Pilates – FAQ’s and what to expect on your first visit.

If you have never stepped into a Pilates class before, you may be wondering what all the fuss is about and what to expect? Everyone is talking about it. There are countless newspaper and magazine articles, G.P’s, physiotherapists and health professionals recommend it. Even Madonna, the Middleton’s, and Andy Murray tweet and talk about it.  But why should you do it?

Pilates is a formulated programme of exercises that will help and improve the movement of your body. It aims to improve muscle recruitment, build awareness of how your body moves and the final aim is to improve your everyday functional movement of your body.

There are some misconceptions;

Is Pilates like yoga?

Many people think Pilates is like yoga and there are some similarities between the two forms of exercise, but there are also big differences. Your breath is used to aid your                        movement in yoga and Pilates classes. Many exercises are carried out on a mat. But that’s where the similarities end. There is no chanting and no chakras, no downward in a Pilates class.

Is Pilates about your core

There is a lot of focus on your abdominals in a Pilates class, but I also feel there is more focus on your spine and pelvis. Being aware of how your spine and other joints in your body are moving, (or remaining stable).

Is Pilates only for ladies

Pilates is for everyone and I believe everyone should take part in a form of it each week if they can. It is a really popular form of exercise with ladies, but more and more men have discovered the benefits. It is also worth knowing that Pilates or “Contrology” as it was original called, was created by a man called Joseph Pilates. Cristiano Ronaldo is a big fan of reformer Pilates and when Andy Murray was training for the French Open, his coach introduced Pilates into his training regime while recovering from back surgery. So there are plenty of added benefits for men.

Is Pilates just for back pain

In 2013 over 30 million working days were lost to musculoskeletal problems, back pain being one of those problems. If you are being treated by a health professional they may prescribe regular Pilates classes. The exercises will focus small controlled movements to your spine and pelvis, which will offer relief from the persistent pain experienced.

But once you are free from pain, Pilates exercises can be modified to then build strength and stamina. The most important thing is to listen to what your body is telling you.  Each exercise shouldn’t cause pain, if you do feel pain, then you stop and then change or modify the exercise.

You don’t have to have an injury or issue with your body to do Pilates. It’s a fun way to exercise and I can guarantee you wont finish the class in a sweaty exhausted mess!  You will finish the class with a sense of wellbeing and feeling great.

Some people say the Pilates exercises help or compliment with their other daily or weekly activities. Activities like walking, cycling or running. If they have spent hours in the garden they say they feel their back needs to be stretched out.

Your first class

What should I wear?

Wear clothes that you can move easily in.  It doesn’t have to be bright tight Lycra. A long sleeved top and tights or T-shirt and shorts are fine. As long as you feel comfortable, that is the most important thing to consider. Bring some socks with you, bear feet are also fine, but I always wear socks with grips on the sole. The grip helps with any standing or balance exercises, or if you have feet on equipment.

Should I bring a mat?

You are more than welcome to bring your own mat, but it’s not necessary.  All the equipment needed for the class is provided.

I have an injury

Always inform the teacher of any issues or injuries before the class begins.  The teacher will pay special attention to any exercises that may impact your injury.

I don’t think I’ll be able to do the exercises

All the exercises can be modified to make them easier or more challenging.  It’s not a competition, don’t worry if you can’t do an exercise, with practice and some time, you will be able to progress your own training programme. Don’t be in a rush and expect too much from your body. Everybody’s body is different and the teacher will recognise this and modify any exercises for you.

If you are concerned or perhaps lack confidence, you can always arrange a one to one session with the teacher.

But of course the best way to find out about Pilates is to try a class for yourself!

Learn more about Pilates at West Wimbledon Clinic