Though it’s definitely no fashion contest, there are some guidelines I like to provide so that you can get the most out of your Pilates class:
Wear form fitting, comfortable clothing that you can move in
Let’s start with the most basic one: the actual clothes that you wear! You’ll want to come to your class in something form fitting that doesn’t restrict your movement too much. I say form fitting because you don’t want to worry about whether when you bend this way or that, your shirt is going to fall down around your neck. Also, sometimes loose clothing can bunch in uncomfortable ways and/or get caught in the equipment. But, perhaps most importantly, you will want your instructor to have a good view of your spine and joints to ensure you get the most out of your session. So go for something that is snug enough to stay out of the way, but not too tight that it restricts your movement.
Next you’ll want to make sure your clothing feels comfortable against the skin and when you move. The comfort factor is a matter of choice, but again- it’s more about not being distracting while you’re working out. This means avoiding anything with zippers or buttons, or shirts that tie in the back (you’ll be laying on that tie, which might be uncomfortable or mess with your alignment!)
Some women swear by compression leggings and the like because they feel held in, and I’m all for that, as long as your breathing and movement is not restricted during your workout.
Ladies: Invest in a sports bra you feel good in
Did you know that researchers found that, contrary to popular belief, going without a bra doesn’t actually make your breasts sag more over time? So my recommendation here isn’t about health or esthetics, it’s more that a comfortable, well-fitting sports bra that just FEELS better when you’re working out. With so many new and different brands out there these days, my recommendation is to be open to sizing and styles: you might be one size in one brand and a whole other size in another brand.
Cups should contain the breasts evenly, without creating spillage or cutting into your sides or the top part of your chest. Gaping means you may need a different cup size or a smaller band size. Baggy or wrinkled cups are a sign that a bra is too big. Spilling over the top and sides means a cup is too small.
So try different sizes and styles to see how best you’ll feel supported, and what makes you feel good.
Gents: Wear form fitting shorts
Loose baggy shorts might be good for the gym or basketball, but for Pilates, guys will want to wear form fitting shorts- either on their own, or under a pair of slightly looser shorts. This is sort of the male equivalent to women not wearing see-through leggings. Remember - many Pilates exercises have your legs up in the air. Best to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions during class!
Leave the jewelry at home
Not only can jewelry get in the way while working out (rings can affect your weight bearing, and necklaces can fall into your face during inversions), they’re also dangerous for the equipment! Sharp jewelry can scratch or even puncture the vinyl, a very expensive repair to remedy. So leave the jewelry at home.
Go with minimal makeup and frangrance free
While I love a good body lotion and quick 5 minute makeup touchup, it’s best to come au naturale to your Pilates class. Not only does this make for some awesome #nofilter moments, the dyes and chemicals in your lotions and makeup can leave marks on the equipment and many are actually really difficult to clean out! With makeup as well, I can see that women get distracted, wondering if their mascara is running or if their lipstick has smudged. Save your lotions and potions for AFTER your Pilates class!
To sock or not to sock
The pilates sock can be very divisive! Some people are in the “no way” camp, feeling like socks interfere with the foot connection and don’t allow for proper ‘foot work’, which jeopardizes the whole Pilates system. Others argue- hey- they keep you from slipping all over the studio, they keep you from spreading foot germs on the shared equipment, and (bonus) they keep your toes warm in winter!
I think there’s a place for both and it’s a matter of personal preference. If you decide to go sock free, what I would say is that it’s best to clean your feet before class. During a typical Pilates session, you’ll have your feet touched, stretched, and cued by the instructor. Clean feet are always appreciated, not just by the instructor, but to keep the equipment at its best as well.
Tie back your hair
Wearing your hair loose and free flowing might look nice, but it’s definitely a safety hazard. It can easily get caught in the springs or hinges of the equipment or fall in your face during inopportune times meaning you’re constantly needing to stop what you do to fix it. Best to tie it back and forget about it.
Hopefully these guidelines for what to wear to get the most out of your Pilates sessions are helpful and take some of the guesswork out for you!