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Etiquette for Pilates Classes

Dos and Don'ts You Will Want to Know

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Updated April 09, 2014

Pilates classes generally hum along without much trouble. It's not hard to figure out what the etiquette at a Pilates studio is. And when in doubt, it's always acceptable to ask. Still, there are a few things you should know, and a few reminders some of us, ah, need.

Do Arrive On Time

It is important to be at class on time. Arriving late interrupts the flow of a class, and it means that your body won't get the full benefit of the sequence the teacher is building. Being on time is a sign of respect for the instructor and other students.

Don't Be a "No Show"

Please call if you are going to miss your class. Even if something comes up at the last minute and you are embarrassed, or you forgot class and remembered too late to go, call. If you are signed up for a class, that spot is being held for you until the very last minute. If the studio knows you aren't coming, they might be able to fill your place, and they won't worry about you.

Do Warm Up Before Class

Some of us need more warm up than others, though every body appreciates some warm up. It would be nice if we had time in all of our classes to warm up properly, but I see warm up skipped a lot. If you have time before class, warm up is the best way to use it. If you are unsure about what to do, start with these exercises:
Pilates Fundamentals
Pilates Warm Ups

Don't Intrude On the Class Before Yours

If a class is going on, be respectful. That means not holding prolonged conversations within hearing of the students. It also means that you might have to hold off on your warm up until the class ends. Studios are set up differently. If you can find a quiet corner to do your own thing in, that is usually fine. It is usually not good to help yourself to an empty reformer and start doing what you want when a class is in progress. Depend on your common sense.

Do Let Your Instructor Know About Injuries or Changes in Your Body

Often, instructors will check in with students before a class, and ask how they are feeling and if there is anything special going on. But if something really new is going on for you, don't wait to be asked. Politely approach the instructor before class and let them know what's up.

New bodily pains or strains are important to communicate. As are a significant changes like a surgery or pregnancy.
Neck Pain and Pilates
Back Pain and Pilates

Don't Use Class Time as Chat Time

Before and after class are great times to chat with friends and share insights about Pilates (as long as you aren't disturbing others). During class, it is a good idea to review whether or not what you want to say is timely and relevant. If you tend to blurt out whatever pops in your head, try to take a look at why. Sometimes talking is a way of escaping the moment.

This might be a good time to mention cell phones. Do turn them off.

Do Ask Appropriate Questions

Some questions can wait until after class, but sometimes a certain exercise -- in that moment -- triggers a question that has been lingering. I tend to think it's fine to ask a question like that during class. On the other hand, you might be in a large class that has a workout flow going in which case it might be best to hang on to it until after. But do make sure you get your questions answered.

Don't Do Exercises that Hurt Your Body

You are responsible for your body. If an instructor asks you to do something that really doesn't feel right for you (which is different than "requires exertion"), it is alright not to do it. Ask the instructor for a modification. You can also familiarize yourself with basic Pilates exercise modifications:
Modification Tips for Pilates Exercises

Do Wear Appropriate Workout Clothing

There is nothing special about workout clothing for Pilates. You just need something that lets you move, isn't too tight or too baggy, and lets the instructor see the line of your body. Shoes are not worn for Pilates workouts. Some people wear specialized footwear, like The Shu or Pilates socks, as a light barrier or to enhance their grip on the equipment.
Read more in:
What to Wear for Pilates
Pilates Clothing Reviews
Women - What to Wear Under Workout Clothes

It is best not to wear strong scents to class. Many people are sensitive to perfumes and other scented products.

Do Find Out How You Should Leave the Pilates Equipment

This is a basic put away your toys note (you asked first anyway, right). If you move a piece of equipment or take a something small like a magic circle from its place, put it back. Beyond that, most studios will want students to wipe the equipment off when they are finished. The studio provides towels and spray for that. Sometimes a studio will want you to return equipment that changes during class, like reformer, chair, or tower to a start position for the next class.
Learn about Pilates equipment:
Pilates Small Equipment
Pilates Large Equipment

Don't Be Afraid of Pilates Classes

Some people are intimidated by Pilates classes. Don't be. Pilates studios are usually welcoming environments where all kinds of people are taking advantage of the benefits of Pilates for different reasons. If you are tempted but unsure, read:
Overcoming Fears About Pilates
Top 5 Myths About Pilates
Why You Need a Live Instructor
How to Find Pilates Classes

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