a teacher, just I know that if someone comes in with a cup of water, I'm like, well, let me get the paper towels, cuz I'm gonna have to clean that up when you knock it over inevitably. So please, please, please have a lid on it. So just to minimize the likelihood of it spilling.
[00:10:25] In that same vein, if you are a person who brings your phone into the class with you, because you need it to be very close to you, you are a huge source of my personal anxiety because, um, especially in equipment classes. We've got weights, we've got equipment. We're stepping on and off of the equipment. People's water is there and I am just constantly terrified that your phone is gonna get ruined when you forget that your phone was there and you like drop your weights on it. [00:11:00] So I always recommend that you leave your phone with your shoes, with your jacket, with your purse outside of the room.
[00:11:10] Of course studios have different policies. Every studio that I work at and teach at has a door that locks and a person who's at the front desk. So no one is going to take any of your things.
[00:11:19] I know that studios are different, so you might say, well, I have to have my stuff with me. In that case, I think the best place for it is under the reformer because, uh, less stuff happens under the reformer usually than, uh, in front of it, beside it, or behind it. Like we do lots of stuff all around the reformer. And I just don't want your phone to get broken.
[00:11:43] Recovery time. So the time between your exercise sessions, your workouts is integral to you getting stronger. That is actually how you get stronger. When we exercise, we do this [00:12:00] micro damage to our muscles. That's some of the soreness that you feel after you exercise. And when you aren't exercising is when your body rebuilds muscle tissue and you get stronger. So the recovery time is very important.
[00:12:16] When you are just getting into Pilates, you wanna take some time to build your capacity, because if you weren't doing any exercise and then you start going seven days a week, that is a huge jump in what you're asking of your body and your body's trying to recover from the previous workout, and now you're working out again. Everyone's recovery time is gonna be different, but do give yourself that recovery time.
[00:12:42] There's something called a too much too soon injury, which is exactly what I said. You weren't doing anything, now you're doing a ton. Usually in a couple months you start to feel a lot of pain because you have exercised and not given your body the chance to recover. [00:13:00] In like layman's terms, that's kind of what's going on. And we don't want that to happen because if you're injured, then you can't exercise the way that you want to and you have to take off more time and do even less, you know, in order to recover.
[00:13:11] So in order to avoid that, what I usually recommend is that you build your capacity slowly. You know, you start with. A couple times a week and see how your body does after that. Because you know, you may be doing other things as well. Like there's a lot of factors that go into this, but before you add on more, make sure that what you're doing is within your capacity to continue, and then we can build it up.
[00:13:33] You can totally do Pilates every day. I'm not telling you you can't do Pilates every day, but you build up to that. A good way to check to see if you're doing too much is something called the 24 hour rule. That's that if you are exercising and you feel sore, that's fine. If you feel sore the next day or that soreness gets worse, like 24 hours later, you're still sore or more sore than you were. That means that's your body's way of telling you, Hey, that was a little bit too much. [00:14:00] Can you dial it back for me and then build the capacity up to that? And that could be in the number of sessions you're doing, the intensity of the sessions you're doing. But that 24 hour rule will give you a clue on when you're doing too much.
[00:14:14] Another tip I have for you is to get out of your own head. No one cares what version or option or variation of the exercise you're doing in class. Literally no one cares. No one is judging you. Your teacher is not judging you. Your teacher is there to help you find the right exercise for you and is there to help. They wanna answer your questions. They want you to be successful in class.
[00:14:37] So, I know there's this thing that happens in that when Pilates teachers walk around the classroom, everyone like tenses involuntarily because you know, it's like they're being inspected, but that's really not it. Your teacher is really trying to help you succeed, so don't worry about what they're thinking or what anyone else in the room is thinking about you because they're not thinking about you. They're thinking about their own stuff. [00:15:00]
[00:15:00] And then the last point that I wanna make and is something that I still tell myself, and that's. No one's perfect. You don't need to be hard on yourself. You don't need to try to be perfect. You just need to do your best when you're in class, showing up is nine tenths of it. Trying is the last bit.
[00:15:19] You don't have to be flawless. No one expects you to be flawless. The effort is the outcome. I say it all the time because my teacher said it to me. And that just means that the fact that you are trying, you are making an effort. That is the outcome. The fact that you did it.
[00:15:38] As a side effect of doing Pilates, you will get better at Pilates. You will get stronger, you will get more flexible, you will get more coordinated. You will begin to decipher the weird language of Pilates and body parts and equipment and things, right? You will get better at it. You just have to keep trying and keep showing up and keep practicing. Pilates is [00:16:00] hard. It's not easy, it's counterintuitive. It's very challenging. Deeply unsatisfying sometimes, um, but also really fun.
[00:16:09] So give yourself time if you're not in the "Pilates is fun" phase of your Pilates journey. Know that with time it does get better, it does get more fun. You start to understand what your Pilates teacher says and they say, oh, this'll be fun. And then you groan internally cuz it's Pilates fun, right?
[00:16:29] Huge thank you to all my supporters on Buy Me a Coffee. I appreciate you being part of this project and I really look forward to our coffee chats coming up soon. If you wanna have a coffee chat with me, hang out, ask some Pilates questions, or just pick my brain. You can visit that Buy Me a Coffee page and sign up. I would love to chat with you.
[00:16:51] And also a shout out to Liz who visited the Club Pilates South Loop location that I teach at. Uh, she visited and [00:17:00] took class with me on Monday. She's doing her teacher training out in California and she's visiting her sister, and they both came and took class with me. And it was fabulous meeting you. Good luck on your teacher training. That was an absolute treat.
[00:17:13] So if you're ever in Chicago and you wanna come take class with me, I do teach in-person on Monday nights, and I would love to have you in class. Have a great couple weeks and I'll talk to you again soon.
[00:17:34] Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of Pilates Students' Manual, a podcast helping you get the most out of your Pilates classes. Be sure to check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesstudentsmanual and subscribe wherever you're listening. Interested in teaching Pilates too? Check out Pilates Teachers Manual available everywhere you listen to podcasts.
[00:17:58] I hope to see you next episode. [00:18:00] Until next time.