Preparing for Your First Pilates Class – Here’s What to Expect
If you are a Pilates newbie, you will not be entirely sure what is awaiting you. Sure, you have your outfit ready and you have committed to a season of mat Pilates, but you need some tips on how to make the most of your first Pilates class!
Hydration is key
Even though a Pilates class is not high impact, it is still very intense and it is possible to dehydrate quite significantly during your exercises. It is very important that you keep your level of hydration up and that you take regular sips during the exertion period, rather than waiting until class is over before drinking. Keep your water bottle at hand and sip, sip, sip! Also ensure that you well hydrated before the class and learn to drink water during the day, even on the days that you are not exercising.
Cut the coffee
Everybody knows that coffee gives us an energy boost, but it has been shown to actually weaken the muscles, which is not ideal during a Pilates class. Caffeine also has diuretic properties, which means that you may end up flushing badly needed hydration from your body. So, instead of heading for the espresso machine for an energy boost before your class, rather have a refreshing cup of green tea – the antioxidants are good for your body and may energise you even better than coffee.
A great part of Pilates focuses on breathing, and it is very likely that the instructor will emphasise this during exercises. Listen to these instructions and breathe out and in at the correct times. This will make your movements and exercises more efficient and effective. Focus on your breathing and avoid holding your breath during any exercise – this will starve your muscles from oxygen and your exercises won’t be as effective as they should be.
Find your navel and your spine
One of the first things you will learn in Pilates class is the “navel to spine” concept. This means that your standard operating posture will require you to draw your navel towards your spine in all the exercises, and this strengthens abdominals and core muscles. Keep your navel engaged with your spine at all times, and this will help to improve your posture, especially if you suffer from backache.
Learn to stretch
After your class you may just want to lie on your mat to relax, but it is vital to stretch during this time. Here a counter-stretch is used to promote the lengthening of muscles and to increase flexibility. This means that you will achieve more elongated and toned muscles, instead of building bulk.
After class you may be tired, but it is important to take some time out to relax your body and your mind. Treat a tired body with a hot bath containing Epsom salts and some lavender essential oil, and you will sleep like a baby!
Keep at it
It’s not all going to fall into place after the first Pilates class! You have to keep at it. Work regular sessions into your schedule for the best results and keep at it! You will be able to feel the benefits of your exercises before you can see them, and it is all worth it!