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

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

Pilates
Expert Advice
Fitness

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.
surfer catching wave in ocean olympics
Fitness
Published Friday Jul 23, 2021 by Bailey Clark

Why I’m Stoked Surfing Will Debut in the Olympics

Fitness

For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.

This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal. 

You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.

As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.

The magic of surfing

Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.

The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.

A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.

The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.

The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.

Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.

Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th. 

Check out these surf classes on the Mindbody App

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About the author
Bailey Clark is a serial optimist whose passion for marketing lies within creating authentic connections to make the world happier and healthier. As a San Diego native, her favorite pastimes are surfing, F45, practicing yoga, meditation, and really any opportunity to soak up the sun.