I had a conversation with someone only this morning where we discussed the courage it took for her to come along to her first Pilates class. She had just finished bowel cancer treatment, her hair was growing back and life was returning to normal but her confidence was at an all time low. She had every reason not to come but she pushed herself through the door with the love and support of her family and now 18 months on I see her twice a week! Pilates has transformed her life giving her a twice-weekly diary commitment that she has to get to, a way of feeling back in touch with her body after 12 months of chemo and an opportunity to clear her head and focus on the “now” for 2 hours a week.

But not everyone has such extreme circumstances. For some they just feel daunted by the unknown and that’s ok too! I hope the tips below will help to give you an insight into what to expect from your classes.

1 – Arrive with a smile

I talk a lot about how “friendly” my class are in the hope that it will encourage people to be brave and come along, but what does that really mean? Well, you can expect a big smile and welcome from me at the door. Yes that might hint to other people that you are new but it also encourages people to welcome each other. We’ve all been the new person in class and it’s so nice when we acknowledge each others presence.

2 – Arrive early

If it’s your first class, it’s a good idea to arrive a minute or two early to chat to your teacher so that they can let you know any relevant info before the class gets going particularly if you’ve had no contact prior to the class – with me this would all be done over email at the point of booking. Please do tell the teacher of any injuries, issues, reasons for doing the class at the start, it’s so important that they have all the relevant information so that they don’t ask you to do anything unsuitable. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve not been told about fairly significant injuries until weeks down the line!

3 – Expect adjustment

When it comes to positioning your mat most people head straight for the back of the room and that’s fine, Pilates classes should be small enough that the teacher can see you from anywhere in the room! During the class some teachers might come round and adjust you manually, others will just look and verbally cue, whichever your teacher does please rest assured we are not looking at you in judgement but just checking that you are moving well, understanding instructions and in good alignment. It’s all in the detail with Pilates so we will be eyes-on to ensure you get the most from your hour!

4 – Breath normally

Many new starters get thrown by the Pilates breath cycles which can be confusing and most importantly, distracting! My advice in the early days is to ignore the specific breathing techniques. Concentrate on the choreography and the images/cues that your teacher is giving. The breath cycles will become second nature eventually but don’t get hung up on them at the start.

5 – All the gear…

Finally, what do you wear? Gym style clothing is best but please nothing too baggy, we need to see your body and how it moves which is hard in very loose clothing.

To this day I’ve not put my finger on exactly why I love Pilates, I can only say that I feel much better mentally and physically after an hours class – standing taller, moving more easily and feeling lighter! Us teachers love to welcome new members to our classes to bring more people into the wonderful world of Pilates so please don’t delay any more, find yourself a class today!