Mat Pilates Tips for Beginners

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mat pilates

I decided to add mat Pilates to my weekly routine, and I’m so thankful my studio offers more Pilates classes at more times. Mat Pilates does not include any sort of contraptions, just a strap/elastic band, block, and mat. If you’re interested in an awesome core workout and don’t mind hating your instructor for her sadistic love of donkey kicks, you should totally try it.

Dress comfortably
If you’re not comfortable showing your stomach, I suggest wearing a shirt or tank top that won’t slip while you’re in bridge pose. You may even want to wear a pair of pants that will let you quickly tuck your shirt in while in between poses, just in case. I like to wear crops  (like my favorite: prAna Women’s Audrey Knicker*) and sweat-whicking shirt (like these from Patagonia) for these workouts.

Bring a small hand towel
I didn’t expect to sweat as much as I do during some classes…it depends on the workout, of course, but bring an extra hand towel if you’re like me and get a bit sweaty.

If you need extra padding, use a second yoga mat or buy an extra thick one
You’ll be on your back, side, and knees for this type of workout. Padding is important if you get uncomfortable quickly. If your studio lets you borrow mats, grab a second one before heading into your practice, or bring a second one with you (like the spare mat* I keep in my car). My problem isn’t with padding, it is with being able to move smoothly between poses…my mat is extra grippy, so I use a yoga mat towel* over my mat so I get a bit of comfort during my workout.

Don’t be afraid to laugh
Unless you’re obsessed with doing ab rippers on a regular basis, this is going to get tough…and like I said earlier, I think Pilates instructors secretly plan out practices that make students want to cry and give up (or throw up a few times?). I can’t help but laugh and cuss at the end of some combos…I mean, I’m voluntarily doing this?! I’m here so you can put me through ab work hell? How did you know that muscle existed?! Are you some sort of Kinesiologist looking to find new ways to get my abductor muscles to burn like a thousand fiery suns? Go ahead and laugh, it’s an added ab workout!

You’re not sore the day after like you are two days after
Why don’t people ever write this in their posts?! They’ll joke about it in person or on Twitter, but never include the fact that the soreness you feel the day after your workout is nothing like the soreness you’ll feel two days after. You know you worked and pushed your hardest when you wake up thinking you were hit with a baseball bat two days after your practice…trust me, it’s a thing. Keep an eye out for it, and when it happens, be sure to spread the word to others.

When I hear ‘core workout’ I assume the workout is going to mostly focus on abs and back…be prepared to work your legs just as much! Sometimes I feel like I may collapse after a workout just because my legs are jelly.

Just like with yoga, there is no reason why non-Glamazons can’t do Pilates. You would never guess one of my favorite instructors does Pilates and she is amazing…like, jaw droppingly amazing. Don’t let your assumptions of body shape hold you back from trying this. Also? The average age of participants in my classes? I’d say I’m one of the youngest at 26 and some women are in their late 50s/early 60s. Have fun, and if you don’t go back, at least you can say you’ve done it before!

Have you tried Pilates?
What tips would you add to this list?

Interested in more tips from a beginner?

*Affiliate link. Support Campfire Chic by purchasing through these links. I will only put an affiliate link on products I truly believe you would enjoy.

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From a Beginner Pilates Yoga

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Tamara February 20, 2013, 2:14 pm

    I took a pilates class at my local community center a couple saturdays ago. OMG Okay. I knew it would be hard. I’m going from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising. Wow. That afternoon I could only feel it in my legs… then the next day it was my lower back and in spots I didn’t know I had muscles. Like below my shoulder blades and really far down on my abdominals, like almost lady parts area. I continued to hurt all week.
    I do have to say, the soreness was worth it. I have never taken a class that I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed in. There were times that I felt I had to stop and recenter and then keep going but I never felt like I COULDN’T do it. Which for someone way way way out of shape, is a new feeling.
    Can you recommend some stretches to do prior to a yoga or pilates class to help avoid some soreness?


    • Kam February 20, 2013, 4:40 pm

      It’s CRAZY how sore we can get so many days later and yet want to go back for more! I had to laugh at “lady parts”, I call that area that, too…gotta stay classy;)

      I’m thinking that cooling down with some easy stretching after your workout will help more than warming up beforehand (since your instructor should be doing that in the first place) but, in the end, “sore today, strong tomorrow” is a real thing since we’re both just starting out. What I’ve noticed helps is putting my rear close to a wall and then swinging my legs up the wall for…well, “legs up the wall”. It really helps relax the body and gets things flowing. Also, make sure you get a good protein-snack after your workout to help your body build your muscles, they need the right kind of fuel!

      If you’re digging Pilates and want to try some more at home, check out…Casey is amazing and she has AWESOME videos.


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