Beginners Tips

All you need for your first Pilates class:

  • Leggings/crops/long shorts
  • T-shirt/sports top
  • Socks (no trainers)
  • Fleece/sweatshirt
  • Large towel (to be folded under head) or thin foam 'Yoga block'
  • Tennis ball or similar for balance (optional)

NB. Bring own PILATES mat* for Wycliffe, Beckfoot and Baildon Methodist Church

*mats should be minimum 15mm ie. thicker than a Yoga mat (or 2 x thinner mats)


Shipley College students need to bring their own mats (and towel) see prospectus for other requirements



Most classes are run on a (school) half term basis.

ie. you pay up front for a course of 4-7 wks to book your place for that half term.

Some classes can be offered as pay as you go but beginners must commit to at least 5 consecutive weeks if possible so as to learn the technique to a reasonable basic level. (see below)

NB. The pay as you go rate, if offered, is (usually) £1 per week higher.

Cash accepted or Bacs payment.

Cheques incur a bankers charge of £1 (per cheque)


Question; I am a Beginner, can I start Pilates classes on a pay as you go basis?

No. I ask beginners to sign up for 5 weeks minimum.
This is because it usually takes at least that to learn the basic technique.
(and unlearn any unconscious bad habits)
Pilates strengthens the core by using (initially) low level, easy moves & crucially, relaxing dominant muscles to allow the weaker core muscles to be used and improved. The muscles are postural support muscles for the trunk and are mainly comprised of slow twitch muscles which should, when in good condition, be able to work continuously for long periods giving good posture, efficient movement & support for the back, all without tiring or giving up.
Many people, including athletes, develop their own (faulty) techniques for performing activities which over use strong dominant muscles at the expense of the core muscles. Core muscles should be doing the job of stabilising and supporting, but for various reasons have become too weak & consequently are being ignored & under used by the body (unconsciously).  This situation can go on for years but eventually the overworked dominant muscles start to complain, they need a rest but are now tight, short and very hard to relax.
Athletes have many strong muscles and enjoy using them, most aerobic exercise involves getting quite warm, a bit out of breath, and pushing yourself to work as hard as you can. This technique doesn't work in pilates.
In trying to learn PIlates, less is more. if beginners try to push too hard and the core is not strong enough yet to take the strain, dominant muscles simply take over and the core is not strengthened. Old habits are simply reinforced and nothing new is learned.
Paradoxically, it can be harder for athletes to learn pilates than 'couch potatoes' who dont have any exercise habits to unlearn!
Pilates requires you to develop a new, slower style of exercising during which you concentrate on how it FEELS rather than how it looks. core muscles are deep inside and their action not easily visible so self perception is vital. This is not the usual approach to most exercise activities.
Many pilates exercises are done lying on the mat with knees bent, learning to breathe slowly into the ribs, keeping the lower abs flattened continuously, maintaining a neutral spine position, stabilising the pelvis so it does not move, ensuring the neck is relaxed,  knees bent and feet light on the floor (ie. not pushing down). then moving slowly.
For example, in the warm up; one bent knee (only) at a time, slowly, in time with the breath, moved out to the side & back whilst keeping the body still. The crucial marker of good technique is not how FAR you can take the knee out to the side, but how STILL (stable) you can keep your body whilst moving your knee out to the side. A subtle but essential distinction.
Like learning to drive, bringing all the essential elements together in each movement takes time and practice and needs to be built up steadily week by week. Beginners take up a disproportionate amount of time and attention in any pilates class, which I am more than happy to give when I see the progress over consecutive weeks. If beginners are unable to commit to at least 5 weeks in order to get properly started, chances are the technique will not be learned, but has to be RE-learned again whenever they do turn up. This isnt really fair on the rest of the class, and doesnt feel like a good use of my time and effort either, (or yours for that matter!)
For this reason, I require beginners to commit to 5 weeks and once the technique is embedded, then a more relaxed attendance is acceptable.
Good Form (in performing exercises):
If exercises are performed badly all you achieve is being good at doing it badly!


Most exercises are suitable for all but if in doubt consult your doctor/consultant.

Pease tell me if

  • pregnant or post natal
  • post operation eg. hysterectomy
  • you have osteoporosis
  • suffering from back, neck, shoulder ache
  • taking pain killers (try not to take any before class)
  • had a recent accident or anything else you think might affect your ability to exercise

Most people can still come to class but just need to be extra cautious.