What Should You Bring to a Pilates Class?

Shoes, socks, pants, tops? If you’ve never been to a Pilates class before you might not be sure what to bring. Our short guide will help you turn up like a boss.

Pilates is an older exercise that has become a contemporary trend. It is a popular form of exercise because it improves flexibility while increasing mobility and strength throughout the body. Pilates is suitable for any age.

Once you have decided that you want to do Pilates and have determined if you would rather take private lessons or attend group classes, the next thing to figure out is what you need to bring with you to the Pilates classes. As far as equipment goes, most studios will supply it for their members, but you may wish to bring some of your own. This article will cover what you might need to bring with you as well as what you should wear to Pilates class.

Stott Pilates Reformer Class

What to Wear in Pilates Class

The most important thing to remember when choosing clothing for Pilates class is comfort and flexibility. The best clothes to wear to Pilates classes are ones that are form-fitting. Loose, baggy clothing will not only make it difficult to move, but also prevent the instructor from observing your form. The key to Pilates is your form, and your instructor will need to assess your body alignment and symmetry to see if there are any areas that need improvement. You also need to wear stretchy materials to help you exercise without restraint.

Modesty is another thing to consider when picking out your Pilates wardrobe. There are a lot of positions that involve legs and torsos in the air. Clothes that are too baggy may fall or ride up and make you uncomfortable, as well as expose more than you want to the class. You want to make sure your clothing is not see-through as well.

When it comes to Pilates wardrobe, all genders should stick to the same rules: breathable, comfortable, lightweight, form-fitting and modest. Below are examples of the types of clothing you should wear to Pilates class:

  • Bottoms should fit well and not be loose or baggy. Examples include ankle-length or capri-length leggings, compression leggings, track pants or yoga pants. If shorts are worn, they should be form-fitting. If they are loose, then you should wear bicycle shorts underneath them. Also, shorts do not need to be short, because those are more likely to ride up.
  • Tops should be slim-fitting. A shirt with sleeves is fine, if the sleeves are fitted and not loose, especially if you will be using equipment. Slim-fitting workout crop tops and tanks are also acceptable.
  • Women should also wear a low-impact sports bra or yoga bra.

Besides baggy clothing, there are a few other accessories and articles of clothing that you need to avoid when doing Pilates. These include:

  • Tie-back tops—These can be uncomfortable when doing mat Pilates and can get caught on equipment if you are doing reformer Pilates.
  • Belts, drawstrings, and tassels—These can also get caught on Pilates equipment and cause injury or damage to equipment.
  • Workout clothing with enhancements or decorations—Zippers, buckles, clasps and buttons can cause distraction and cause damage to equipment.
  • Jewelry—Jewelry can be distracting and can also be a nuisance when you are doing various mat poses. Furthermore, like the other accessories mentioned, it can also get caught on the equipment and either cause injury or mess up the equipment.
  • Shoes—Of course, you can wear shoes to and from classes. But most people do Pilates either sock-footed or barefoot. If you are going to be using equipment like reformers, you will want to wear socks with a grip to keep you from slipping and injuring yourself.

There are also some other grooming tips to remember when taking Pilates classes. If you have long hair, you should always wear it up and away from your face. If you are doing mat Pilates, hair can get in your face and make it difficult to concentrate and watch the instructor. If you are using a reformer or other equipment, it could get caught on something.

Do not wear makeup. Not only will you get sweaty, but makeup can also stain the mats and other equipment. Go easy on the scented products too, or opt for unscented altogether. Some studios will ask that clients not wear anything strongly scented because others have sensitivities and allergies to strong scents. This includes deodorant, lotion, perfume and other sprays.

Do You Wear Shoes in Pilates?

As mentioned above in the clothing to avoid section, shoes are not recommended when doing Pilates. There are a couple of reasons why people ditch the shoes and either go barefoot or wear socks while attending Pilates classes.

One reason is because Pilates focuses on agility and movement. There are 26 bones and 30 joints in the foot alone. Wearing shoes can restrict some of the movement of the foot. Your foot can move more freely if you are wearing only socks or are barefoot.

Secondly, a research study conducted by Ithaca College professor Patrick McKeon showed that barefoot exercise activities are beneficial to balance and posture. Also, doing activities like Pilates and yoga barefoot can prevent injuries such as bursitis, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, stress fractures and tendonitis.

Yes, shoes do help provide balance and support, but the goal of Pilates is to rely on the body’s ability to support itself and improve balance and mobility. Therefore, wearing shoes can be restricting.

Keep in mind that if you are going to do Pilates using equipment like reformers, then it is best to wear socks to prevent injury. The best socks to wear for Pilates are ones that have grips on the bottom to prevent slipping and sliding and provide traction while using the machines.

What You Need for Pilates

Now that you are properly dressed for Pilates, what else do you need to bring with you to class? Most studios and fitness centers will probably supply most of the equipment you need, especially the large equipment. However, there are a few things that you may want to bring with you:

  • Water bottle—While Pilates is low impact, you still will probably work up a sweat and it is always a good idea to stay hydrated while you are doing any physical activity.
  • Towel—Many studios will supply towels, but you may prefer to have your own, especially if you will be using some of the larger equipment.
  • Pilates mat—Pilates mats are similar to yoga mats, but thicker. Most Pilates mats range in thickness from 6mm to 15mm. If you plan to use the mat for both Pilates and yoga, stick with the 6mm. Mats will usually be provided by the studio, but some may require you to bring your own.
  • Other equipment—Additional equipment may not be required or may be available for you to use at the gym. However, you still may want to have your own that you can keep sanitized and carry back and forth. Other equipment used for Pilates includes ankle and wrist weights, flex bands, a Pilates ring and an exercise ball.

Now that you know what to bring and wear, you should be ready to attend a Pilates class taught by an experienced instructor.