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woman on a reformer in pilates
Published Monday Jul 12, 2021 by Denise Prichard

Thinking About Trying Out a Reformer Pilates Class? Here’s What You Need to Know

Expert Advice

Welcome back to what can only be described as my world tour of different types of workout classes. What can I say? Once fitness studios started offering in-person experiences, I kind of went wild.

If you’re familiar with some of my previous posts, then you are well aware that I am an avid gym-goer. Before the pandemic hit, I was hitting a spin class seven days a week and sprinkling in some yoga sessions here and there. However, when my fitness studio went on lockdown, finding a stationary bike was next to impossible—I think I had a better chance at hitting the lottery in all honesty. So, while we were forced to work out from home, I decided to supplement my normal routine with fitness classes that needed little-to-no equipment like virtual barre and meditation.  

But as things started to open back up, I was eager to get back to those classes that you really can’t replicate at home—like spin and one of my new obsessions—reformer Pilates. I must admit, my first reformer Pilates class was a very humbling experience for me. As a yoga instructor and someone who has done a mat Pilates class a handful of times, I really thought I was going to crush this workout. Boy was I wrong.  

Pilates classes focus on utilizing the entire body to improve strength and flexibility—but reformer Pilates adds a new element to the practice by incorporating a machine that adds resistance and takes certain poses to a whole other level.  

If you’re new to reformer Pilates, my best piece of advice is to let go of the idea that it will be a slow, easy workout. That couldn't be further from the truth. You will sweat. You will shake. And you will quickly start to realize that this type of workout taps into muscles you didn’t even know existed.  

I realize I might be starting to terrify you. But I assure you that reformer Pilates is great for beginners and totally open to all levels of experience—but it might be helpful for you to know a few things before walking into your first class. 

First time at the studio? Check for intro offers  

Who doesn’t love a good deal? If it’s your first time at a reformer Pilates studio, check to see if they have an intro offer for new students. Lots of studios have deals to encourage customers to check out what their studio has to offer for a very reasonable drop-in price. So, before you sign up, make sure you check for local intro offers to save a little bit of moolah before committing to a studio.  

Leave your mat at home (or in the trunk of your car) 

While you may be familiar with mat Pilates since it is a class offered at most gyms, you will not be rolling out your mat for this type of class. You’ll be doing most of the moves on a Pilates reformer, which is a machine that has a carriage that moves back and forth along a track. This carriage is connected to springs that provide resistance as you move in and out of the different exercises. The amount of resistance you use is up to you, but any degree of resistance will make your workout much more intense than your typical mat Pilates class.  

What you wear matters 

In my opinion, the tighter your clothes fit, the better. A good rule of thumb for any reformer Pilates class is to wear what you would typically wear to a yoga class—pants that have a snug fit and a top/sports bra that is supportive as you move in and out of poses. I would also recommend avoiding wearing shorts—you’ll be twisting in and out of exercises and won’t really have much control over wardrobe malfunctions if you know what I mean. 

Socks and gloves will be your new besties 

For reformer Pilates, you'll want socks and gloves that absorb sweat and have good traction. Unlike in yoga or mat Pilates where you can purchase a mat that absorbs sweat to prevent you from slipping and sliding, you don’t have control over the material that covers the carriage. And trust me, your palms and feet will get very sweaty which can make you feel unstable in certain exercises, so please heed my advice. Many fitness stores and sites online are now selling socks with grips on the bottom, which are ideal for reformer Pilates. Your studio might sell them on their website as well. 

Each spring represents a different amount of resistance 

If the reformer machine has you worried, fear not. During the first few minutes of class, the instructor will go over how the machine works and will fill you in on the resistance strings. At the studio where I go, Reformed Pilates in uptown Phoenix, the reformers have yellow, blue, and red springs—yellow is light, blue is medium, and red is heavy. You are in complete control of how much resistance you use, and you can even mix and match colors if one feels too heavy or too light. Most of the time, the instructor will give you guidance on which color resistance springs you should use to help take some of the guesswork out of your selections.  

Your wrists may take a beating 

Like yoga, the exercises in both mat and reformer Pilates focus on a lot of the smaller, less commonly used muscles in your body, like your wrists. Most moves require you to balance on your hands, which isn’t a position many find themselves in very often unless you frequent a vinyasa yoga studio or plank it out in the gym every day. It’s a safe bet that your first couple of reformer classes will make your wrists sore. If this happens, take a break and shake those wrists out until you’re ready to get back into the exercises.

Fuel yourself before and after class  

Having a solid pre-workout and post-workout meal is a must when taking any workout class. I personally can’t eat too much before a workout—especially if it’s an early morning class—so I stick to something simple that gives my body the carbs it needs to get through the class like a banana. And after class I like to drink a protein shake to help my muscles recover—trust me, they are going to need it.   

Baby those muscles the second you get home 

A reformer Pilates class is a pretty difficult workout from start to finish. By the time the cooldown comes, you’ve stretched your muscles so much that you would be willing to bet anybody that you can do the splits—even after your first class. Do not let this airiness you feel deceive you—your muscles will be screaming the next day if you don’t practice self-care immediately.  To decrease your chances of getting super sore, you need to either stretch at home, take a bath infused with Epsom salt—or ideally do both. Releasing your muscles will not only ease your body for the next day, but it will also help you gain more flexibility. 

Don’t let the soreness prevent you from going back 

As somebody who works out A LOT, I can definitely appreciate a rest day. However, the day after your first reformer Pilates class is not the time to binge on your latest Netflix obsession. Like I said above, you’re going to be pretty sore after class, so it's easy to talk yourself out of working out. This is surprisingly the most important day to go back. If you work out on the second day, you will push through your soreness and feel so much better—I promise! 

Ready to try Pilates? Book a Pilates class on Mindbody.

denise prichard
Written by
Denise Prichard
Marketing Content Specialist
About the author
Denise Prichard is a certified yoga instructor (RYT-200) and an experienced content marketing professional with a penchant for writing compelling copy within the health, wellness and beauty industries. When she isn't writing or editing, you can find her teaching yoga classes, at a spin class or hanging out with her rescue pups.
people in upward dog practicing yoga on mats
Published Wednesday Jul 28, 2021 by Bree Lewis

Sweat Redemption: 5 Tips for Getting Back Into Your Hot Yoga Practice

Expert Advice

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.

1. Go at your own pace

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!

2. Hydrate like your life depends on it (honestly, it might)

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!  

3. Nourish your body

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.

4. Replenish those electrolytes

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.

5. Bring the right equipment

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.

bree lewis headshot
Written by
Bree Lewis
Marketing Content Associate
About the author
Born and raised in a small mountain town just south of Yosemite National Park, Bree is an avid lover of health, wellness, and connecting to the outside world around us. As a Cal Poly English major alumn, she has a knack for books, writing, and all things words. In her free time, she enjoys being outside, drinking craft beers, and keeping life jazzy!