There is no doubt that having the right workout wear for your chosen sport or exercise class is an important part of the process.
For many years I attended dance classes from ballet and jazz dance as a child and later flamenco and even belly dancing; each discipline has its own ‘uniform’ for practical and aesthetic reasons. Think of the beautiful line of a ballet dancer at the barre pointing their toes in their ballet slipper or of a hip scarf accentuating the sensuous precision of a belly dancer’s undulations and accents.
So what to wear to a Pilates class?
Like all sports or exercise, clothing for Pilates should be practical, comfortable and help you feel ready to participate in your class.
We are lucky that there is so much choice nowadays and lovely fabrics and colours available but as a Pilates instructor, I find it really helpful to see my participants’ alignment. If clothing is too baggy I may not be able to check whether for example they are tucking in their tail bone or their hips are level. Correct alignment is key to Pilates practice so I recommend slim fitting leggings (a firm favourite of mine being The Navy Bee Bum) and T-shirts or Tank tops that show your form – although they do not have to be skin tight. If you are in a studio with mirrors, it will also help you to check your position too from time to time as you learn how to keep your form during Pilates exercise.
Though not necessarily a high impact exercise, you can get very warm in Pilates classes so breathable materials are useful and a sports bra, such as the black mesh boob-bees with mesh inserts is always a good idea – as you change position and do inverted poses support it good!
Barefoot is fine or you can wear socks such as non-slip Pilates socks.
An extra layer to slip on is useful too especially if there is a relaxation section towards the end of your Pilates class and if you have long hair, tie it back to stop it getting in your way.
Some Pilates classes just require a Yoga or Pilates mat but you can use pieces of equipment such as mini balls, resistance bands or magic circle which challenge muscle groups in targeted exercises to strengthen and stretch.
Last year as we came out of lockdown, I taught my classes outdoors and it was a joy to get in the fresh air to exercise again – we slipped on a hat and slopped on our sun cream and felt the grass beneath our feet. The key is to be comfortable and feel good in what you wear so you can get the most out of your class wherever it may be.
*Nancy Englefield is the owner of Lavender Blue Fitness and is a qualified fitness instructor including Level 3 Pilates and Pre and Post Natal exercise As well as Pilates, she teaches Body Conditioning, Dance and Buggy Beat cross-training for Parents & Children. She has an online membership and, when we are not in lockdown, she also teaches in gyms and in the community in South West London. She is passionate about exercise being accessible for all but especially women at all ages and stages of life – not just for physical well being but for the huge and well-documented benefits to mental health.