Wear appropriate clothing.
When choosing clothes for a reformer pilates session, it's important to choose clothes that will support you during your workout and keep you comfortable.
It's best to wear stretchy, form-fitting clothes that are close to the body and have breathable fabrics so you can stay cool during exercise and have better circulation while exercising.
When selecting a pair of pants or shorts, go for ones that are long enough so they cover any exposed skin while in downward facing dog position (this helps prevent injury).
Shirts should be loose fitting as well so they don't ride up when doing arm balances or other movements requiring an extended range of motion with arms above head level.
Never push through pain.
If you feel pain, you are doing something wrong. Adjustments are often necessary to find a place where you can breathe, move and feel good in the body. If your instructor is not available to help, ask another student or someone else who has been using the reformer for a while. Be careful not to take shortcuts or try things on your own—take your time and do it correctly!
Plan your workout.
Many people are surprised to learn that Pilates is actually a focused form of exercise. Like many other forms of exercise, Pilates requires planning and preparation before you begin your session.
Before you begin practicing on the Pilates Reformer Machine, make sure that you have enough time to complete your workout without having to rush through it.
You need to be able to perform each movement with proper form, which takes some time. Don’t do more than 10 minutes of power-based cardio in between sets! The Reformer is not designed for high intensity cardio like treadmills or elliptical machines; it’s designed for strength training and stretching.
If possible, start by doing a little bit of warm up cardio first (such as walking on treadmill). Then move into your sets with a focus on good form and technique rather than speed or intensity
Don't forget about breathing.
Breathing is a key part of Pilates, and it's not just about inhaling and exhaling. It's about breathing deeply into your belly, so that it expands with each in-breath, then contracts with each out-breath. The goal is to find the right tempo and rhythm for this type of breathing that feels natural to you; if you feel like you're forcing yourself too much when you breathe or are having trouble getting all the air out on the exhale, try slowing down your rhythm until it feels more comfortable.
Some exercises call for specific breaths at certain points:
- When doing the Hundred (or Hundred I), breathe in as your knees come up off the mat, then exhale as they return to start position (no matter what happens with your arms).
- For Side Plank Pose variations where one hand touches down first after a V Position rollback bend over two sides, inhale before lowering yourself onto that side; exhale as both hands touch down and continue rolling back to neutral spine position (with feet remaining off floor).