If you're a relative newcomer to the world of Pilates or even group exercise you might feel a little lost the very first time you attend a class. Don't worry though, everybody has to start somewhere and that's just one of the many beauties about the practice of Pilates - beginners, intermediates and experts alike are all welcome.
So, if you've found a class that's caught your eye, it's time to get yourself kitted out. The most natural place to start is clothing.
Ultimately, you want to feel comfortable in your choice of clothing and in your own skin. It is commonplace, however, for those taking part in Pilates classes to wear fitted clothing. The main reason being this will allow your instructor to assess your joint alignment and posture, essentially to make sure you're exercising in a safe and effective way. It'll also allow them to make any corrections or suggestions they feel would benefit you.
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It's usually the norm for participants in low impact group exercise classes, such as Pilates, not to wear shoes as these can hinder activity. Bare feet or socks are typical and this can actually help promote ankle stability and lower body proprioception.
Now, being barefoot isn't going to be for everyone. If that's the case then it's wise to invest in a decent pair of socks. In terms of what you should be looking for, you don't want anything too bulky that's going to make you sweat. Opt for a pair of non-slip socks that are not only going to feel comfortable but also wick away moisture.
An important note is that for hygiene and safety reasons, if you're taking part in a reformer Pilates class then it will be mandatory to wear socks.
With clothing essentials out of the way, it's time to move on to equipment. Your first port of call should be a mat. You want something that can accommodate your body in terms of its length and also provide padding and support. Nobody likes a smelly mat, so a consider a spray to keep things clean and fresh. If you're attending a Pilates class in a mainstream gym or health club, chances are mats will be provided for you, but if you've got a mat that's your own, you should take it along.
Another useful thing to consider is a block and this a versatile piece of equipment that be used to promote good posture during a Pilates class. Other types of commonly used equipment including resistance bands, foam rollers hand weights and Swiss balls.
If your instructor intends to incorporate these into a class, it's best practice for them to source these for participants themselves. It'll also save you lugging all that equipment about every time you visit your local gym. If you are keen to extend your Pilates practice into your own home however, then basic equipment would be a great investment.
Last but not least, we have those quality of life extras and accessories. Depending on how much equipment you plan on taking to your next Pilates class, you might want to invest in a decent gym bag.
You don't need us to tell you the importance of hydration, so make you have a water bottle to hand for you next class. Finally, you should consider getting a towel. Not only is it vital for hygiene but towels can also be used during a Pilates class in place of a block or headrest if one isn't available. They can also be used with supporting limbs during stretching activities, particularly for participants who are less flexible.