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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To say the last year and a half was tough would be an understatement. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most difficult times for our modern generation. In one of the many social polls we conducted during the pandemic, some of you described this time as a sheer “dumpster fire” or “like stepping on a Lego.” And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.
Luckily, we’ve been able to get back to some form of normalcy in our lives and wellness routines over the last several months. As vaccines became available to the public, wellness businesses welcomed fitness fanatics, haircut seekers, and massage lovers back to in-person wellness experiences. And thank goodness for that—my roots and horrible posture from working from my bed were both getting wildly out of control. This girl needed a good massage and cupping session stat.
If there’s one thing we learned from the pandemic, it’s that our wellness routines are as personal as they are important. During shelter-at-home, those routines looked a bit different. For many, it meant taking a new approach to the “typical” wellness services we count on—I’m looking at you DIY haircuts, at-home waxing sessions (ouch!), and virtual swerking classes.
Now that we can leave our humble abodes to take advantage of in-person experiences again, the word “wellness” has seemingly taken on a new meaning.
Recently, we conducted another one of our famous social polls to see what wellness means to you, our Mindbody community, now that we're slowly but surely getting back to our regularly scheduled programming. We also tapped some of our most influential Mindbody business owners about the ever-evolving wellness landscape.
Here’s what you all had to say.
According to our annual Mindbody Wellness Index, 60% of Americans say they’re more focused on their health and wellness since COVID. Consumers are now realizing they need to take greater care of themselves to optimize and preserve their health. When we asked you on Instagram how important wellness is, a whopping 98% said it was more important than ever. When it comes to how you’re practicing wellness, though, the answers were all over the board. Many of you pointed to journaling, practicing breathwork, and daily workout routines (cycling and yoga topped the list) as being the activities that help you keep your chill throughout the week.
I’m also happy to report that over 50% said you tend to feel more blessed than stressed on a daily basis—which is more than likely a big improvement. Let’s be honest, a year ago I would’ve bet a billion dollars that 99.9% of us knew no other feeling than anxiety—am I right? But even with the stress in our lives dwindling, many of you are still experiencing burnout at the end of a long work week (guilty!). But instead of succumbing to a bottle of wine for relief (please, that was so 2020), you’re unwinding by going to your favorite workout classes—with hot yoga, barre, and Pilates as your faves.
Let’s be honest, we should credit the business owners in this space for helping us reignite our spark when it comes to our wellness routines, right? Thanks to them, we’ve been inspired to prioritize the activities that help us feel our best. In turn, we thought it’d be interesting to learn what wellness means to them—and how that definition has changed over the past eighteen months.
Here’s what they had to say.
“Wellness is living in balance—mind, body, spirit. Highs and lows. It all ebbs and flows and we can navigate it a bit better when we take time to move, breath and remember who we are, and how we are connected to this big, beautiful world.” - Jess Pierno, Founder, Owner, and Chief Inspiration Officer of Yoga Heights
“Wellness is a true balancing of the mental, physical, and spiritual. It has definitely evolved over the years for me—from something that I just thought was about exercising and eating a healthy diet—to also incorporating balancing and healing internally and spiritually.” - Stefanie Patterson, Owner, Indianapolis Salt Cave and Halotherapy Center
“My sense of wellness has evolved from staying healthy and motivated, mind/body/spirit... to being more gentle with myself, less demanding. Accepting my limitations, taking time for resting, and gaining real clarity about what's important. I care less about what people think of me—difficult as a performer and as a business owner with so many demands on me—and more about getting quiet and tapping into the divine source inside of me that helps me discern my next move. In this way, I know my motives are as pure as possible and I'm not getting distracted—not that I don't make mistakes! Those are necessary, that's how we learn!” - Johanna Krynytzky, Owner, Hip Expressions Belly Dance Studio
“My studio name reminds us that we are constantly evolving. The past 18 months have certainly shown us that! Wellness to me means doing your best on any given day to make sure that you are taking care of yourself as best you can. It leads to resilience. Diet, exercise, sleep, a sense of community, and some form of faith. It all matters. Setbacks happen all the time, and every day is a chance to start again. We strive to be 'cheerleaders' for our clients when we sense that things are coming out of balance in their lives. So many have been with us for 18 years and are friends—they are our community and we all watch out for each other.” - Mo Wolfe, Owner and Founder, Evolution Pilates
I think we can all agree that there isn’t one true definition of wellness anymore. To some of us, it means getting that hot yoga sesh in daily, and to others, it means carving out time to treat ourselves to a massage or manicure. As long as you’re actively pursuing wellness—whatever that means to you—you're on the right track.
Our MO has always been about connecting the world to wellness—a term that's seen a lot of change lately. Whether you’re fully embracing the in-person experience or still delighted by the convenience of practicing at-home wellness, the Mindbody app makes it easy for you to book experiences that help you feel like YOU again.