All right, you’ve heard all the buzz, and you are excited to start doing Pilates! You want to get going to “play” on that new contraption you’ve heard about – the Reformer!
The reformer is truly a wonderful piece of equipment. It looks like a foreign torture device to some, I know. However, to Pilates teachers and student practitioners alike the Reformer is an instrument, not just something to provide you with resistance to work against.

Many clients come to us with the desire to join a Group Reformer class immediately. And I completely understand why!

At Embody Movement Pilates Studio, we prefer to max our group reformer and chair classes at just 4 people. This student/teacher ratio allows us to get to know our students very well. And, our students benefit by getting to know and support each other.

As a member of this community, you as an individual, significantly contribute in important ways to your group class environment. And I’m not just talking about making sure you bring your grippy toe socks! 😊

#1 A Clear Foundation

Embody Movement Pilates Studio Teacher Sabine with Group Reformer ClassOkay, you may think of yourself as a good mover, or a pretty coordinated person, typically. But if you’ve not done Pilates before, we do ask that you come with an open mind about getting your footing in the Fundamentals—in the basics so that everyone can feel supported and successful. Moving from and on the same page.

Keep in mind that through the sessions, you work together with your teacher to decide if your ability will work well if your intention is to go beyond a beginner group class right away.

Even if you’ve done Pilates before, we recommend that as a client new to our studio, you take advantage of one of our 2 Intro options. Either the Getting Started Group Reformer class or the Getting Started Private package. Here’s why:

  • You’ll familiarize yourself with the equipment beginning at a pace that’s adequate for you, or designed for a bunch of beginners all together.
  • You’ll become acquainted with the language of Pilates, the cues and expectations in the class
  • Without getting “lost in a crowd,” you’ll receive specific guidance on how a basic Pilates exercise or move should feel in your body.
  • You’ll build a clear foundation on how to get the most out of your Pilates practice and how to use the Reformer as an instrument to help you gain strength, flexibility and core awareness.
  • You’ll receive coaching/feedback on where you need to target to make improvements, and help you identify any tendencies to rely on a “bad habit” posture.

#2 Bring your Brain

Whether you are participating in Intro level groups, intermediate or mixed level, one important tool to have with you is your brain!

For the sake of time and class flow, Pilates teachers cannot always demo every single reformer exercise. Especially in experienced classes, the expectation is that students have a good grasp of their hand or foot placement, overall positioning of their body, and how to set up the equipment for themselves so that they can keep in the flow.

Pilates teachers are using their body, touch and voice to give cues. You’ll be using your eyes for visual cues. But you’ll also do quite a lot of listening and interpreting during class.

Brain working outIt may sound silly, but it takes practice and skill to take directions being given to you verbally, coordinate your body, while moving yourself on a piece of equipment you’re just getting oriented with.

Maybe at first the directions are simple, about your left or right limb or how many reps to do. But you’ll soon also hear cues about your breath, or to release tension where you don’t need it, or to notice if your eyes or chest is down instead of up in your posture.

Cues get more advanced as you advance. It’s great to participate in group with your friends but allow chatter and catch up time before or after the class. Keep your mind clear and present as you keep up with the pace and flow along with the group.

The brilliant side effect? Your cerebellum gets a work out too!

#3 Hone your Skills at Home

“You want me to do homework?” You live in your body outside of the studio, right? The one or two hours you spend at the studio are keenly focused time in the classroom.

The ability to further impact your progress, however, is in own capable hands when you’re outside of the classroom. Yes, even if you do not own a reformer. Studio equipment is a big part what Joseph Pilates designed in his method. Central to the system though, are the Mat exercises.Pilates Cat Stretch Direction

If you repeat the Fundamentals (or a selection of Pilates Mat exercises) at home, you’ll definitely see it kick you up a notch when you return to the studio.

It’s not as though Group Pilates class is a competition. But as with anything you’ve bother to invest in, you get out of it what you put into it. The beauty of Pilates is that as you practice, you can work from a deeper place of strength, with less struggle, and soon you’ve surpassed another obstacle!

So, sure, bring the Pilates socks, and your favorite headband. But don’t forget to

  • Establish your Foundation
  • Do your Homework, and
  • Get your Brain ready for the workout!

By the way, an excellent review of Pilates Mat repertoire for your homework skills is available for you to experience through our Pilates for Life workshops, scheduled a couple of times a month. Check the schedule here for details.

Look for a future blog post on Group Reformer etiquette, coming soon!

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