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  • Jon Hawkins

Your First Pilates Lesson

Updated: Apr 9



Well done, you have booked your fist Pilates lesson and must be counting down the minutes in excited trepidation until you can walk through the studio doors and get stuck in!

Joking aside, many people will be nervous about what the lesson will involve and what will be expected of them. So this blog is all about putting your mind at rest.

Before you get to the studio you will need to choose clothes to work out in. My main rule is that leggings or shorts etc. can not have any zips as these can scratch and tear the vinyl on the apparatus. Generally your clothes should not be too baggy so I can assess your posture and alignment throughout the lesson. My current floor is wooden, so I would highly advise having some socks with rubber grips.

Before the lesson starts I will have asked you to fill out an online form that will tell me about your goals and if you have any injuries or conditions that I need to be aware of. So after you arrive, before the lesson gets going there may be some information from that form that we need to discuss. You will also be given a brief tour of the Pilates equipment in the studio and some of the things you need to be aware of in order to use it safely.

We will get you on the equipment and moving as soon as possible. The early exercises are all about building a base of stability and are very simple, each exercise building on the skills gained in the previous one. You will get as much help as you need but initially not a lot of corrections as in the early days it’s easy to overload a client with too much. It can be confusing and demotivating, you don’t want to walk out of your first lesson feeling that you have “Done it all wrong.”

After learning a few foundational movements you will more than likely start your lesson on the Reformer. It’s easily one of the most recognisable pieces of Pilates equipment. The reformer puts your body inside a visual framework from where the teacher can observe your dynamic alignment as you move. You will work through a series of exercises on the reformer and then a short sequence on the Mat.

Here is a time lapse of the basic Reformer exercises.


Don’t worry if any of these look unachievable for you. This is the ideal you are building up to, every exercise has breakdowns to help you work towards this goal.

Hopefully there will be enough time to add a couple of exercises on the other pieces of equipment in the studio. These will be tailored more specifically to your needs, based on the observation of how you have moved in the previous exercises.

Perhaps you got stuck doing the Roll Up exercise on the Mat, you will be taken to the Cadillac where you can do the same exercise with the support of the springs to help you build the strength to do it on your own on the Mat.

Perhaps your chest is tight and closed and this prevents you from curling your head and shoulders up off the Mat or the Reformer. You will be taken to the smaller barrels where the chest will be opened and stretched.

Perhaps the your ankles are very mobile and you are sinking into them rather than lifting out of them. You can be taken to the 2x4 Board or the Foot Corrector to learn how to stabilise that ankle.

As you can see there are various possibilities and this is where the lesson really starts to be tailored to your needs.

It might sound daunting that you are going to be so closely observed. Don’t worry! You are a beginner. The lessons are NOT about being perfect. As I said initially you will not be getting too many corrections. Far more information will be gleaned from seeing how you move naturally. No one is expecting you to be perfect and you certainly won’t be judged. When the time is right you will get more corrections as the other side of the equation is I don’t want you to develop bad habits in the early exercises, as they are the foundations for everything that follows.

All I ask is that you try your best. My belief is that every body has the potential to move better with the right selection of exercises and diligent practice.

That means I will ask you before your next lesson to practice the first couple of exercises from your mat sequence a couple of times at home. Like anything else you get better at Pilates the more you do it. The next lesson you will be going through the basic reformer and mat sequence again and each time I will ask to add another mat exercise to your practice at home. Very quickly you will have a home routine that you will be able to run through in a few minutes. This will really help you build a base to progress through the exercises. You’ll soon be moving much better than you had previously thought possible.

Above all I want you to have fun. Its fine to laugh at yourself and you will probably be laughing at me quite a lot, when you are not shooting daggers at me:

“You want me to do what?”

Remember laughing is an abdominal exercise.

I’ll look forward to seeing you soon!

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