Preparing for Your First Class

Tatiana’s Pilates in Carpinteria, CA.
Lotus Newsletter, May 2009, Issue # 3

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Choosing a Pilates Instructor
I believe it is essential that you work with a comprehensively trained instructor, first privately and eventually (if you prefer) in a group class. Initial learning phase of up to 10 private classes requires the student’s mental focus and the teacher’s whole attention, all of which can be best accomplished one-on-one. You want to be sure that you not only receive instructions, but that your questions are fully answered. Depending on your health and other limitations you may also need modifications for some or all of the exercises. Pilates requires feedback on technique, form and body placement. The beauty of individual sessions will become apparent when you start to improve your posture and movement habits. With group instruction, you can’t expect the same quality personal attention for you to learn the technique.
What makes a good Pilates instructor? Is it the certificates hanging on the wall, long years of experience or a great personality? If you don’t have a good rapport with a teacher, all the credentials and referrals in the world won’t help. It will be smart to ask your potential Pilates teacher open-ended questions about how they got to where they are. But what criteria can you use to select a qualified instructor? Following are Pilates Method Alliance (PMA) guidelines.

1. How long has the instructor been teaching Pilates?
2. Is the instructor trained through a comprehensive training program?
3. Did that training program require a written and practical test, as well as lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours?
4. How many total hours were spent in the training program?
5. What are the instructors or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries or post rehabilitation?
6. Does the instructor have any other movement or fitness-related teaching experience?
7. Does the instructor or studio teach the full repertoire of Pilates on all pieces of apparatus?
8. Does the instructor or studio have the proper equipment?
9. Does the instructor or studio maintain a commitment to continuing education?

Before you sign up
When you walk into a Pilates studio for the first time, you may be surprised by a variety of odd-looking “Pilates machines” with names like Reformer, Cadillac and Wunda Chair. Despite unusual looks and names, all the springs, bars, straps, and pulleys come together as very refined, body-friendly exercise equipment. Soon you’ll learn and have fun exercising on this equipment.
Most studios allow clients to attend class on a “pay by the class” basis. I highly recommend that you do this for your first session or two before you know for sure you found a professional, client centered Pilates studio with friendly and knowledgeable staff and the right instructor.

What to bring to my first Pilates class?
You won’t need to bring much with you to the Pilates studio. Most studios usually provide mats, equipment, and props needed for the workout. Always make sure that you are well hydrated before you start. You will not be guzzling water, as some do during aerobic workouts, but you will still want to have a water bottle available.

What to wear for my first Pilates session?
When you dress for a Pilates workout, make sure your clothes give enough to let you move and stretch fully. Your instructor needs to be able to see the alignment of your bones and how your muscles are engaging. You want to avoid baggy clothes because some Pilates exercises could be a bit revealing if your clothes are too loose. You don’t need any footwear since Pilates is usually done barefoot.
There are many wonderful lines of Pilates clothes available now, but it is not necessary to buy special Pilates workout clothes right at the start. In fact, it’s better to keep it simple and see what you feel comfortable with as you go along. You should also avoid excess accessories while you are working out for safety reasons. Long necklaces, rings, belts, dangling bracelets and such could be distracting. Your hair needs to be out of the face, possibly tied back if it is long. Most studios request that clients refrain from wearing strong scents in the studio since many people are sensitive to perfumes and strongly scented deodorants.


Tatiana’s Pilates
Carpinteria, CA 93013 • 805.284.2840 •

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