8 Things to Know Before You Take Your First Pilates Class

But if your muscles are feeling it, don’t fret: While next-day soreness may be at a whole new level after your first week, your body will get more used to the movements with time. Being sore the next day just means you’re challenging your muscles in new ways or working muscle groups that don’t usually get much attention—it’s not something you should “chase,” or the marker of a successful workout.

5. There’s some lingo involved.

Every workout from barre to CrossFit has its own set of terminology, Pilates included.

“I love the language of Pilates, and a great teacher will use cues in a way that brings your anatomy and movements to life,” says Estrade. “The connection of hearing the words, visualizing the exercise, and performing it can be transformative and inspiring—and like learning any new language, there is always lingo.”

For Pilates, know that your powerhouse refers to the center of your body, where all of your power comes from to execute movement. Peel through your spine means slow movement from vertebra to vertebra. You’re also likely to hear certain instructional phrases. “Cradle your head in your hands” allows your cervical spine to be supported in your arms. “Tuck your chin toward your chest” helps you to initiate your deep abdominal muscles and take your head and neck out of the equation. And finally, “Slide your shoulder blades down,” will help lengthen your back by opening up your shoulders.

Don’t fret over all these new phrases, though: You’ll get used to them with time.

6. The right clothes can make you more comfortable.

Even if you typically prefer loose-fitting workout wear, you may want to try more body-hugging options for Pilates classes. “This way, the instructor can see your movements better and your clothes don’t get caught in springs or other equipment,” Carrie Samper, national Pilates training manager at Equinox, tells SELF. Capris or leggings may be a better option than shorts, which can ride up during the moves where you’re lying down and moving your legs above you, she says.

As for footwear, you can either be barefoot or wear socks for your session. Most studios have their own suggested protocol. Find it on the studio’s website, ask the front desk when you check in for your class, or call beforehand so you know before you get there.

If you’re going to go for socks, find yourself a pair with rubber detailing on the soles so you don’t slip on the mat or machine. A barefoot or socks-only approach will also help you navigate in and out of the straps on a standard reformer with ease.

7. Pilates should be a part of a well-rounded workout routine.

Even if a studio offers unlimited classes for the first week—or if you have unlimited access to them on your app—don’t plan on hopping into a class every day. Your body needs a day or two to recover from fatiguing resistance exercise such as Pilates.

“Pilates stretches, strengthens, and aligns your body all at the same time,” says Samper. “With that said, it also complements every other fitness endeavor because it prepares your body to move better in every way. Adding it into your routine will help you lift heavier weights, run faster, swim with better form, or even achieve that elusive arm balance in yoga.”

Just don’t go overboard with Pilates, though—even if you fall in love with it, resist the urge to make it your only exercise. Cross-training (like taking the time to run or weight train, in addition to Pilates) is important, no matter which exercise modality you consider your main type.

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