We understand that you may be nervous when you turn up for your first reformer Pilates beginner class. Even if you’ve done Pilates before, the prospect of exercising on a reformer bed can be a bit daunting – but don’t worry, it’s there to support you, not torture you! So to give you an idea of what to expect at your first reformer Pilates beginner class, we asked one of our clients to share their experience. Sarah recently tried reformer Pilates for the first time ever at our new Hertford studio.
I only recently found out about reformer Pilates, and when I found out there was a studio near me, I decided to give it a try. Many years ago I did a few months of yoga classes, and I’ve also tried Alexander technique classes more recently, but I’ve never done Pilates before. I’d certainly never come across this strange construction they call a ‘Pilates reformer bed’!
To be honest, previous group exercise classes I’ve tried have never worked for me. I’ve always felt like I’m a heffalump crashing about at the back of the room three steps behind everyone else, while all the more experienced, younger, more graceful people around me make it all look so easy! What I found encouraging about Chilli is the fact that there’s a maximum of 10 per group in the Hertford Pilates studio, and that meant I’d get more attention from the instructor. So I thought I’d give it a go.
I took advantage of Chilli’s Try A Class offer for a tenner. The offer enables you to bring a friend for free, so I therefore brought a friend who’d also never done Pilates before. Having strength in numbers made it feel less scary!
I was very glad that before my first reformer Pilates class, Chilli Pilates sent me an email with information about what to expect, what to wear for reformer Pilates and, best of all, a short video that introduced me to the reformer bed, with clear instructions about how it works and what I’d need to do.
The first thing we did was introduce ourselves to the instructor, Guy, and let him know we were complete beginners. He was happy to run quickly through the process and show us how to use the reformer bed. He also asked us if we had any localised pain or injury that would prevent us from doing any of the exercises, and he promised that there’s always an alternative for every exercise. Throughout the class he also checked in on us to make sure we were in the right position, repositioning us where necessary, which was really useful.
I was actually very pleased with how well I coped. I just about managed to do all the exercises – some were more difficult than others, but I kept telling myself that’s only to be expected. I could feel I’d been working hard even though it didn’t feel like I’d done as much as, say, in a personal training session, but boy I definitely felt it the next day!
The instructors will show you how to do every exercise and are more than happy to help out if you ask. They’ll reposition you if need be and often offer to give you a bit of an extra stretch while you’re making movements – and it’s always surprising how much more stretch I have in me when someone’s pushing!
Each movement only lasts a minute, which is totally achievable. About halfway through each one, you’re given the option of making things a little bit harder to get even more benefit from the exercise. You also get time checks for the last few seconds so you always know when you can have a little rest, which strangely always makes me want to work even harder!
Before every new exercise, the instructor tells you which springs to use for the best effect. They will also tell you which springs will make things a bit harder for the more experienced people who want to challenge themselves more. In this way, beginners, intermediates and more experienced people can exercise together and everyone gets something out of the session.
Something I found out later on is that no two sessions are the same. Every session has a different set of exercises to do, which means you’ll never get bored doing the same thing over and over. It also means that over time you’ll be working on different muscles.
Once my muscles had stopped screaming (but in a good way!), I took up Chilli Pilates membership. You use the app to book your sessions, and you don’t have to commit to the same session every week, which is really helpful. It means you can go to any Chilli Pilates studio at times that suit you. Another advantage is that you also get to work with different instructors. The app makes it easy to change or cancel classes you’ve already booked.
And I really like the fact that the instructors know my name and there’s always a friendly “Hello Sarah” when I arrive.
There are times when I still feel a bit like a heffalump, but I’m surprised by how quickly my body is adapting to the exercises and am already at the stage when I’m starting to push myself to do more.
We love introducing people to all the benefits of reformer Pilates, and we’re delighted that Sarah is now a regular at Chilli. If you’d like to try reformer Pilates for yourself, Chilli Pilates now has 11 studios throughout Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. So if you’re searching for a ‘Pilates class near me’ there’s bound to be at least one that’s close by. Sign up for a trial class for £10 (or £5 each if you bring a friend) and find out what reformer Pilates can do for you.
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