What are the best clothes for Pilates?

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29076040 fit brunette doing pilates on exercise mat

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Unlike sports, fitness classes such as Pilates don’t generally have a uniform you must wear.  That doesn’t mean you should turn up in your work clothes for a class, while it’s possible to do Pilates in almost any attire (or wearing nothing at all!) there are some clothes better suited to Pilates than others.

It is best to wear good fitting activeware while doing Pilates. Form fitting clothes allow instructors to see you are positioned correctly, baggy clothing shouldn’t be worn as it can get in the way and potentially cause an injury.

The footware you have will largely depend on where you are doing the class and the type of class you’re taking, for example grippy socks are ideal for Reformer sessions.

Sports clothing prices vary massively, from very low cost to shockingly expensive.  If a client asks me what I would recommend, then without hesitation, I always point them towards the range available at Conturuk.com where you can get 15% off using my special discount code: DONNA15.

While I wouldn’t recommend it, the great thing about Pilates is you can do it in a pair of jeans, as long as they fit well and aren’t too tight or restrictive!

Let’s take a look at what different Pilates sessions require. 

What to wear to Mat Pilates?

Mat Pilates is one of my favourite types of exercise because it allows us to build full body strength, whilst working out with minimal equipment required. It also improves our mobility and flexibility reducing the aches, pains and joint stiffness many people experience in their daily lives.

Form fitting clothes are essential when doing mat Pilates, they ensure clothes don’t get in the way or get trodden on, and they give your instructor a clear view of the positions you’re attempting.

If you’re just getting started and haven’t had a chance to invest in Pilates specific clothing then a comfortable t-shirt will be fine, as long as it isn’t baggy.

I like very form fitting clothing that clings to my body because it means I don’t need to worry about the dreaded flapping clothes situation, where you go to do a move that causes your top to suddenly try and jump off you revealing your body underneath.  Even a simple roll down has caught out many new students, who quickly stand up straight to readjust their clothing.

As an instructor it’s also very important that I can see my students form, baggy clothing can obscure someone positioned incorrectly.

For mat Pilates good fitting trousers or leggings paired with a round cut T-shirt, all of which aren’t baggy, would be perfect.  Long shorts can work well providing they are form fitting and won’t fall down your legs, for example when on your back with legs in the air.

With all clothing choices, keep in mind you are going to be spending time in different positions, often on your back with legs in the air, so avoid any see-through items and gents, be sure to wear appropriate tight-fitting shorts under any baggy shorts to avoid embarrassing situations!

Do you wear trainers for Pilates?

Typically, Pilates is done barefoot, without any socks or shoes. You can wear trainers, flip-flops or high heals to/from your class, but there is no need for footwear during a class. 

If you prefer not to walk around barefoot, then regular socks or non-slip socks are perfectly acceptable.

Of course, there is nothing stopping you from wearing trainers, and if you are doing Pilates outside, that might be your best option, especially on a cold day!

What to wear for Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is another fantastic way to work out and take your Pilates sessions to the next level.  The Reformer is an ingenious piece of equipment that can help you to build strength, improve flexibility and coordination.

The most common mistake people make when using this piece of equipment is wearing loose clothing, I recommend you wear something that will enable your instructor to see how your body is moving and easily observe your posture, something that you feel comfortable in, but that is fairly fitted to the shape of your body.

The same clothing guidelines as mat Pilates apply when using the Reformer, although many clients prefer grippy socks to bare feet.

I also recommend students tie back any loose hair and remove any dangling jewellery, such as bracelets and necklaces, to prevent any accidents by them getting caught up with the Reformers inner workings.

Is yoga clothing and Pilates clothing the same?

Although both Pilates and Yoga have similar benefits, they are two completely separate disciplines. Yoga focuses more on stretching and relaxation, whereas Pilates concentrates on strengthening muscles and improving posture.

Yoga clothing is not the same as Pilates clothing.  Yoga clothing tends to be looser than Pilates clothing, and is usually unsuitable for Pilates, which requires more form-fitting clothing.

Clothing suitable for Yoga on the left, for Pilates on the right
Clothing suitable for Yoga on the left, for Pilates on the right

Pilates clothing should fit snugly, allowing freedom of movement and preventing chaffing. 

What type of bra should I wear for Pilates?

A sports bra will provide much better support compared to a traditional fashion bra, which will leave you feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious during some moves.

If you only invest in a single item of clothing for your workouts (any workouts), make it a good sports bra as they not only make you feel more comfortable, they also protect you from injury such as tissue damage.

If you are already kitted out for yoga I’ve some good news, a yoga bra works just as well as a sports bra.

What clothing should men wear for Pilates?

Gents, you should follow the guidelines above, make sure your clothing is form fitting and if attending a Reformer session tie back long hair and remove jewellery.

As a Pilates instructor there is one thing I implore you, for the sake of your instructor and anyone around you in class: if you’re wearing baggy shorts be sure to have form fitting shorts underneath!  

This can help avoid embarrassing situations involving a combination of your baggy shorts and certain positions, causing you to expose rather more than you (and those of us around you!) would like.

What do Pilates instructors wear?

As a Pilates instructor I’ve tried a wide range of workout clothes and have come to the conclusion it’s usually better to spend a little more for a high quality product.

In particular, low – cost leggings can be a problem when it comes to endurance.  This is what you should look out for:

  • Snug fit: With the range of movements required for Pilates, it’s important to have well-fitted leggings that aren’t going to get in the way of your movements and that when you move don’t keep slidingdown,n requiring you to constantly pull them up.
  • Squat proof: Do you feel comfortable performing squats? Do they have the right amount of give to ensure they don’t split? Working out at home on Zoom is one thing, but when we can join each other in the studio for Pilates class, you’ll want to make sure you can squat without your panty line or underwear being visible.
  • Price: Cheaper leggings often seem to hold their shape for less time leading to bulging material at the knees or lose material around your glutes after you’ve performed a few squats or sat in them for any length of time.

Having tried out activewear brands such as Sweaty Betty, Under Armour and Nike I’ve found the best brand for my needs is Conturuk.com.   

Who are Contur I hear you ask?  They have the tag line “You’ve got it, we flaunt it” and they certainly live up to this! I’ve had so many wonderful comments about my outfits since switching.

The range they have has not only been brilliant for Pilates, but I’ve also used them outdoors in winter and they’ve survived everything my bootcamp class could throw at them while providing me with maximum comfort.

I’m also very conscious of the current ‘fast fashion’ trend and feel it important to invest in garments that not only look and feel good, but that also take environmental and social factors into account.

Contur make all their range out of ECONYL yarn which is a special yarn 100% regenerated NYLON yarn from industrial waste such as fishing nets. Instead of this material being dumped into landfill, it is regenerated for use in clothing.

The result is a beautiful performance fabric that hugs your body, is squat proof and is a fantastic addition to your workout wardrobe.

I can’t recommend Contur enough, they look great, the feel amazing, and they’re the perfect active ware for Pilates, or any other fitness activity for that matter.

You can check out the current range via: Conturuk.com and don’t forget to grab 15% off using the code DONNA15.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for something long lasting, stylish yet functional, and very comfortable, then Contur will deliver.

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