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What is Pilates?

Pilates is a type of low-intensity exercise aimed at strengthening muscles while improving posture adjustment and flexibility. A typical Pilates workout can take 45 minutes to an hour.

It was originally called "Contrology", but it was named after its inventor, carpenter and gymnast Joseph Pilates. This program was developed to help soldiers and dancers who were injured while he was living in the United Kingdom. Then, in 1926, he opened his first Pilates studio in New York.

Pilates workouts are mostly mat-based and can be tailored to your individual fitness level, making them suitable for both beginners and those who are ready to try more advanced movements. It was initially created with 34 basic exercises aimed at perfect coordination of spirit, body and mind. These exercises have been developed over the years, but despite the different approaches taken by some instructors, the six key principles are maintained and all certified instructors are following it. They include control, concentration, powerhouse centring, breathing, accuracy and flow.

There are two types of Pilates - Mat and Reformer Pilates. The class is based either on a slightly thicker mat than a standard yoga mat (to relieve pressure points) or a machine called a reformer (a sliding platform with fixed footbars, springs and pulleys that provide resistance).

Preparing for Your First Pilates Class
Ready to start practicing Pilates? Here are some things to keep in mind.

What To Bring?
Pilates studios usually have workout equipment so you don't have to bring a lot to your class. An exception would be the mat, If you want to use your own rather than the one shared by the class.

You might also want to bring an extra towel you can use as a neck support if you need it. Some classes may expect you to have a Pilates ball. We recommend that you check with your instructor to find out what the requirements are.

You can also bring a water bottle. You probably won't drink as much water as you do during an aerobic exercise, but you need to be well hydrated before or after the class.

What To Wear?
Most Pilates studios are casual, but the standards vary. Keep your clothes simple (at least initially) and find the one that suits you best. Here are some tips on how to dress to succeed in Pilates.

Avoid tie-backs or belts. This can be uncomfortable when lying down on your back. Ties, belts, drawstring purses, tassels, etc. may get caught in the springs of the reformer and cause injury.

Avoid workout clothes with embellishments. Choose a training wear without metal or plastic ornaments. Zippers, buckles, clasps, buttons, or other adornments can cause serious damage to upholstered Pilates equipment.
Avoid wearing accessories or jewelry. Long necklaces, belts, and hanging bracelets can be both distracting and dangerous when caught in equipment.
Skip the shoes. You can either be barefoot or wear socks during the session - no lavish footwear needed. If you like to wear socks, buy yourself a pair with non-slip or rubber soles so you don’t slip.

If you have long hair, be sure to tie it behind and keep it out of your face.
Choose a training wear that is stretchy and not loose-fitting. Capri pants and leggings may be a better choice than shorts, which can ride up when you lie down and move your legs up.

What are the Dos and Don’ts?
Make sure to arrive on time. Being on time is demonstrating respect to the class and your instructor. Addionationally, arriving late interrupts the flow of a class and your body does not fully benefit from the sequence your instructor is building.

Don't interrupt the class before you. Please be respectful if classes are held when you arrive. Do not talk to other people or chat on the phone. Hold off warming up until the class before yours is over.

Let your instructor know of injuries ahead of time. It is important that your instructor knows your physical illness or injury before doing your first Pilates class. This allows the instructor to avoid giving you certain exercises that may exacerbate the problem or make things worse. If you have any concerns, don’t wait to be asked. Politely approach the instructor and let him know even before the class starts.

Don’t do movements that hurt your body. If the instructor asks you to do something that feels amiss, request a modification.

Modification requests are common and allowed. You'll find that some Pilates students move and exercise as instructed, while others do something different. For those who are injured or find it difficult or painful to perform certain exercises, a modification is ??provided for them to try. If you feel you need a modification, just ask.

Don’t chatter or think twice about talking during class. Avoid chatting too much, even if it is focused on sharing advice and tips. Because this can keep you (and others) from getting into the right mindset and lose focus on the exercise.
You must breathe. Your first class will focus on breathing. In Pilates, you need to breathe in a specific way. At first it may feel very strange to breathe in the way required, so you need to be familiar with it and practice.

Now that you are fully aware of what to expect, you can book for your first Pilates class at ease. Have fun!