After a few weeks of debating, I decided to take the plunge and registered for my first Pilates class at my local gym. Why Pilates? Well, I wanted to incorporate some strength work and stretching into my weekly workouts, and was also told that the breathing techniques could be beneficial (I struggle with breathing when I run), and as such I had been considering attending a class for a while, but was a bit apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect and was nervous about being “the new girl”.
I arrived early as I wasn’t sure where the class was being held, so I asked a staff member, who just happened to be the Pilates teacher, and she walked me down to the fitness suite. I told her that I had never done Pilates or a gym class before, and she explained that there are modifications to the exercises if I struggle with any, and asked if I had any injuries, to which I replied no. We had to wait a few minutes for another class to finish before we could enter the fitness suite, and by this time a few other members were starting to gather. I asked two of them a bit about the class and if they attend regularly; it turns out that I was the only person who hadn’t attended a Pilates class before, but one woman was new to this particular class. They told me about other Pilates classes which used Reformer machines and body balls, but explained that this class was all done on a mat using body weight exercises.
When we were let in, I was told to get a mat out of the cupboard, find myself a space to set up, and take my shoes off. We started off with simple warm up moves and stretches which lasted around 15 minutes – at this point, I wasn’t sure if Pilates was for me, but I decided to stick it out as I was already there. We then started working on our calves, hamstrings and glutes with a series of leg exercises which sounded, and looked, straightforward but caused my muscles to burn. There were two moves in particular that I found difficult: the first required me to stand with my legs spread wide and feet pointing outwards, then slowly lower into a squat like position whilst keeping my back straight, we would then deepen the squat and hold for a few seconds before returning to an upright position; the second had me lying down in table top position (lying on back with knees bent and legs outwards) and then raising my neck and shoulders whilst extending my right leg straight and then alternating between straightening one leg and bending the other – this caused burning in my abs and hamstrings and even caused my legs to start shaking! We ended the session with a 10 minute cool down period which involved a lot of stretching and rolling out different muscles. The instructor waited around at the end of the class in case anyone wanted to ask any questions.
All in all, I enjoyed my first class, and really had nothing to worry about beforehand. Everyone was friendly, the instructor kept an eye on my form throughout the class (corrected my posture on one occasion) and I left feeling like I’d had a good workout. It has also given me the confidence to look at trying a few other classes that are offered at my gym, such as Abs Blast, Body Balance and Body Pump.