#Things to Know before your First Pilates or Yoga Class

By: Carla Ricalis

In Toronto, we’re getting ready to head back into the studios. For clients who have never tried Pilates or Yoga before, the motivation of starting a new form of fitness can often be undermined by not knowing where to start and what questions to ask. 

Here are some key things to know about any studio to see if what they have to offer is a good fit for you. 

Instructor Qualifications

There are hundreds of training programs that instructors can take to become well versed in their chosen method. And the options range from a weekend training to a full year or more of comprehensive, detailed education. 

In order to get clarification on the experience levels of the studio and their instructors, it’s a great idea to ask the studio director the following questions: 

Are your instructors certified and if so, under what program?

Strong certification programs are rigorous and comprehensive, detailing hundreds of exercises on each piece of Pilates equipment or in their chosen Yoga type. 

A strong certification program will have an additional component of functional anatomy and injury/conditions overview in order for students to better comprehend how to modify for clients with specific needs. 

If you’re going to a Pilates studio that is fully equipped with the Reformer, Barrels, Cadillac and Stability Chair, it makes sense to work with an instructor who is qualified to teach on all pieces. 

That said, because many of the certification courses are huge financial commitments, some Pilates instructors will opt to certify in the Mat and Reformer first and establish their clientele. Then, they’ll progress into the Cadillac, Chair and Barrels certification in order to expand their client offerings and education. 

It’s common for a rigorous certification program to require at least 400 or more hours of learning, supervised teaching and observation in order for students to earn their certificate in Pilates or Yoga. 

Have they worked with someone with my specific condition before? 

If you’ve been referred to Pilates because of an injury or condition, ask if both instructor or the studio team have experience working with individuals who have similar programming focuses. 

While not all instructors have worked with every type of injury or condition known, if other team members have knowledge in that area, you should be confident that a close collaboration and mentorship amongst the studio team is in place in order to provide you with the best programming and training possible. 

Space

Even prior to the pandemic, getting a sense of the studio space is important. Asking the following questions will give you a better idea of space management and commitment to client comfort and safety:

Is there ever an issue accessing the equipment? 

There should never be a lack of equipment for you to train on. If a studio can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to access at least one piece of equipment then this might be indicative that they’re booking too many people in at the same time. If possible, try to book in during the off peak times in order to enjoy more variety and accessibility during your session. 

How many people are in your group classes?

If adding group classes into your schedule is the goal, ask how many people are allowed to participate. Bigger classes will often have a more generalized focus and programming, while smaller classes will be more adaptable and focused, but can often have a higher price tag because of the reduced numbers.

Is there an opportunity to tour the space before?

If you can, go in and see the space – for many clients visiting the facility and meeting their instructor or studio manager is often the best way to make an informed decision. 

A pride of place will show up in the cleanliness, use of space and care of equipment. And this firmly translates into the type of experience that the studio is trying to consistently provide for their clients each time they come in. 

Studio Policies and Cleaning Protocols

Lastly, make note about the studio policies and the steps taken to ensure cleanliness. Now, more than ever, this is important for those who want to be confident training in a shared space. Whether it’s a small or larger facility, studio managers expect to be asked these standard questions below by new and returning clients. 

What if I can’t make a class that I’ve booked?

Within the fitness industry, cancellation policies that fall between 24-48 hours are generally standard practice. Getting clarification on what the policy is for your studio and the steps you need to take to cancel (ie: do you contact the instructor, front desk or is it done online?) will ensure that there are no miscommunications and full transparency should the need ever come up. 

How long do I have to use the package that I purchased?

Most studios will have an expiration date on purchased packages. Some studios will be generous in the amount of time they give, while others will be more aggressive to encourage consistency and a weekly routine. 

Figure out what you’re able to commit to weekly and make sure that the package you purchase allows for that. For example, if you know that you can easily commit to two sessions each  week, then ensure the package expiration is at least 5 weeks or longer. 

Similarly, it’s a good idea to confirm that you’re able to put a ‘pause’ on your package for an extended period of time in case of unexpected events. Most studios will accommodate clients who travel but will reserve the right to adjust their existing package to reflect a price increase that may occur while they’re away (ie: heading south for the winter months). 

What cleaning protocols are in place in your studio? 

We’ve all gotten familiar with the cleaning protocols that need to be in place in order for that heightened level of comfort to be in the spaces we want to be in. Finding out some of the answers to the questions below is well within your rights as a paying client. 

How often does the studio get cleaned?

Do you allow for time in between clients for cleaning?

What type of disinfectant/cleaning supplies do you use?

If possible, can windows be opened and if not, is there a proper ventilation system in place? 

Have fun and be confident when you decide to head back to the studio of your choice. Remember, most studio managers, owners and instructors are keen to make the space comfortable, stress free and enjoyable as they build up their clientele and introduce new clients into the space. But make sure your questions are answered so that you’re able to enjoy your workouts and be confident in your decisions. 

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