Since I began doing Pilates in my early twenties, I have noticed a DRASTIC change in my body, and equally dramatic change in my mindset toward maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle. This type of workout is different from most anything else I have experienced…in the best kind of way.
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In this article, I’ll discuss the 5 things Pilates beginners should know- a few ways to prepare yourself for the fun you are about to experience! I walked into my first class knowing little to nothing about Pilates, and it can be a smidgen intimidating when you are new to the workout, and know nothing about what to expect. So here we go!
1. Expect to Be Challenged
In fact, expect that you will likely reach your breaking point. Pilates is a difficult workout…and there are exercises that challenge each person to the max. A lot of the work is meant to engage the core, so if it’s been a while since you have really fired up your abs…get ready to feel the burn! If you are unsure about your physical ability, always consult a physician before beginning a workout.
There are many exercises that will isolate and work one particular muscle group. This has proven to be extremely effective for me, though sometimes I wasn’t very sure of myself. The exercises are intense, and if you are engaging your core the entire time as you are supposed to be, there is really no easy way to cheat. Which is actually good news, people. There will probably be moments when you feel as though you cannot hold a move one second longer, but you find out that you can, and you are able to activate a different set of muscles to stabilize yourself. Not only is this a very rewarding feeling, but it is also where the “change” happens.
If you are beginning at home, please be advised that you should be extra careful. When in a class, the instructor is there to guide your every step, and is at times the person that catches you if/when you fall out of a move. There is much balancing and whole body stability put into practice in a Pilates session, so take it slow the first couple of times. This is a workout that rarely involves speed, and sometimes the hard work is in the slow, steady motions.
2. Eyes on Your Own Paper
So, I don’t know how many of ya’ll are like me…but I would rather have been chubby and happy at home than attend a workout class. This was my mentality for a long time. I absolutely did not want anyone to see me struggle, or be half a beat behind everyone else that had been there for years, perfecting their practice.
I can’t believe I wasted so much time!! Ridiculous! I’m here to tell you that I walked into my first Pilates class and had no idea what I was in for..and I couldn’t have had more fun. Repeat after me: “No one is watching me. This is not a competition.”. Oh my heavens, no one could possibly be watching you with the exercises and movements that you’ve all got to do. Trust me, it’s a very supportive environment.
I quickly lost my inhibitions during that first class, and I was able to just throw myself into it. I have been a dedicated member of the class ever since. You just pay attention to you and your progress, and don’t worry about how far along anyone else is. If you stay focused, you will start to notice such drastic changes in your body and mindset, that you will soon be one of those people that the beginner admire.
3. Body/Mind Connection
Once you have gotten into your groove with Pilates, you will begin to notice that you are far more aware of your whole being. Standing in line at the grocery store, you’ll silently scold yourself, telling yourself to get that pelvic tilt and stand up straighter. Driving down the road you will remind yourself to zip up your core and use the core muscles to turn the steering wheel. While tossing the laundry from the washer into the dryer, you will automatically pull your belly button in, keep a flat back, and engage your middle to do the work.
It is amazing the difference it makes. Engaging the core to take on the bulk of some everyday activities gives your back and limbs a much deserved break, and all the while you are gaining ab strength and lengthening the muscles. It’s a win-win situation, really. The practice and motions that you repeatedly run through in Pilates begins to become ingrained in your mind, and before you know it you are subconsciously walking more upright, pulling everything in, and looking and feeling better every day!
4. Wear Modest Clothing
Um, to put it mildly, sometimes one can find them self in a “compromising” situation in Pilates. There are exercises in which you are lying flat on your back and your legs are in the air. Now, if everyone is minding their own business there shouldn’t be a problem. But just to be on the safe side, I would highly recommend sticking with very stretchy workout pants…not shorts. And a tight-fitting top.
Loose fitting clothes are not the safest, as there are tools that are used that clothes can get caught up in. And shorts can be a little revealing for some of the movements being performed. Contrary to popular belief, child bearing does not strip you of all of your modesty. There are mirrors in my Pilates studio..and I’ll just leave it at that.
5. Above All, Persevere.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Rome wasn’t built in a day, dahling. This is by far one of the most rewarding workout programs that I have ever engaged in, but it takes showing up and consistent hard work to achieve the goals you have set for yourself.
Always challenge yourself. If you think you can’t do something..prove yourself wrong. Especially if you have an instructor there to guide you through it. I have done exercises I never thought I could do; all it takes is a little practice and perseverance. You’ve taken a big step already just by seriously considering participating in Pilates, so now all you’ve got to do is get started. Once you start to notice the small changes, you won’t be able to quit!! So I wish you the best as you begin this incredible journey toward your best you!
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