You’ve probably heard of Pilates and it’s amazing benefits, and maybe even have tried a class or two. However, knowing in your head and knowing in your body are two very different things.  Like any tried and tested discipline, it takes time and effort to truly learn the Pilates method.

Up until recently, the Reformer bed was predominantly a specialist piece of equipment only seen in boutique Pilates studios, used by those who are injured or athletes, who are looking for training that’ll give them an edge.

Group Reformer Pilates classes is a new(er) kid on the block, but they’re growing in popularity.  This means you no longer have to be injured or super athletic to enjoy the benefits of Reformer Pilates.

So before you book yourself a Reformer Pilates class, what are some of the things you can expect from your very first class (or the first few classes)?

1. Information overload

Your first class usually begins with a run-through of the Reformer machine– ‘foot bar’, the ‘box’, the ‘carriage’, the different colours of springs, the straps…everything’s new to you.

Then comes how do I lay down?  Where do I put my feet?  And that’s before the first exercise!

Once the class starts, there’s even more unfamiliar terms – ‘keeping your pelvis and spine neutral’, ‘breathe into the backs and sides of your lungs’, ’legs at tabletop’…the list goes on.

And then there’s where you should be feeling it and which muscles should be working – ‘bend at the elbows to activate your triceps’ (where are they?), ‘push from all corners of your feet – even distribution of force’ (how?).

At least with so much to keep in mind, there’s little room for you to think about anything else.

But what to do about the information overload?  Take your time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a Pilates practice.

2. Become aware of your body for the first time ever!

This flows from the first point that Pilates requires you to become aware of your body in space, and how certain muscles are working versus allowing other muscles to relax.

For many of us, it’s probably the first time that we become so aware of certain areas in our bodies e.g. the pelvic floor or the transverse abdominals AKA the core perhaps?

3. It isn’t just stretching!

I remember my very first Reformer Pilates class, I expected it to be an easy stretch class and yet 5 minutes in, my legs felt like jelly!

It’s incredible how the seemingly effortless movements in Reformer Pilates can be physically challenging to pull off.  Pilates emphasises the correct biomechanics so your whole body works in harmony.  You might not necessarily feel your muscles burning, but instead try to perform exercises with ease, control and efficiency, to keep inline with Pilates principles.

4. The Reformer machine looks intimidating but it’s incredibly comfortable.

The Reformer machine was designed from the hospital beds during the first World War, where Joseph Pilates had the job of rehabilitating injured soldiers.  Many of these soldiers were bed-bound with serious injuries.  To get them moving again, Joseph Pilates experimented with attaching different springs to the bed; to help strengthen the recovering soldiers’ muscles.

This inspired Pilates to develop the Reformer with springs for resistance.  So what you may initially see as an intimidating piece of equipment, is in fact a gentle giant who helped many soldiers recover and rebuild their strength.

5. Your instructor doesn’t just ‘show’ on a stage, they walk around to cue and to adjust you.

In a studio settings, not only are the class sizes smaller (at Leap, Reformer classes have 12 students maximum), you’ll also notice the instructor doesn’t merely demonstrate on a raised stage in the room.  They walk around giving you instructions, occasionally demonstrating on a spare machine, and then coming around to offer hands-on adjustments i.e. visual, auditory and tactile teaching.

Doing this makes the students become much more engaged with the exercises, learn better technique, and thereby seeing better results.

You may notice your instructor giving you many detailed instructions to what seems to be a simple exercise at first and that can be overwhelming.  To begin just pick one or two cues that the instructor says, and try to do those well, instead of trying to do all of everything at once.

6. As a result of point 5, you’ll find you enjoy it much more than you expected!

Even if you’d done Reformer Pilates a long time ago, and didn’t think much of it, I encourage you to give it a try in a reputable studio setting.  You may surprise yourself!

7. The exercises work your supporting muscles that are often overworked and under-loved.

It’s these smaller muscles that support your joints when moving.  You’ll feel sensation in places you didn’t even know you had muscles the next day, and that’s your body telling you job well done!

8. It’s so incredibly good for your body and the mind.

In Pilates, we cue the right breathing, mindfulness, the movements encourage blood circulation and muscles release, they all help to decrease your stress level.

Your Pilates class gives you the opportunity to shelter yourself from the outer world and connect within.  For 45 minutes you will be able to concentrate on your body and mind, relax and enjoy the time just for you.

9. After a few weeks, you’ll start to notice results; like Joseph Pilates says –

‘You will feel better in ten sessions, look better in twenty sessions, and have a completely new body in thirty sessions.’

With the right technique, regular practice, and doing it with a sense of joy, you’ll soon begin to notice changes in your body.  This is an incredibly exciting and personal experience.

Many of our members notice physical changes in how their bodies looked.  But for me, how strong my body felt after starting Pilates was priceless.

Want more information on how Pilates can help improve your health and wellbeing?  Check out our article ‘How Pilates makes you feel better, look better, and transforms you‘.

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