8 Mistakes to Avoid in Your First Pilates Class

Discover the key to a successful first Pilates class by avoiding these eight common mistakes. From the importance of warming up to choosing the right clothing and listening to your body, my tips will help you feel confident and prepared. Join me, Lesley Logan, co-founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com™, as we create a supportive and inclusive Pilates community together.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • June 7, 2024
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common mistakes to avoid when doing online pilates classes

8 Common mistakes to avoid when doing Pilates

New to Pilates? Here are eight mistakes you can avoid before going to your first Pilates class.

Hi, I’m Lesley Logan, co-founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com. I’ve been teaching Pilates since 2008. But I’ve been doing it since 2005. And boy, I wish I would have known some of the things that I could prepare for my first class. Today we’re gonna dive into all the different things that you want to know before you take your first Pilates class, whether that is a virtual class or an in person class. By doing these things, you can actually make sure you have the most amazing class, not just your first time but every time.

Welcome to OnlinePilatesClasses.com™. The most supportive Pilates loving community across the globe. Enjoy new weekly classes from our amazing teachers. Download the OnlinePilatesClasses.com™ app today.

Before we get started, just in case you don’t know here’s what Pilates is: Pilates is a strength-based workout that’s designed to balance your imbalances. So the goal is not to make you super flexible without strength or super strong without flexibility. We want to make sure the equal balances of strength and stretch your body which not only helps with your posture, it also prevents injuries. So these things alone are going to really help you with all the things you already love. And if you are wondering to do Pilates, versus all of these other stuff, what I’m gonna say is, Pilates is going to help you with everything you already love. So good news, you don’t have to swap out the things you already love to do Pilates, you could add it into your current regimen. If you’re also looking for core strength, better posture and flexibility, you can check out my video about Why You Should Be Doing Pilates that includes all those reasons and more and how it’s going to benefit the life you love.

Also, to help you get the most out of your practice, make sure to avoid mistakes in Pilates class by following expert tips and guidance.

Mistake 1: Not Warming Up

Alright, let’s get into it. Mistake number one, not warming up. Now, here’s the deal. If you are running late to an in person class, if you can make sure especially for your first class that you’re there early enough, not only to meet the instructor, but to get the lay of the land, so you don’t miss the first exercise, which always should be designed to warm you up. If you’re taking a virtual class, an online class, something with me or something at OPC the good news is you will never be late. And the first exercises are always designed to help you get into your body. Because if you’re going to go for a run, you normally would start to walk, start to slowly jog and then build up your speed, right? Well, in a Pilates workout on the Mat, on the Reformer, the first exercises are really designed to help you drop into your body to kick your mind and your body. And to feel how your body is that day. If you miss that part, you miss a part of the workout, because you don’t like those exercises, and you can skip them because you’re at home or you’re running late to class, you, unfortunately, missed the part where you have to drop it and it’s designed to do that on the Mat. The 100 really helps us do that. And the Reformer footwork really helps us do that. So really make sure you give yourself that time to warm your body up. But really especially connect your mind to your body so you can get the most out of the exercise.

Mistake 2: Incorrect Breathing

Alright, let’s talk about mistake number two: incorrect breathing. Now, here’s the deal. It’s your first class. And if you’re with me, I just want you to free I don’t want you to turn blue, I just want you to in and out for the nose and have a good time. However, if you want to nerd out about your breathing, there is a way to breathe when doing your Pilates practice. And the more you come, the more central it’s going to be. I have a great video on lateral breathing versus diaphragmatic breathing. And in Pilates we want to breathe laterally. Now, most teachers are not going to teach you this your first few classes so you don’t need to stress about it. If you’re someone who likes to know the information before going in, I highly recommend learning about it, you’re really going to breathe wide into your back. And the reason for that is you can actually keep your abdominals engaged. Now, again, you’re new, you’re a beginner, you’re not doing a lot of the exercises where that is extremely important for supporting your spine and keeping your center engaged throughout the exercise. You’re doing more foundational work. So it’s going to be okay, as long as you don’t hold your breath or brace. So check those out.

Mistake 3: Overexerting Yourself – be brave and courageous

Alright, so let’s talk about mistake number three: overexerting yourself. Look, as humans, we go to a class or with other people, we tend to want to do what they’re doing, we’re gonna be left behind, we’re gonna be the odd person out. But here’s the deal. It is your first class, it’s important to be brave and courageous and listen to your body. At OPC, at onlinepilatesclasses.com™, we actually talk about this in every class. We want you to replace what you can’t do yet with what you can. And I know it’s your first class you’re like, “Lesley, what do I replace it with?”. If you are taking an online class with me, the good news is you can’t compare yourself to anybody else but me on the screen or one of my OPC teachers, and we’re going to tell you to replace it with something you’ve already done that felt like a challenge for you.

For an in person class, the important thing is to listen to your body. And if an exercise looks like it’s too difficult, you’re not ready for it yet, it is okay to ask for a modification, to replace it with something you already did. If the teacher wants to direct you differently, you can tell them what’s going on. You can say that feels like it’s outside of my experience. You are not slowing the class down, you are not changing the class, you’re not making it all about you. The goal for you is to enjoy your first class and feel what’s like to be in your body and feeling what is like to be in your body means listening to your body and letting your body tell you ‘that’s not okay’ or ‘that is okay’. The other people in there that have been coming a lot longer, use them as inspiration for what is possible in your practice someday.

avoid mistakes online pilates classes

Mistake 4: Ignoring the Instructor

Alright, so. Mistake number four is going to be ignoring the instructor. Now, I don’t think that you would intentionally do that. If you’re watching this video, you clearly want to make sure you do a good job. But it’s really easy to get lost in your thoughts or watching someone else doing something. Especially if you’re a visual learner, it can be hard to listen to the instructor, I totally understand that. So which is why if you need more assistance, you didn’t understand what they said, ask the question. Feel like you can. If you don’t feel like you can, if you feel you’re in a space where you cannot ask that question, then what I would highly recommend is get through that class and then find a different teacher, find a different space where you do feel comfortable and confident.

At onlinepilatesclasses.com™ if you’re an OPC member, you actually can ask us questions in our members only community, there’s no limit to how many questions you can ask, you can even submit a video, “am I doing this exercise right?” And we can actually give you feedback on your form. So even though you’re not live with us in person, we can still do that for you. That’s something we love to do. So if you’re listening to us, and we don’t make sense to you, that’s okay. You’re not weird, you’re not wrong. You don’t need to like learn a new language, you can just simply say “I don’t actually understand what this means” And that way we can help you. But if you can understand what they’re meaning and you’ve just started to think about your grocery list, the thing is that injuries happen. And Pilates is actually one of the safest things you can do for your body if you are listening to the instructor and yourself. Knowing how to avoid Pilates mistakes is crucial, so do that in your next class and I promise you’ll get the results you’re looking for.

Mistake 5: Forgetting to Hydrate

Alright, mistake number five is forgetting to hydrate. And here’s the deal. Pilates is not like you’re going to run a marathon. It’s not a boxing class or a cycling class, you might be thinking “I don’t need to have as much hydration as I do for a cardio workout”. But here’s the deal, your muscles work with their hydration. To feel flexible and supple, you need to have some extra hydration in you and not just water. Really think about adding those electrolytes to it because guess what happens if you’re not hydrated? Cramps! Cramps happen, and they’re not fun. Especially if it is in your foot or in your calf, you have to take a moment, you have to stop, you have to like stretch that out. And that isn’t going to feel like the most fun first time class you’ve ever had. So I highly recommend that you are making sure that before class you hydrate or bring a bottle of water to class, every studio lets you have one. And if you’re taking class with us online, you have no excuse. Your water bottle is in your home, you probably have plenty of them. So make sure you bring it next to your mat so you can take sips as you need.

Mistake 6: Wearing Inappropriate Clothing

Alright, mistake number six is wearing inappropriate clothing. Here’s the deal, you might not realize that too loose of clothing actually reveals a whole heck of a lot when you’re moving. And as a teacher, I have seen more than my fair share of people’s body parts that I don’t need to see, that are not part of the exercise. And so here’s what I would suggest I want you to wear. They don’t have to be super tight. In fact, if you don’t feel comfortable in formfitting clothing, I totally understand. But when you are an in person class, your teacher actually gets feedback on whether you’re connected or not based on how your body is moving, throwing super baggy clothes not only is it hard for them to make sure that you are connected to the exercise correctly, it also can actually impede you from being able to do the movement because your shirt can be rolling up and that can be distracting. Or your pants that are super, super loose can roll up.

Men if you’re reading this, basketball shorts on. And if you’re wearing those loose, loose shorts, I want to see tight pants underneath those are tight shorts or go to your knees. We don’t want to see what the basketball shorts are covering. Ladies, loose shorts as well. You’re like “Oh, these are pretty good. They don’t do anything”. You’re lying down, I’m walking around. So we can see things. So, leggings are great. Tight shorts are great.T-shirts are great. Again, it doesn’t need to be the tightest on you own, it also cannot be the looser. So find something it’s easy to move in, but also allows your teacher to see what you are connected to.

Now if you’re doing class online, here’s the good news: you can do whatever you want! I can’t see anything. At onlinepilatesclasses.com you can choose whatever class you want and do it in whatever makes you feel amazing. We love Pilates and PJs, for example. We think it’s great. So when you’re on your own, the clothing is not so much something that matters. But when you’re in public it does, not only for the privacy of yourself but also for your teacher. And so we can give you the best feedback on your form.

stop pilates mistakes online pilates classes

Mistake 7: Comparing Yourself to Others

All right, mistake number seven: comparing yourself to others. My dear, you are not allowed to compare your first day with someone’s 27th day, 100th class, it doesn’t get to work. It doesn’t work in life, and it’s certainly not gonna work in your Pilates practice. Now look, I understand that if you’re a visual learner and you’re in an in person class, looking at the other people in class can be very helpful for knowing if you’re doing something right or what you should be doing. But that’s what you should look at it for. As just a little check in that like you’re on the right track. Because if you’re going “oh, oh that person looks much longer” or “the person has much more flexibility” and then you start to judge yourself. You are a) not listening to the instructor which means you are making the other mistake we’ve already talked about and b) you are getting into a place in your own head that’s not going to make you want to come back to class. Our brains do not like to do things that cause us shame or judgment. And so if you’re going to look around the class, use it as just a little “Oh, yep, I’m on the right track”, and blinders on to comparing yourself to someone else. It’s one of the reasons I created OPC.

And one of the things we talk about at onlinepilatesclasses.com is this: you’re gonna compare yourself to yourself. It’s why we actually only have one class available for the week on the Mat, one on the Reformer, so that you can take that class, as many times as you have time, and you get to compare yourself to yourself. You’ll learn more about yourself, you’ll learn more about what’s going on your body, and what days are better for you, and what times are better for you, so the only person you’ve been comparing yourself to is you. And it’s day one of your class, so you have no comparison to make at all. It’s just information for your first class.

Mistake 8: Skipping the Cool Down

Alright, we’ve made it to mistake number eight, and it’s skipping the cooldown. Look, I know you’ve got places to be, I know you’re trying to cram in a workout in between a million things on your list of things to do today. But here’s the deal. Those last few exercises are as important as the first ones, because they give you feedback on how your body feels in that moment. Not only is it going to just kind of like let you put a bow on the workout you just had. But you truly will get to kind of just go “Oh, this is howI feel”. If you rush off to the next thing, if you end class early, because you have to be somewhere, you are a) before you’re leaving, you’re already thinking about leaving. So you’re actually missing several exercises already. And b) you’re not giving yourself this moment to just be so grateful that you actually took time to give yourself self care, and to feel how your body feels in this moment. And after a workout, the dopamine is high and our brain feels so good. And it’s one of the things we need to help create good habits, you actually do need a dopamine kick to get a habit around what you just created. So if you’re busy rushing off, and you’re skipping that cooldown, you are going to miss that opportunity to have that dopamine high and celebration to have you come back to class again.

So if you’re taking class online, same thing, I know it’s so easy. “Oh, I know what she’s talking about, I can do this stretch, I can just run off and leave. I’ll stretch later”. I promise you, you won’t. So give yourself permission to wait one or two more minutes to give to your body. It’s only a couple of minutes and your body deserves it. And you’re going to allow everything you learn to seep in and integrate. So you can take that with you wherever you go.

Join Your First Pilates Class with Lesley

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope this was super helpful for you. And I would love to know how your first class went, you could put it in the comments below. If there’s any other questions for you, you can add those to those comments. And I will go live on Sundays at 9am Pacific time to answer your question. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the notification button so you never miss a video from us. And also, if you prefer all the things I said about what happens when you take your first class at home, go to free online pilates classes to check out our trial offer. We want to be your first experience, we actually love teaching newbies, you will be in the most amazing, safe, inclusive, wise environment when you take Pilates at onlinepilatesclasses.com. To avoid Pilates mistakes for beginners, check out our resources and tips tailored specifically for those new to Pilates. Visit onlinepilatesclasses.com/free to join us. Have an amazing day!

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
Enjoying Lesley's teaching style? Willing to travel? Explore the world while maintaining your practice by joining Lesley on a Pilates retreat.

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pop up summer tour | online pilates classes

SUCH A TEASE

ONLINE MAT & REFORMER PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,

xx~LL

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

UP, UP, & AWAY

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.

xx-LL

I WANNA ROCK

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

When I first started teaching another teacher in the studio I was at who had 20+ years of teaching was struggling with her client. They kept wanting to lift their head to extend. In every exercise no matter what she said their head would lift before their chest. She said "the worst thing we ever did was call the neck the neck." Now, I don't think its the WORST thing. I have some thoughts on chairs and shoes. But, its up there! If you've been struggling with Swan, Swimming, Rocking and some of our other fun extension exercises this week is for you!

Grab a magic circle for a fun warm up on the Mat and Reformer. Don't have one? No problem I've got options for ya!

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Magic Circle and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Magic Circle and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


UPTOWN FUNK

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Roll Up. Love it or leave it?

However you feel about it might change over the next week as we explore how to use our side waist and leg muscles to improve your Roll Up!!

It might seem like a funky way to improve your spinal movements, but by using different variations we’ll help you connect your legs to your center. And once you do that you can listen to your body and explore where you need to create more space or find more muscles!

By the way, if you took last fall’s BOOmerang class, you’ll absolutely LOVE the mat workout this week!!

Props Needed:
Mat: Grab a Barrel or Blanket
Reformer: Reformer box & Pole

See you in class,
Rachel

I DIP, YOU DIP, WE DIP

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

I happened to hear an oldy but a goody the other day. One that when it came out my parents for sure would not have wanted me to listen to. But, I was curious about the lyrics and found an old music video. And it made me think about how we often tell you about what to do with your hip points, tailbone and even the crest of your hip. So, for a long time, we've been asking you to dip as we dipped. Ok, maybe not as dramatic or even something you'd do on a dance floor. But for this week, we'll be focusing on our pelvis, where it is in space. So you can dip wherever you are whenever you want!

No props needed.

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

UPTOWN FUNK

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Roll Up. Love it or leave it?

However you feel about it might change over the next week as we explore how to use our side waist and leg muscles to improve your Roll Up!!

It might seem like a funky way to improve your spinal movements, but by using different variations we’ll help you connect your legs to your center. And once you do that you can listen to your body and explore where you need to create more space or find more muscles!

By the way, if you took last fall’s BOOmerang class, you’ll absolutely LOVE the mat workout this week!!

Mat: Grab a Barrel or Blanket
Reformer: Reformer box & Pole

See you in class,
Rachel

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, barrel or blanket and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, reformer box, pole and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


I DIP, YOU DIP, WE DIP

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

I happened to hear an oldy but a goody the other day. One that when it came out my parents for sure would not have wanted me to listen to. But, I was curious about the lyrics and found an old music video. And it made me think about how we often tell you about what to do with your hip points, tailbone and even the crest of your hip. So, for a long time, we've been asking you to to dip as we dipped. Ok, maybe not as dramatic or even something you'd do on a dance floor. But for this week, we'll be focusing on our pelvis, where it is in space. So you can dip wherever you are whenever you want!

No props needed.

See you in class,
xx-LL 💋

WILD SIDE

Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

Pilates is one of the few movement practices that focuses on our side body! And, our side body is what keep us from falling! And, it's also integral to our posture. So, let's nerd out with our Wild Sides!

Let's have fun focusing on twisting, side bending and the spine shapes in between that help and our helped by our Wild Sides!

Mat class: Magic Circle
Reformer class: No props needed
Tower/Cadillac class: A reformer pole and the reformer box, but both are technically optional!
Wunda Chair class: Theraband or an old pair of leggings!

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

HIGH FIVE FOR ALL

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

In Pilates we often talk about the 5 spinal shapes… do you know them? No worries if you don’t yet as this month we’re going to explore them all! How tall, round, extended, rotated or bent from our sides that we can be gives us more power & control during exercise. Let’s see what we can feel when we put the focus on working toward these particular shapes… And, lookout for combo shapes!"

On the Reformer, please have a ball, Magic Circle and your pole. A couple of pillows and a Swiffer handle all make great substitutes!
Mat, Tower/Cadillac and Wunda Chair: No props needed.

See ya in class,
xx-LL 💋

CAN WE KICK IT?

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

Side Kick Series and Kneeling Side Kicks are great full-body exercises that require a lot of connections from front to back and head to toe. In your classes this week we will work on the connection of our upper back, glute/Thass®, and abdominal strength to help with these exercises and see how your practice links together. Single leg work on the reformer as well as side body work will give you more information to help you in your Side Kicks. No props needed for this class.

See you in class,
Mindi

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.


I WANNA ROCK

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

When I first started teaching another teacher in the studio I was at who had 20+ years of teaching was struggling with her client. They kept wanting to lift their head to extend. In every exercise no matter what she said their head would lift before their chest. She said "the worst thing we ever did was call the neck the neck." Now, I don't think it's the WORST thing. I have some thoughts on chairs and shoes. But, its up there! If you've been struggling with Swan, Swimming, Rocking and some of our other fun extension exercises this week is for you!

Grab a magic circle for a fun warm up on the Mat and Reformer. Don't have one? No problem I've got options for ya!

See ya in class,
xx~LL 💋