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The Reformer Pilates Experience: A Beginner's Guide to Reformer Pilates

For those new to Reformer Pilates in general, this exercise routine can seem daunting! With a large bed and moving platform, long straps and intimidating springs, there is a lot going on. But there’s no reason to fear! Knowing what to expect from your first session can help ease any apprehension and set you up for success.

In this post, we will provide a comprehensive guide to navigating your first Reformer Pilates class with confidence. From understanding the equipment to embracing the learning curve, we'll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your experience. Whether you’re just starting out at one of our local studios, or trying to decide, whether Pilates is the workout for you, we’ve got a run-down on what you can expect.

Beginners to Pilates standing on a reformer machine

Pilates Principles

Before your first session, it is important to know that Pilates focuses on 6 principles throughout each class. This is to ensure that each exercise is completed with mindfulness and intention

  • Centring: Pilates emphasises finding and maintaining a strong centre or core throughout exercises. This helps improve stability, balance, and overall body control.
  • Concentration: Concentrating fully on each movement is key to Pilates. By staying present and focused, you can better engage the correct muscles and optimise your form.
  • Control: Pilates exercises are performed with precision and control, rather than speed or momentum. This allows for safer and more effective workouts, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Precision: Every movement should be executed with precision, focusing on proper alignment and muscle engagement to achieve optimal results.
  • Breath: Proper breathing is integral to Pilates practice. By coordinating your breath with movement helps facilitate relaxation, oxygenation of muscles, and core activation.
  • Flow: Pilates movements are designed to flow seamlessly from one to the next. This encourages a sense of connectedness throughout the body and enhances overall coordination.

Understanding and embodying these principles will not only enhance your performance throughout your Reformer Pilates class but also carry over into your daily life, promoting better posture, mobility, and overall mindfulness.

Read More: 5 Reasons Why Reformer Pilates Should Be Your Next Fitness Obsession

Perth Reformer Pilates Studio with an instructor and student during a class

A Typical Reformer Class Setup

A typical Reformer class setup is designed to provide a comprehensive and challenging workout that targets various muscle groups while emphasising core strength, flexibility, and overall body conditioning.

The pace and intensity of the class will vary depending on the instructor and the participants' fitness levels, but the focus is always on proper form, controlled movements, and mindful breathing.

Here's a look at what you can expect from a typical Reformer class:

Equipment Setup:

Each participant is assigned a Reformer machine, which consists of a sliding carriage, springs, ropes, and pulleys. The instructor will ensure that the equipment is set up correctly and adjusted to the appropriate resistance level for each participant.


The class typically starts with a gentle warm-up to prepare the body for the exercises ahead. This may include dynamic stretches, breathing exercises, and light movements to increase blood flow and flexibility.

Core Exercises:

The core is a key focus in Reformer Pilates, so the class will often include a series of exercises targeting the abdominal muscles, lower back, and pelvic floor. These exercises may involve the use of the footbar, straps, and various spring settings to provide resistance.

Full-Body Exercises:

In addition to core work, Reformer classes include exercises that target the arms, legs, glutes, and back muscles. These exercises are designed to improve overall strength, flexibility, and muscle tone.


Flexibility is an important component of Pilates, so the class will typically include stretching exercises to improve range of motion and prevent muscle tightness.

Cool Down:

The class will finish up with a cool-down period, which may include more stretching exercises and relaxation techniques to help the body recover and reduce muscle soreness.

Read More: Mindful Movement: Embracing the Mind-Body Connection in Pilates

pilates class in Perth Innaloo where a student is being taught how to use foot straps

Tips for Your First Reformer Pilates Class

Once you know what to expect, stepping into your first Reformer class can all the more exiting! To make the most out of your first class (and every class going forward!) here are a few key things to remember:

Wear Comfortable Clothing:

Choose form-fitting but comfortable workout attire that allows for ease of movement. Avoid loose or baggy clothing as they can restrict your movement and get caught in the equipment.

Bring Grip Socks:

Many reformer exercises involve a variety of movements that are designed to challenge the joints and muscles. Grip socks are recommended to provide traction and stability on the Reformer machine to reduce the risk of slipping during Pilates activities.

Arrive Early:

It is always recommended to arrive 10-15 minutes early to your session. This allows ample time for check-in, filling out necessary forms and getting familiar with the studio layout and equipment.

Listen to Your Body:

During the class, tune in to your body's signals and adjust the intensity of your movements accordingly. While it's essential to challenge yourself, it's equally important to respect your limits and avoid overexertion. If something feels uncomfortable or painful, communicate with your instructor and modify the exercise as needed.

Focus on Form:

Pay close attention to your form and alignment throughout the class. Proper technique is crucial for maximising the effectiveness of each exercise and reducing the risk of injury. Listen to your instructor's cues and corrections, and aim for precision in your movements.

Stay Hydrated:

Hydration is crucial for any physical activity. Keep a water bottle nearby and stay hydrated throughout the class. Reformer Pilates can be a challenging workout that induces sweating, so it's essential to replenish fluids regularly. Take sips of water between exercises to maintain hydration and energy levels.

Be Patient and Consistent:

Remember - Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is the skills for Reformer Pilates. Be patient with yourself as you learn new skills and adapt to the challenges of the practice. Consistency is key to progress, so commit to attending classes regularly and trust in the process, and you’ll see results in no time.

Enjoy Yourself!

Above all, enjoy yourself! You’re there to improve your health and fitness and by approaching your class with a positive mindset you're already taking a significant step toward achieving your goals. Embrace the opportunity to challenge yourself, explore new movements, and connect with your body on a deeper level.

Student using arm straps in a Perth Pilates Studio

Unlock Your Potential with Club Pilates!

Whether you're a newcomer to Pilates or a fitness enthusiast, there's always something new to discover and achieve on the Reformer machine. For beginners, preparation is key to ensuring your Pilates experience is beneficial from the get go.

So, why not start your journey with Club Pilates? With a variety of studio locations across Australia and the first class free, there's never been a better time to give it a try. Step into our welcoming studio environment, surrounded by supportive instructors and like-minded individuals eager to support you on your fitness journey. Embrace the challenge, unlock your potential, and reap the rewards of a healthier, happier you. Join us today and let's kickstart your journey together!

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