Beginner’s Guide To Pilates: Everything You Need To Know To Get Started

Pilates sounds complicated just by the sound of it, doesn’t it? What exactly is it? Sometimes fitness trends can feel way more complicated than they are. If you’re intrigued by Pilates, but don’t know what it is and are a little hesitant to walk into a class without knowing what to expect first, we’re here to break it down for you so you can confidently strut in like you know what you’re doing.

We connected with Lesley Logan, PMA Certified Pilates Teacher at Lesley Logan Pilates, to give us the lowdown on everything we were curious about with Pilates. She’s been teaching for almost a decade now, and we’re ready to soak in her wisdom on the fun workout regimen.

What is Pilates?

Pilates is a strength-based workout that uses body weight and springs for resistance. Pilates, originally called Contrology, was created by Joseph Pilates and brought to the states in the 1920s. Joseph Pilates first created the mat work and then realizing that many people needed help to do the mat he created the equipment: Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Barrels, and more!
His exercises are designed to balance the body and leave no muscle untouched. In every Pilates session, you should feel your whole body has been strengthened. If you do Pilates consistently you will notice more strength, flexibility, better posture, and endurance.

What’s the difference between yoga and Pilates?

Yoga primarily holds poses for several breaths and is mostly done on a mat with a few props to assist getting into the pose. In Pilates, you are constantly moving. Your challenge as the practitioner is to stay connected to your body throughout the movement, to control what’s moving where! Pilates is also done on equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, Barrels, and more. 

What equipment do you need?

If you have space and means then getting a Reformer or Tower Unit or Wunda Chair for your house is great! But, most of us don’t have space for a home Pilates studio. Plus, the good equipment that will last and get your the results you are looking for can be expensive.

So, finding a studio to go to regularly for equipment is ideal. For a home mat practice you’ll want a mat, if your floors are hard, you’ll want something thicker than a yoga mat. Also, consider a Magic Circle, some one or two pound weights and a Theraband. You can do mat classes at home with online programs like or my weekly online classes

Where does one start?

If available to you, starting with a few privates from a comprehensively trained instructor is ideal. If you can continue to do privates and supplement with group classes on online classes at home, you will see the benefits of Pilates sooner. The best thing about Pilates is the more you do it the stronger you get and the results just get better. There are no plateaus as there are over 500+ basic Pilates exercises. And, one can always go deeper and connect more to their body as they learn the method. You can find comprehensively trained teachers online at

If we’re going to a new studio, what tips do you have for us? What should we be prepared for?

Before you go to a new studio or a new class if you have not done Pilates before call and make sure the class is safe and the right choice for you, your needs and your goals. If you have any injuries, I recommend you start taking privates at the studio you will take classes at to ensure you can be safe and know how to take care of yourself once in the class.
Introduce yourself to the teacher before class starts (so go early to be ready), this way they are sure to double-check your form. Pilates is an amazing set of exercises and safe when done correctly, but it’s easy in a class to be doing the exercises wrong and the teacher can only do so much.
Also, be sure to wear the appropriate clothing. If it’s too baggy, your teacher and you cannot see if you are connecting correctly. If it’s too tight, you might not be able to move.
And you might not be sore after your Pilates session. That’s ok! Pilates gets harder the more you do it, because you start to connect more of your smaller under-used muscles and not just your “go-to” muscles. So if you’re not sore the next day, don’t ditch the method. Keep going!

What should people look for when choosing a pilates studio?

Ideally, a fully equipped studio is ideal for a practitioner. This is because our bodies have asymmetries and movement patterns that might be keeping us from connecting to the right muscles.

If you’re struggling to learn and do something on the reformer, your teacher can take you over to other Pilates equipment that can help teach your body the movement in a different way. It’s pretty incredible how the other pieces of equipment will teach your body so when you do your mat work or Reformer work later you will continue to change and grow and get stronger!

Finding the right instructor is key. Find out how long they trained for, why they became a teacher and what they love about teaching. Like Yoga, Personal Training and even your Spin classes the right teacher is integral to you hitting your goals and needs.

Also, you don’t need to give up your favorite workouts. Pilates will make everything you are already doing more effective! 
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