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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.
Kyle House Fitness is Chattanooga’s premier fitness program offering group fitness classes and personal training with the best-certified instructors and trainers in the area. Located on Chattanooga’s thriving Southside, Kyle House Fitness is more than a gym, they pride themselves on building a welcoming and inclusive community. The owners of this gym, Kyle House and Kyle Miller (AKA The Kyles), may sound familiar to you since they recently wrote a blog post for us on how to be an LGBTQIA+ ally in the fitness space.
Since they happen to be one of the most influential duos in the fitness industry, we were eager to sit down and learn more about what wellness means to them. Ready to get to know The Kyles better? Let’s dive in.
We have always had a love for fitness. From an early age, we were both very athletic (swimming, gymnastics, and cheerleading). Once we graduated, we slowly transitioned into training young athletes and then later started working on our careers. Kyle House started personal training at a large gym and began building a solid career as a personal trainer and groups fitness instructor. Kyle Miller started working in marketing and communications ranging from politics, law enforcement, and tech becoming a leading public relations professional. After working in their fields for about 10 years they decided to combine their love of fitness with their experience and built one of the most successful fitness facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
During our time working at other gyms and visiting other facilities that many were either missing qualified and motivating trainers, topnotch customer service, or a workout that was balanced and would lead to results for everyone whether they were casual fitness enthusiasts or hardcore athletes. We are motivated on a day-to-day basis by the idea that we can always be better. The experience can get better, the community can grow stronger, and we can continue to show people that fitness is more than just a way to look good, it's therapy.
Wellness to us has always been about leading a life that is balanced. It's not all fitness, it's not all work, it's not all fun... it's not all healthy food, it's not just junk food—it's about finding a way to reach your own personal goals while still having a healthy relationship with fitness, friends, family, and food—otherwise known as the four Fs.
If you're in the Chattanooga area, you should definitely check out Kyle House Fitness to take your wellness routine to the next level. You can book classes on the Mindbody app or through their KHF app.