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How can I Prepare for a Pilates Class?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Pilates is a stretching and exercise regimen that focuses on the core muscles of the abdomen. It is particularly effective in exercising the muscles of the abdomen, hips and thighs without causing bulking of the muscles. There are many different types of Pilates classes, some involving complex machines and individual instruction. The usual type of class involves mat work and is taken with others in either a dance or Pilates studio or a health club. This explanation will focus on how to prepare for a Pilates class in the mat class setting.

The first thing you will need to have for a Pilates class is a mat. Some gyms may offer mats, but if you plan to take a lot of classes, owning your own is preferable. Should you choose to use the gym’s mat, bring a towel to cover it. Pilates mats are similar to yoga mats, but tend to be thicker. Some moves involve rolling on the lower back, and the extra thickness provides additional cushioning for such moves.

Pilates uses a specific form of breathing that differs from other types of exercise. Breaths are inhalations and exhalations that are counted in a slow 4 (1000, 2000, 3000, 4000). Depending on the instructor, you may be breathing through the nose, or vary breathing through the nose and mouth. You may want to consult with an instructor about his or her preference.

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Breathing should not be the slow abdominal breathing of yoga. Instead the breath should fill the lungs, but not raise the abdomen, which remains tightened during exercises. If you have been taking yoga classes, practicing the breathing may be particularly important as you prepare for a Pilates class.

Like yoga, Pilates clothing should be comfortable, but not so loose that the instructor cannot see your shape. Some prefer to wear a yoga style pant and a tank top, so the instructor can correct any positions that are wrong. If you don’t have the proper clothing, it’s worthwhile to invest a bit in appropriate fitness wear for a Pilates class. Pilates is usually practiced in socks, so you may also want to purchase ones that have grips on the bottoms so you don’t slip in standing exercises. You can also practice Pilates in traditional leotards and tights if preferred.

Pilates mat courses sometimes make use of additional equipment like bars or inflatable balls. In general, the instructor will have this equipment on hand for use during the class. Again, discussion with the instructor prior to class can let you know if you need to prepare for a Pilates class by purchasing additional equipment.

Instructors recommend refraining from eating heavy meals right before a class. The recommendation is to eat a small light meal with a little protein about an hour prior to class, since this will give you energy without making you feel overfull. You should also bring bottled water with you, since the exercises will cause you to become somewhat dehydrated.

It is not recommended that you prepare for a Pilates class with DVDs or tapes unless you have experience in yoga or dance. Pilates moves can be difficult to master, and modified moves may be needed if you have not pursued a consistent exercise regimen in the past. If you plan to do Pilates workouts primarily at home, it is better to take a few weeks of classes to get help from the instructor on proper positioning prior to working out at home. Improper positioning can sometimes cause injury, or at the very least, be ineffective in meeting your fitness goals.

Most importantly, you should prepare for a Pilates class by consulting your healthcare provider, particularly if you have known health conditions. Pilates is, however, often used in rehabilitative therapy. With the proper modifications, it is considered to be one of the best exercises, even for those with injuries or limited mobility.

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Heavanet
Post 3

Here is a tip for preparing for a pilates class that many women may not consider. Before you go to class, be sure to put your hair up if it is long. If you don't, it is very likely to get in your face or in the way of the pilates exercises you will be doing.

For the must comfortable up do, place your hair high on your head with a clip or pin it up and back into a bun. You will be able to concentrate on exercising instead of stopping to get your hair out of the way.

Raynbow
Post 2

I found some neat gardening mats that are perfect for a pilates class. They are large enough, and seem to have extra padding that regular pilates mats don't have. If you are preparing for a pilates class by looking for a good a good mat to use, you may want to look at a home and garden store instead of a sports supply store.

Ocelot60
Post 1

A good pilates class is similar to a yoga class in the way that it will help you relax and become more flexible. The best pilates class available will have everything you need included, from a mat to instructions on the best way to breath.

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