As Pilates increases in popularity and notoriety, more and more people are curious about trying a class, but aren’t sure where to begin. We get it: it can be intimidating to start a new habit, especially one that makes you take a look at your own fitness and willingness to get (or stay) in shape. Pilates comes in two main forms: mat pilates, and reformer pilates. These days though, the Pilates reformer is becoming a more common sight than the mat, and for good reason. The reformer simply offers more options for all ability levels.
In Pilates studios across the country and even the world, you will see row upon row of reformers. They’re becoming the most preferred option in many fitness studios, and some fitness fans are even buying their portable reformers to be used at home.
There are three main questions we often hear from people who are interested in trying Pilates, whether that’s the mat or reformer version. Let’s dive into those now and shed some of the mystery surrounding this awesome fitness experience.
Of course you can! Pilates reformer classes may seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but once you demystify it, you’ll be in the flow in no time. Many of our students report that the hardest step was actually picking up the phone or walking into the studio to make that first class happen. It’s all easier from there! For a beginner, here’s what you need to remember:
It doesn’t matter who’s beside you, or what level others are at. Beginners in Pilates reformer classes often do not have an idea what a studio may look like, so they may not be able to even envision what awaits them when they show up. Although there are small studios that accommodate not more than 10 people, there are some that hold classes for 20 people or more in one session. If it’s your first time, don’t be afraid to set up next to a pro, one of our instructors, or by a mirror. The people inside the studio, including your instructor, are willing and able to help you out. One of the core missions of Phitosophy is to make Pilates accessible and remove the intimidation factor for all visitors. Besides, competition is simply not an aspect of Pilates. The only person you’re struggling to beat is your own previous best.
Don’t get frustrated if a new form of exercise is challenging at first. The thing about reformer Pilates classes is that there is no way of “faking it.” If your form isn’t right, the reformer won’t work the way you need it to, and you will feel the tension in your body immediately. Correct form is often difficult or strenuous for someone who’s not used to physical exertion — but then, that’s the whole point of starting an exercise regimen, isn’t it? Once you’re more experienced, it starts to feel so good to come to class that it’s almost addicting!
Pilates exercises, whether on a mat or a reformer, have a distinct progression starting with beginner classes to advanced classes. You’d think it’s the same exercise, but typically, a type of exercise is made more challenging by changing your position, adding or getting a spring, or your instructor may tell you to do one form on one leg, etc. So how will you know if you’re the right amount of exercise that suits your level?
In Pilates classes for beginners, expect that the exercises asked of you to perform are often those that support the body. On the reformer, even your head is supported. While generally, it is safe to do Pilates every day, it’s fine for beginners to start with one session per week. This is enough to supplement your other physical activities.
When you’re ready for an intermediate level class, you’ve already established a baseline level of fitness. Intermediate classes are tailored to those students. At this level, you have pretty much mastered the basics, and while you’re likely to do those still, more advanced exercises will be slowly introduced, so get ready to challenge your body and stamina beyond what you’re used to. Intermediate classes can still be done once a week, or if you wish, two to three sessions a week will yield faster and better results.
Here comes the most challenging level of all: the advanced Pilates classes. Remember that you can’t just generalize what advanced exercises are, as it all depends on the student’s stamina, control, and strength. Whenever you feel stuck and about to give up, remember that it’s not uncommon for a person to accomplish advanced exercises years after he or she started doing Pilates. You will need a lot of patience for this.
If you’ve reached the advanced level, by now, you’re already comfortable with more rigorous activities. It’s safe to do it every day, but again, this depends on how much time you’ve got and how dedicated you are to your fitness.
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: ABSOLUTELY YES!
There’s no way to completely prevent muscle soreness after a Pilates class, which is actually the same as any type of exercise routine or workout. Guess what? A bit of soreness is normal — you’re using your body the way it was meant to be used. After all, we were built for the wilderness, not for Starbucks. The good news is, there are ways to help your muscle cope while you’re recovering from your workout. But first, what causes post-workout soreness?
Your muscles, essentially, are being challenged to their limit, so their fibers actually get microscopically torn — that’s why it can feel sore the day after a class. But these fibers rebuild themselves, and in the process, they become sturdier and more resilient than ever. You should experience soreness after trying out a new routine, but your body will recover.
Here’s a tip to somehow lessen that feeling: always warm up and cool down before each session. Warming up allows your muscles to be ready for an extreme activity and this will prevent stiffness as well. There will always be some soreness afterward, but it’s important to listen to your body too. If it tells you that something is wrong or you’re on the verge of screaming “I can’ take this anymore!”, something is probably wrong. Listen to your instructor for cues to avoid not overdoing one type of exercise or routine.
If your goal is to get stronger, reformer Pilates classes are perfect for you. There will be soreness at first and when you’re trying out a new routine, but that should subside within three days, and the chances of feeling sore in that specific area again are lessened as you improve your overall strength and fitness.
There are times when you might want to push yourself harder. When this happens, the time for recovery afterwards might need to be greater. It’s best to take a few days off to completely help the muscles to heal. In many ways, you’re actually building your physique while you’re recovering — not while you’re actually in class.
Never forget to get enough sleep, drink lots of water, and eat a diet of balanced and healthy food groups to help your muscles recover. Ready to give it a shot? Come visit us today!