What you should know before your first Pilates class - a word from your Pilates instructor

Written by: Sarah Gilbert


Healf Journal

Looking to inject some new energy into your fitness routine? Maybe Pilates is the missing piece to your fitness puzzle.

Whether you're considering rolling out your mat or hopping onto a reformer, there's a bit to uncover before you dive into your first class. Here's what your Pilates instructor wants you to know

Firstly, what are the different types of Pilates?
Pilates comes in various forms, but the two main types you'll come across are mat and reformer Pilates. Mat Pilates involves exercises performed on the floor using mainly your body weight for resistance, while reformer Pilates is done on a reformer bed; a machine with springs, a sliding carriage, ropes and pulleys that adds resistance and support. The beauty of the both is they increase strength, stamina, balance, coordination, muscle tone, prevents injury - the list goes on. And yes, everybody is welcome. 

Pilates is truly for everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or gender. Whether you're a seasoned athlete, regular gym goer or a first timer to Pilates, anyone and everyone can (and should!) give it a go. Each exercise has regressions and progressions, which means your class can be tailored to suit your personal goals.

What to expect 

Full-body burn:
forget the idea that Pilates is ‘just a stretch’. Get ready to feel the burn. Pilates is a full-body workout that targets muscles you didn't even know you had, and yes, you might be feeling it the next day. Even the most basic exercises can have you shaking and burning!

A reformer class can take this to a whole other level. When you add the resistance of the springs, add dumbbells for extra load, move your body across multiple planes and angles, you can build some serious strength and muscular endurance. What you can achieve on the reformer is incredible. Even after 4 years as an instructor, I’m still finding fresh exercises and learning new ways of using it to build my fitness. There’s never a dull moment.

What to Wear
Comfort is key when it comes to Pilates. I’d recommend wearing fitted and breathable tops/sports bras, leggings or shorts that won't ride up during exercises are perfect. Ultimately, choose clothing that makes you feel confident and allows you to focus on your movements without distraction. Some studios might also ask you to wear grippy socks - if you’ve got your own, perfect, if not, most studios will have them for sale on arrival.

Arrive Early
Give yourself a little extra time before class starts to familiarise yourself with the studio and fitness accessories. This is such an easy way to set yourself up for a good time in class. You can ask questions and settle into the space without feeling flustered and rushed.

Flexibility not required
Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be flexible to do Pilates. Pilates focuses on building strength and control through precise movements, making it accessible to people of all fitness levels and abilities.

It might not get easier, but you get stronger.
I hear a lot of people ask after their first few classes, does this get any easier? Truthfully, not really. The good news is that the more you do it, the stronger you’ll get and the more you’ll benefit from your classes. So whilst it may not feel ‘easy’, you’ll notice that you can hold exercises for longer, perform them with better technique and increase the exercise intensity by adjusting your spring choices. By progressively increasing the intensity, focusing on controlled movements, and varying exercises, you can effectively engage muscles and prompt them to adapt and grow stronger over time. What does this mean? it ensures continued progress, prevents plateauing, and ultimately leads to improved muscle tone, strength, and overall fitness. 

healf certified studios

Victus Soul Reformer

South East London

"Lottie's signature class combined weights and reformer, I felt the burn throughout and even more so the next day. Especially loved the perfectly placed motivational quotes on the floor to remind me to keep going" - Eleanor

Frame Reformer Class

Multiple London Location

"I love how I can attend a Frame Class anywhere in London! The energy is so high and I felt challenged" - Sarah

Studio Anatomy London

London Fields


"Absolutely love Studio Anatomy. The studio is beautiful and the instructors have a great variety of classes. I always leave feeling stronger and energised." - Karen


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. The views expressed in this article are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of healf