A month ago, I decided I was tired of wishing my body would be stronger and fitter, so I did something about it. I started going to Core Body Pilates three times a week after meeting the owner, Melissa. She told me it takes only 10 sessions to feel differently and 20-30 sessions to see results. I thought, "Well, that doesn't seem too bad at all. Summer is coming, so I'll try it!" I declared it on social media to help me hold myself accountable, and I dove in head first.

I hadn't worked out in about two years when I walked into that studio. I wasn't overweight, but I was definitely skinny fat. I appeared thin, but I didn't have much muscle tone or strength or flexibility despite climbing the stairs multiple times a day with a 30 pound kiddo. It sure was an intimidating sight at 5am to see an intimate classroom of up to 8 people and 8 pilates reformers (pilates machines). At first glance, they look like a torture devices with all of the straps, springs and cables. I definitely was out of my comfort zone.

But, I was quickly greeted with smiles and encouragement from the instructor. They knew it was my first time (the benefit of a small studio) and the instructor walked me through the moves the whole way through. In fact, they still do that for every class. I've been to classes at gyms where there's 30 women crammed into a room and you're fighting for the last yoga mat. So, this was refreshing compared to that. 

The first week was the roughest. I wasn't used to waking up at 4:15am, and it was obvious how weak I was. Not to mention, there was a lot of new vocabulary I wasn't familiar with. Pilates classes are one hour long and give you a full body workout focusing on strength building, flexibility, balance and cardio. But what you don't expect is that the first month is a bit of a mental workout too because you are concentrating on getting the moves down, interpreting new words and, of course, simply trying to keep your stamina up. 

But it's sooooo worth it. I've already lost five pounds, I can see that my back looks stronger, my arms aren't as jiggly and my love-handles are disappearing. My pants are fitting better and my family and friends are starting to notice a change too. Most importantly, I just feel much better and stronger. I look forward to going to pilates whereas before I dreaded the thought of working out. I can't wait to see what the next month brings for me.

I wrote out a helpful little list of advice from the perspective of being a newbee. You might appreciate these tips if you're planning on giving pilates a try for yourself:
1. Leave your gym shoes at home. You are either barefoot or wear toe socks.
2. Bring a water bottle. (My mouth gets dry from all of the deep breathing).
3. Wear leggings. You are bending all different directions. To ensure modesty, I highly recommend leggings.
4. Go to class about 10 minutes early in the first couple weeks to see if there are any new moves they can demonstrate for you. That way you can transition to different exercises easily.
5. Sign up for all of your classes for the month ahead of time. This will keep you accountable. You can use the Mind Body App or go on their site.
6. Go in the morning. It's nice to get the hard stuff out the way first and have the rest of your day to relax.
7. Don't schedule back to back classes the first two weeks. It's going to take your body a bit to recover and get used to pilates. After a month I'm able to do back to back classes with no problem, but the soreness was more intense the first couple of weeks. I usually workout Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

I hope you have a great first experience, and if you are living Chandler, Arizona come on out to CoreBody Pilates with me!

Photography by Amy Hanen