How virtual classes form lasting connections
Download the app
Fitness memberships, workout classes, wellness services, beauty appointments and more.
If you’re like just about everyone I know right now, all this time at home has you wondering how you’ll keep up with your workout while your favorite gyms, yoga studios, and other exercise emporiums are temporarily closed. And if you take a step back, turn inwards, you might just realize that this might be the perfect time to consider a new type of workout—an exercise that you were always too intimidated to try. Maybe one that tests your abs, puts your core to work, gets your body into a posture you've never even considered, and teaches you how to inhale and exhale through anything...
For me, Pilates is that workout. At a skinny 6’4”, I’d given up hope that I’ll ever touch my toes, “muscle” isn’t really a word people use when describing me, and double-leg stretches sound more like something I'd do before getting out of bed instead of part of a home workout—so learning about Pilates exercises gives me a newfound sense that those goals are actually achievable.
Beginners like me often pronounce it wrong (typically, a variation of “pirates”), and at first glance, the exercise equipment looks like medieval torture devices more apt to draw and quarter me than whip me into shape. (Editor's note: I will confirm this as that is how it appears to me as well.)
The Pilates method doesn’t date back to the Middle Ages, but it is an older methodology, practiced for more than 100 years since its founding by Joseph (you guessed it) Pilates. He called it “Contrology” to denote controlled movements that, when performed properly, can do wonders for your flexibility, tone and build muscle, strengthen inhale and exhale practices, improve core strength, balance, and endurance, and assist with proper posture. It’s now taught and practiced across the globe, with instructors devoting over 500 hours to their certification.
The family of Pilates styles features two main methodologies:
Classical preserves the original method invented by Joseph Pilates—the traditional repertoire, sequencing, and equipment progression. For the purists out there, this is THE way that Pilates was meant to be taught.
Contemporary blends Classical with other disciplines like yoga and fitness training, incorporating modern Pilates equipment as well as props such as foam rollers and balls. This system operates from a thorough understanding of the traditional repertoire of the classical system, supplemented with a modern-day understanding of kinesiology and often more creative, less regimented, forms of movement. As a veteran instructor I know put it, “Think jazz improv rooted in classical music understanding.”
Both Classical and Contemporary Pilates incorporate specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Tower, Cadillac, Arc Barrel, and Wunda Chair. But don’t call them machines! Seasoned Pilates aficionados refer to them as “apparatus,” the term Pilates himself used to describe the unique equipment Pilates requires.
Which style you choose is up to you, but the overall goal is the same: core and abs strength, spinal flexibility, balance, and generally improved health for your entire body and mind.
You don’t need a Pilates Reformer to build abdominal muscles and improve your breathing techniques from your living room, but if you’re new to the discipline, having some expert instruction can go a long way toward making sure you’re doing it right and avoiding injury while getting the core-strengthening exercise you want. Creative businesses are providing a slew of ways for their clients to keep up their fitness routines at home, and many offer video-on-demand and live-streaming classes. You can find them through the Mindbody app or on Mindbody.io—search for terms like “virtual,” “on-demand,” and “live stream.”
Seek out a studio and instructors that are BASI, STOTT, PMA, or otherwise certified, with a comprehensive 500 hour+ certification. They can introduce you to the repertoire in an informed and educated way, one where you can keep your body safe and supported as you come to learn the expansive nature of the system—some call it the “Pilates secret.” There are also lots of Pilates fusion classes out there, which may be a great place to start if you have a yoga background—these classes focus on simpler movements. For those, you'd look for instructors with an AFAA or NASM certification and a Pilates specialization.
You’ll probably need a few key props to start practicing these core exercises at home, such as a mat (usually thicker and larger than a yoga mat), a few light weights, and some resistance bands. As you grow into your practice, you may graduate to more specialized pieces like the magic circle (an exercise ring made of flexible metal or rubber). Also important for Pilates exercises is an open mind, a deep inhale, a fluid exhale, and of course, your glutes.
Grab your props and pull up a video from one of the Pilates studios on the app, or sign up for a live streaming class—and before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home. With well-educated instructors that are skilled in teaching mat work (the most advanced form of Pilates), you can start to break down the basic principles of the Pilates system.
Before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home.
Trying a new workout at home can be ideal because it builds your confidence and gives you a chance to get the hang of it before showing up to an in-person class. Because, let’s face it—not all of us want to be the fresh face in class, mistaking a Reformer for a rowing machine.
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.