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Six Things to Know Before Attending a Beginners Pilates Mat Class


Have you ever been to a Pilates Mat Class? A lot of people are either in one of two categories; either they’re extreme Pilates enthusiasts or they’ve never set foot in a Pilates Studio.

If you’re one of those in the latter category you might be curious about what all goes into Pilates, or what you need to know before you decide to enrol in a Pilates class.

While many aren’t familiar with the benefits, the overall aim of Pilates is to work on flexibility, endurance and strength. There is a strong emphasis on breathing patterns during movement and it can help improve focus.

Before you start, read on to find out six things to know before attending a class.


1. Know What a Mat and Reformer Class Is

Starting a Pilates class isn’t simply a one-size-fits-all type of approach; there are many different types of Pilates classes. It’s an individual preference as to which one you choose.

The clip below shows an explanation of how Pilates started and why there are different types of classes.

Mat Pilates classes are performed on the ground, and on top of a mat. Reformer uses large equipment and springs of different strengths for resistance. In addition, small and large equipment can be used to make exercises easier or harder.

See the photo and caption below for an example of the ‘tabletop’ terminology used in classes.

Pilates Mat Class

Single tabletop. Imagine the leg resting on a table.

Some of the exercises will be challenging, but the instructor should be able to adapt the exercise to each individual’s capacity.

The benefit of mat classes is that the exercises can be practiced at home. Whereas with the reformer, you need to go to a gym or studio that holds these classes. (Although some people need to go to classes to be made accountable – they don’t seem to find the time to do exercises at home!)


2. Ideally, Beginner Classes Should Be Small

Beginning Pilates mat classes need to be small. Additionally, they need to go through all of the basic principles. There tend to be a lot of terminologies to get to grips with initially. But, there are lots of repetitions, so you will start to feel more comfortable with things as time goes on.

Generally speaking, there’s an individual session before starting to cover the basics and review each individual’s movement pattern. This will help give the instructor an idea of what level of difficulty to plan for each class.

 You shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew in an upper-level Pilates class; you might risk injury or you might risk improperly performing fundamental movements important to higher levels of Pilates routines.


3. Your Instructor Might Intensify Your Routine

Not everyone who embarks on a Pilates journey is completely out of shape.

Each exercise can be varied to make it hard or easier, depending on the level.  A good instructor understands this and may want to adjust your exercises and levels depending on your previous experience.

Generally speaking, if the routine has been intensified for you, you may find yourself, for example, holding your breath. You may have been pushed too far, so let your instructor know as they can adapt it.


4. It’s Not a Tough Workout But You’ll Feel The Burn

Pilates isn’t about throwing your body into a third-dimension of torturous physical activity. It’s not like the high-intensity style exercises. You probably won’t work up much of a sweat.

The exercises are more about developing awareness of your own body, properly activating your muscles, and working on breathing and focus.

This doesn’t mean you won’t feel some of that familiar burn you’re used to when doing a sit-up, for example. Some people find that they’re a lot more relaxed after a class.


5. Clothing is Important

Pilates is unique in more ways than one; this uniqueness extends to the type of clothing you’ll want to wear to your first class.

Shoes aren’t worn during a Pilates class. You can perform the exercises with or without socks.

Also important are clothes that aren’t too baggy. The instructor needs to check your body alignment. Baggy clothes prevent your instructor from seeing this.

Ultimately, you want to be comfortable in what you’re wearing.


6. Pilates is An Excellent Complement to Other Fitness Activities

Pilates complements other forms of physical activity well based largely on two things.

First, Pilates gives you an excellent ‘core’ workout.

Core strength is important for balance, stability, and muscle harmony.

Secondly, Pilates increases your body’s awareness.

This means that if you’re working out you’ll be more mindful of your body and its muscles while exercising, leading to awareness of things such as overworked muscles, potential fatigue, and muscle strain.

These two things are important to develop in many forms of intense physical activity. In this way, Pilates is the perfect complement to other forms of exercise!



Trying out different exercises is key to improving and maintaining the body’s flexibility, which in turn can help with recruiting muscles efficiently.

If you’ve got any questions on the above, then please let us know (click for contact details).

Remember – Listen to Your Body!

Please remember to listen to your body. Get any aches and pains checked out sooner rather than later.


As with all information given for exercises and exercise programs, when using our exercise videos or information, please use your common sense and don’t do anything that will hurt you. By performing any fitness exercises, you are performing them at your own risk. PhysioFit Health will not be responsible or liable for any injury or harm you sustain as a result of information shared on our website or YouTube channel. This includes emails, videos, and text. Thanks for your understanding.

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