From Reformer to Mat: A Beginner’s Guide to Pilates

An overview of Pilates

Pilates is a low-impact workout that helps challenge your core muscles and improve your posture. The classes are designed to stretch and strengthen your muscles in a calming and welcoming group environment. Pilates emphasises control, alignment and breathing, making it suitable for individuals of all fitness levels and ages.

Is it like Yoga?

Compared to Yoga, Pilates has a stronger focus on increasing strength and improving your posture. It has less of a focus on spirituality, however, breath is still an important component and makes the class a great stress reliever. Most people who like Yoga enjoy Pilates as well, and vice versa.

Benefits of Pilates

Enhanced Core Strength
Pilates is very efficient at targeting your core muscles. Through a series of precise movements, it zeroes in on the deep abdominal muscles, pelvic floor, and back muscles. This helps with your stability and support of your spine, reducing your risk of back pain and injury.

Postural Alignment
Poor posture is unfortunately very common, particularly if you work at a screen for most of the day! Pilates and low-impact exercises target the muscles responsible for maintaining proper alignment, helping to counteract the effects of prolonged sitting and standing.

Mind-Body Connection
Pilates is great for reducing stress and improving mental clarity. By focusing on breath control and precise movements, it promotes a strong mind-body connection. This holistic approach enhances overall well-being and fosters a sense of inner balance.

Improved Flexibility and Range of Motion
Low-impact exercises, such as yoga and Pilates, incorporate stretches that enhance flexibility and joint mobility. By lengthening and elongating the muscles, they help to improve range of motion, preventing stiffness and promoting better movement patterns in daily activities.

About Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates focuses on exercises using your bodyweight on a yoga/Pilates mat to stretch and strengthen. It’s easy to get started, as you only need a mat! (Check if your Fernwood provides these, or if you need to have your own). Mat Pilates is a great way to learn the foundations of Pilates, including the names of exercises and how to move with your breath.

About Reformer Pilates

Reformer Pilates shares principles with traditional mat classes but is performed on a reformer machine. It’s not as intimidating as it looks! The machine provides support for your workout by adjusting its resistance to match your current fitness level. Although you don’t want the machine to work for you, consider it a workout buddy supporting you through your exercises and helping you target muscles more effectively.

Tips for Beginners

Get started by participating in a group fitness Pilates class with an expert instructor! Let them know you’re new to Pilates and they can support you through your first session.

  • Focus on your form, not your speed. Make sure to listen to your instructor’s cues and breathe throughout the class.
  • Aim to attend classes at least twice a week to see the most benefits.
  • Go at your own pace and don’t compare yourself to others – this workout is all about you, your body and your needs.
  • Have fun! We want you to feel happy, healthy and fulfilled at Fernwood. So, enjoy the community environment, do it for you, and don’t forget to stop for a chat to let us know how you’re going.


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