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What You Should Know Before Your First Pilates Class

Updated: Apr 25, 2023

Every person has been in a position where they feel intimidated taking their first workout class. It’s hard to know what to expect from workout classes when it’s your first time. But here at CHI-SOCIETY, we’re here to help! Our knowledgeable and professional Pilates trainers and studios shared their expertise on everything you need to know before your first Pilates class!

Whether you are a pro, beginner, or have never even heard of Pilates, we got you covered! Don’t know what to expect from your first Pilates Class? From tips to general knowledge about Pilates, we put together a master guide to all things Pilates! Read below to learn more!

What Is Pilates? - Best Chicago Pilates


Over the past few years, Pilates has definitely grown and has become a leading workout routine for many and is offered in most gyms and studios. If you’ve never heard of or tried Pilates, you definitely should try it out!

Pilates is a method of mind-body exercise developed during the 1920s by a German physical trainer named Joseph Pilates. By definition, Pilates is a system of repetitive exercises performed on a mat or apparatus equipment to promote strength, stability, and flexibility. The technique cultivates awareness of the body to support everyday movements through the utilization of low-impact exercise. Pilates advocates core-strengthening benefits to promote improvement in posture, balance, and overall physical health. The Pilates technique also prioritizes quality over quantity. The idea is that an individual can achieve significant results by performing each exercise with focused precision.

Pilates can be customized to what the client needs. At its core, Pilates is a functional movement that focuses on alignment, posture, strength, mobility, precision, form, breathing, core, and the mind-body connection. It can be a workout, rehabilitation focus, strength focus, mobility focus, or pre/post natal. There are both body weight Mat classes, as well as equipment such as Reformer, Tower/Cadillac, Chair, Barrels, and small props.

CHI-SOCIETY is proud to partner with awesome Chicago Pilates studios and instructors — Amplified Pilates, Centered on North, Heat 3.0, Pilates + Coffee, and CLĀ by Lynne Alberding. Below, we list what these partnered studios offer!


As with any exercise class, Pilates (both on a mat or on the equipment/apparatus) begins with a gentle warm-up to help connect the mind and body in preparation for the workout. Exercises in the warm-up section of the class will promote mobility and activation of the muscular-skeletal system.

A well-structured Pilates class will cover :

  • All movements of the spine (flexion, extension, rotation, and lateral flexion)

  • Joint mobility and stability

  • Core- and muscle- strength

  • A cool down in preparation for the end of class, with more gentle movements focused on alignment

Overall, a traditional Pilates class is designed to deliver a full-body workout.


Preparing for your first Pilates class is crucial. By reading this article, you are one step closer to being prepared, but there’s still a lot to do beforehand! Here are the most crucial tips:

  1. Bring plenty of water to class! Being hydrated is key, as well so drinking water an hour before the class. This will allow you to go in hydrated as you're sweating it all out.

  2. Dress in athletic attire. Wear something that is stretchy and form-fitting!

  3. Practice stretching and/or rolling before class to feel extra comfortable and strong throughout the workout.

  4. Bring a positive attitude, be ready to learn, and have fun!

All studios run differently. Here’s what our partnered instructors say!

CLĀ by Lynne Alberding recommends the following for first-time Pilates students:

Individuals do not need to bring much to a class, as Pilates studios usually provide equipment for the workout. It is recommended to bring a water bottle to stay well-hydrated before, during, and after class.

Amplified Pilates shares this advice to help you prepare for your first Pilates class:

I always recommend asking the studio for any tips before your first session. Amplified sends out a welcome email with this information and we offer a 1st time discounted 50-minute private sessions for clients. The intro private is a great way to start with Pilates because the session is 100% tailored to your needs. Arrive early. Let instructors know of any injuries/pain or tightness past OR present. This is important so that the instructor can help you during class and you can get the most out of the class.


It’s happening — your first Pilates class is beginning! Expect to focus on small, controlled moves that align, tone, and lengthen the muscles in order to create a more balanced body.

Make sure to arrive early for your first class so you can get fully situated and ready for class. It’s important to arrive early so you can get properly set up – this is key to having an enjoyable and safe workout class!

Here’s what Lynne says:

Both mat and equipment Pilates classes focus on the concept of control, rather than cranking out endless reps or achieving muscle exhaustion. In Pilates, muscles are working against gravity, body weight, and resistance, with the ultimate goal of strengthening and isolating the right muscles. The goal should be to take your time with the exercises, focus on the task at hand, and connect to your breath.

Here’s what Amplified Pilates says:

Pilates can be a very different class for many and that's not a bad thing. During class move slowly and soak in the opportunity to connect the words your instructor is saying with your mind and then into your body. Try to move slowly allowing yourself to connect to the details.


You’re all done and you completed your first ever Pilates class! If you're relatively new to working out, you can expect some fatigue and soreness after your first Pilates class. You'll want to get enough to eat that day, a good night's sleep, and absolutely make sure to stay hydrated!

Lynne expresses:

After class, individuals will leave feeling energized and refreshed. Whether you went to a mat or equipment class, chances are every muscle in your body got a good workout. That becomes reason enough for muscles to be sore following a Pilates session. With dedication and consistent practice of functional movement patterns, muscles develop more evenly and balance out –- producing a long, lean, and healthy physic.

Amplified Pilates also recommends communication:

Amplified always follows up with clients after their first class to check-in. Don't be afraid to communicate if something was sore after the class if something hurt, what did you enjoy, or what were you yearning for more of. Communicate because Pilates can be adjusted and tailored to YOUR needs.


Pilates is an awesome workout to try and can quickly turn into your newest obsession. Here are some last few tips from our partnered instructor, Lynne, on Pilates classes!

“It can be daunting to walk into a Pilates studio for the first time. Rest assured that Pilates is suitable for all fitness levels and bodies. Beginners may also consider taking a private session before enrolling in a Pilates group class workout. Private sessions can introduce you to the Pilates method, offer insight into your own body, help prevent the possibility of injury, and provide familiarity with key fundamentals of the training — all of which will help you better maximize your workouts in a group setting.

5 More Tips on What to Wear to YOUR First Pilates Class*

  1. Avoid tie-backs or belts, as these style features can be uncomfortable when you're lying on your back. Additionally, stay clear of drawstrings or tassels as they can get caught in the springs of Pilates equipment/apparatus and cause injury.

  2. Choose workout wear that's free of embellishments, such as; metal or plastic adornments. Zippers, buckles, and buttons can severely damage the upholstered Pilates equipment.

  3. Opt for unscented beauty and hygiene products. Studios often request that clients refrain from wearing strong scents, as many people are sensitive to certain scents.

  4. Skip shoes, since Pilates is usually done barefoot. If you prefer some sort of foot coverage, purchase a pair of grip-bottom socks to ensure your feet don't slip.

  5. Think form-fitting over baggy. Choose workout attire that favors more stretchy material. Instructors need to see alignment and how muscles are engaging. The exercises both on the mat and equipment will vary in the range- and planes- of motion. Therefore, more form-fitting clothing will provide more overall comfort.

* All tips and expertise were provided by the Founder of CLĀ, Lynne Alberding, and Amplified Pilates Studio Founder and PSC Master Teacher Trainer, Angela Pawlicki.

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