What Should I Expect from Pilates Courses?

Kristin Wood

When taking Pilates courses, the students can typically expect to learn physical exercises, breathing exercises and mental exercises. These activities often promote core strength, awareness and flexibility. There are several kinds of Pilates courses, and many people can find one tailored to their needs regardless of age or fitness level. Some popular Pilates courses couple the traditional approach with other fitness styles, such as cardio Pilates or a mix of yoga and Pilates called yogalates. Details about what the student should expect could depend on the kind of class she chooses.

A woman doing pilates.
A woman doing pilates.

Pilates students might want to avoid clothing that is too tight or too baggy. This will give her the ability to move and stretch comfortably and enable the instructor to view whether her body is doing the moves properly. The Pilates trainer usually needs to have a good view of his students while he checks their position and bone alignment. T-shirts that fit too loosely could compromise this aspect of the course. Baggy clothing might also slide up during some of the stretches and exercises.

Along with shopping for appropriate Pilates clothing, some students also might buy their own mats. Beginning Pilates courses might focus on simple mat exercises. Many Pilates courses will provide mats for everyone, but some students feel more comfortable using the same mat in class as at home.

The Pilates instructor will usually talk about the principles of Pilates. These principles might include centering, control, breath and concentration. Some instructors might introduce a different number of principles, but most Pilates courses will teach to a similar list. While centering, the teacher might refer to the powerhouse of the body. This area consists of the space between the ribs and the pelvic bone. Pilates exercises seek to build core strength in this area.

Pilates also teaches breathing exercises to promote awareness of the body's movements and functions. Instructors typically expect each exercise to be done with steady concentration and a firm control over each part of the body. Instructors might also ask students to move from one position to another with a graceful and steady flow.

As classes advance, the students usually begin to utilize Pilates apparatuses. There are several kinds of Pilates machines. One of the most popular contraptions is called the reformer. Beginners typically start off with this machine. It uses resistance to improve flexibility, develop good alignment, and build core strength.

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