Thursday, July 18, 2019

Answers to the Questions Everyone is Asking Me About Reformer Pilates

Answers to the Questions Everyone is Asking Me About Reformer Pilates
* This post contains affiliate marketing links.

I started going to reformer Pilates classes over a month ago and it's made such a difference in my life in such a short period of time. Firstly, I really enjoy it, so it's great to finally have a workout option that I never dread and always look forward to. Additionally, I'm not so cocky as to think I'm good at it, but I don't feel like I'm struggling with it all the time like I did with some other types of workouts or classes, so I always feel like I've accomplished something when I leave. (To read more about my struggles in this department, click here.) In just over a month, I can already tell a major difference in how I feel and I can see the slight changes in my body. Admittedly, I go a lot - about 5 or 6 times a week on average, but you definitely don't have to do that. My husband has been going only twice a week, but for a month or two longer than me and he's seen the same results and feels the improvement in his running since he began.

Since I started reformer Pilates I've had so many questions from so many friends and acquaintances, so I thought maybe I should share some of them here and answer them as best I can...

Pilates reformers and equipment

1.  Is it expensive?
In short, yes - it's not cheap. Reformer Pilates requires a rather big piece of equipment among a few other things and instructor attention is important, so the classes are usually quite small which means it's a bit more expensive than lots of other fitness options or classes. That said, it's not impossible to fund and if you're keen to try it, but not so keen on the price tag, there are a few ways to make it a bit cheaper.
  • Many studios offer intro classes for a reduced rate for newbies. Try signing up for one of these packages some of which are as cheap as 3 classes for £30 or 2 classes for £25.
  • Many studios offer package prices which significantly reduces the cost per class. For example, one class might be £30, but if you buy ten for £200 they are reduced to £20 each. That's £10 off each class.
  • Look for deals. My studio often has a deal on the go for packages which is how I started going so often when I bought a special Beach Body Package for the summer that reduced the classes to £12.50 each. Another studio my husband likes has a loyalty card which requires you to have an account you put money into in advance, but then reduces every class by £2. 
  • Classpass is an option for doing this more affordably. If you aren't familiar with Classpass, click here to read about my experience. One thing to be aware of is that classes are priced differently, so sometimes Pilates classes would be super cheap, while others were not very discounted at all when I did the math. If you're using this option and budget is an issue, you'll want to make sure you're getting the bang for your buck that you need to sustain it.
  • Some studios have monthly memberships that are the cheapest option if you plan to go several times a week on a regular basis.
Alternatively, there's always the option of just doing the amount you can afford or are happy to pay for. I know people who only go once or twice a month, I know others who go once a week, some who go a bit more often and others like me who go almost every day. Start with what works for you and increase it if and when you're ready. 

2. Isn't it just like yoga?
This is possibly the conversation I have the most. People say to me Oh, I do yoga and it's basically the same thing or I would join you at Pilates, but I don't really enjoy yoga. I'll admit, these conversations make me roll my eyes a bit. I can see why the might seem similar, but they are not the same thing at all in my opinion. Both are great for a number of similar things and you may hear some of the same terminology in your classes, but here's the kicker... I don't enjoy yoga either. Not even a little bit and believe me, I've tried. I get it, I see the benefits, but I don't enjoy it, so I never keep going and yet, I love reformer Pilates. They aren't the same, so one doesn't negate the other and not liking one doesn't mean you won't enjoy the other. In fact, I recently overheard some Pilates instructors talking about how they've started doing yoga on their time off for some added benefits... Not the same.

3. Do I need private tuition or can I join a class?
Before I started I was under the misconception that the only way to get a good experience on a reformer was to have private sessions. I'm sure they're extremely beneficial and to be honest, I really wish I could afford them on a regular basis, but I can't. Classes are great! I suggest attending beginner classes for a while first, even if you think you're super fit and should be more advanced. In my experience, the beginner classes at the studios I've been to are slower paced so you can get used to using the machine, they include introductions to the machine so you know how to use it and it's a good way to get a foundation for things like alignment and breath that become a bit more difficult to focus on as much when the pace picks up in more advanced classes. My general policy for myself is to take a beginner class for every new instructor I've never had if at all possible because they're all different and it helps to get an idea of what it will be like when I go to a harder, more fast-paced class.

4. But I prefer to sweat and work hard in my workouts?
I've heard this so many times and it makes me laugh. Of course it's not a crossfit class, but it's hardly a glorified nap either. I rarely ever leave my Pilates class without a sweaty red face. Of course every instructor is different, but my favourite ones make us work really hard. That's not to say that there aren't some people in the class that never break a sweat, but it's one of those things where you can generally work as hard as you want to. Many instructors will give variations to make things a bit more challenging if you're up to it and of course some of it is up to you in terms of how much you'll rest and how many repetitions you'll do of the exercises. For me, most of the time I'm tired, wobbly, sweaty and worked up after a class.

5. Do I have to be barefoot?
Some instructors may ask you to be barefoot, but I haven't experienced that yet. I always wear my regular running socks and it's fine. Some studios may require you to have grippy socks if you're not barefoot, but I haven't experienced that either. In short, there are options, so if you forgot to get your pedicure appointment booked in or hate being barefoot, don't worry.

Sweaty Betty carries several styles of grippy socks that are suitable for reformer Pilates classes. I've just ordered a couple of pairs which I haven't gotten yet, but they seem quite popular among the ladies in the classes I go to. Click the images below to shop directly.

6. What do I wear?
You can pretty much wear what you'd wear to the gym normally, but there are a few things you might not want to wear. I wouldn't suggest shorts unless they're tight fitting around the thigh. Sometimes the instructors will come around while your legs are in the air and you might not want to flash all your business. Also, you may want to wear kit that's tight fitting or at least form fitting so you can see your alignment and so it doesn't ride up when you're doing moves that take you upside down. I normally wear a pair of running leggings, a sports bra and a slightly fitted workout top or t-shirt with socks. I also find a headband beneficial most of the time for keeping my hair out of my face.

7. Can I do it with my injury?
I suppose this depends, but the answer is probably. Reformer Pilates is actually used for rehabilitating many injuries, so it might be the best thing for you. In my classes there are always people with injuries. I think the best course of action is to ask an instructor before you begin and to make sure you tell every teacher at the beginning of your classes so they can make adjustments to the program for you if they need to.

8. What's it good for?
Everyone seems to know that Pilates is great for your core strength, but many people I've spoken to don't know what else it's good for like flexibility, alignment, long, strong & lean muscles, toning, mobility, injury rehabilitation, posture and probably a good 10,000 other things.

9. Who is it good for?
I'm pretty sure the answer to this one is... Everybody! One of the things I love about my classes is the variety of people who attend. I've been next to a 9 month pregnant woman on one side and an elderly woman on the other. People of all ages, athletes, dancers, new mums, fitness fanatics or those who are new to fitness... Pilates seems to be good for everyone, but obviously you should ask your doctor if it's right for you - I'm not a professional.

10. Is it fun?
Funny enough, I didn't think it would be, but it is! Some instructors will be more fun than others, but in general, most of the teachers I go to play fun music and find a way to make it fun whether they have great senses of humour or keep you interested in other ways. I am also someone who gets bored easily with workouts, but the constant switching of positions keeps me entertained and the challenge is always exciting when you get something new or slightly awkward to do.

Hopefully, if you had questions about what a reformer Pilates class would be like, you found this information helpful, but if there's something you'd like to know that I didn't answer, feel free to leave me a comment below or come over to my Instagram and ask me there. I'll try to answer any questions you have as best I can.

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