Thinking of starting Pilates? Our tips & answers to some common FAQ

Jun 17, 2017 | Pilates

Curious about yoga blog - Embody Wellness

Pilates is great!  Setting aside the American enthusiasm it has helped me to work pain free with scoliosis on the days I sit at a computer and has supported me in my dance career as well and the cross training I do swimming, running and my ‘Yoga-ing’.  It brings focus to your movement patterns, understanding of how your muscles activate, where you hold tension and how to release it.  Pilates is also incredibly efficient; by learning to use your muscles correctly you can quickly get strength in class and use this knowledge in any physical activity you do.

So what is Pilates?

Pilates is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility and improve overall health. It focuses on engaging the mind and body together to create exercises that involve the whole person. A low impact exercise, Pilates is great for people ages 10-100. In strengthening your core, improving balance, increasing coordination and decreasing stress, Pilates supports your body to move without pain in all aspects of life from sitting and running to shooting yourself out of a cannon!

What are the benefits of practising Pilates?

Among other things Pilates has been found to:

  • give you a stronger core
  • improve balance
  • increase coordination
  • decrease stress
  • promote better mind body connection
  • improve posture
  • give you better breath control

What can I expect from my first Pilates class?

Pilates classes at Embody are ‘mat based’ classes, so no crazy machines.  Some classes will use props in a gentle and easy way to help facilitate stretching and strengthening.  Classes will begin to bring greater awareness to your posture through targeted movements and coordinated breathing.

Like yoga there are many different styles of Pilates so we encourage you to try a few different classes and teachers.  It is encouraged to start with either our 5 week Beginners Course, as an introduction to the principles and exercises, or check out the Pilates Level 1 or Pilates Level 1 – 2 classes.

Do I need to bring a mat?

You are welcome to bring your own mat with you, but otherwise we provide all the equipment you need to get started including mats and ‘props’ like resistance rings and Pilates balls.

What should I wear?

All you need to do is wear comfortable clothes which you feel confident moving in, socks or bare feet are great. Perhaps avoid anything overly baggy as you may find that super-loose clothes ride up and get in the way once you start moving.  Also closer fitting clothing helps the instructor to see your movements better which can help them facilitate your posture more easily.

Is it safe to eat before Pilates?

We recommend you avoid heavy foods or substantial meals for the 1.5 / 2 hours leading up to your class. However, if you’re hungry a light snack such as a smoothie, handful of nuts or dates, or a banana is fine.

Some Common Pilates Myths Dispelled

Do I need to be flexible to join a Pilates class?

Absolutely not. Pilates helps to increase flexibility and mobility so if you feel yourself to be an ‘inflexible’ person then even more reason to do it!

Is Pilates just for young people?

Nope! Pilates works with your range of movement and strength.  It is often recommended by doctors, osteopaths and physios to help with postural, back, neck and shoulder pain, post pregnancy recovery and as cross training for many sports.   It is safe for those with scoliosis and osteoporosis. All classes strive to offer different options for the levels in the room and there are modifications that can be made to make each exercise pain free work for you.


What is the best way to start Pilates at Embody Wellness?

Beginner Level Classes

Our Pilates level 1 classes are suitable for beginners and run throughout the week and over weekends. Please see our timetable and pricing page for details and prices.

Beginners Courses

Embody also offers Beginners Pilates Courses which run consecutively for five weeks and are held on Thursday evenings between 7:30 pm and 8.45 pm. Please check our Pilates Courses page for details and for dates of the next course.

One-to-one Sessions

If you find the idea of joining a group class as a complete beginner intimidating or if you have a specific injury or medical condition that will benefit from closer observation by a teacher, then booking just one or two private sessions can help give you the confidence and knowledge to attend group sessions. Please see our One-to-One page or speak to reception for further details.

We hope that helps! If you have any questions at all about joining any of Pilates activities please call reception on 020 7099 0048 or drop in for a herbal tea and a chat with one of our friendly staff.

Originally from the States, Rebecca began training in her teens with a contemporary ballet company whilst struggling with scoliosis and asymmetry in the body. It was Pilates that allowed her to develop and maintain essential core strength and alignment, and after moving to London to train in contemporary dance at the Laban Centre in 2004 (and throughout her professional career since), Rebecca has continued her Pilates training and practice.

Rebecca undertook her Pilates teacher training with Nikki Chrysostomou at Balanced Body University. She carries her passion and knowledge for helping people move in alignment with strength and fluidity into her Pilates teaching, and takes great pleasure working with her students to develop technique and body awareness that can support them in every aspect of their lives and activities.


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