Pilates Studio Rules of Etiquette

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A Pilates studio can be super intimidating to a first-time client.

First, there’s the equipment which looks like it belongs in a medieval torture chamber.

Couple that with the fact that the other clients seem to know exactly what they are doing, moving in sync and in positions you’ve never even considered possible for your own body.

But the truth is, a Pilates studio and workout is designed to work for every body: every age, gender and ability.

While it may feel a little awkward at first, it won’t be long before you are moving right along with the others like you own the place.

However, while you are finding your footing and getting your groove, you can avoid any first-timer faux pas' by using these simple tips for Pilates studio rules of etiquette.

Do you have any tips for newbies, or stories about your first Pilates experiences to share? Comment below!


Tip 1: Avoid flashing the instructor

A typical Pilates class will having your body moving in all sorts of positions, so clothes that you can move freely in without any accidental slips are a must. Wear what you would to a yoga class.

Men can wear athletic shorts or pants with compression shorts under, and women should make sure that everything fits nice and snug to they’re not distracted during class by pulling at their straps or pants.

If you really want to look like a pro, check out the Pilatay Pilates Shop for Pilates shirts that will have you looking on point!

Just know that at some point, you will likely be lying on your back making circles with your legs… I am gonna leave that right there.

Tip 2: Careful of foot funk

Make sure your feet are clean. If you want to play it safe, AND look like a pro, wear clean, grippy socks.

This keeps shared Pilates apparatuses more sanitary, and socks can prevent toenail polish lines on light-colored vinyl. If you do go barefoot, make sure your feet are clean.

If you think you will be able to hide some funk, think again… Pilates teachers LOVE working with feet and tactile (touch) cueing is a given.

Check your studio’s socks policy. Some studios require that clients wear socks, and some require grippy socks, specifically. Studios with a grippy socks policy will generally sell them at the front desk. Otherwise you can buy them on Amazon.

*True Story: A woman in one of my Pilates reformer classes once had a worm - yes, a WORM - smashed into the bottom of her foot. DO NOT be this lady.

(Read: Frequently Asked Questions By First-Time Pilates Students)

Tip 3: Keep your hair out of the springs

Tie your hair up. Strands of hair get stuck in the reformer wheels which affects equipment performance.

Keeping your hair up is also a Pilates safety best practice since loose hair can get stuck in the springs or headrest.

Nothing says "newbie!” like an instructor having to stop the class to unpin your head from the headrest latch. AND, Pilates teachers need to see your body including neck, in order to cue your alignment properly.

Tip 4: Don’t destroy the equipment

Avoid clothing with embellishments. Yes, zippers and studs are super cute and so on-trend, but not in a Pilates studio.

Clothing with studs, zippers or other embellishments that can rip or puncture the vinyl and scratch the equipment. Major, faux pas.

Tip 5: Leave sweat on the equipment, not bronzer

Skip the make-up. Make-up and lotions can leave a residue on the Pilates apparatuses that is hard to clean, and can wear out the vinyl and make it look dingy.

Pilates equipment is very expensive and is a Pilates teacher and studio’s most valued possession.

Imagine getting red lipstick or bronzer all over your Mercedes’ beautiful butter leather. No, seriously, it’s like that.

(Read: The Truth About Pilates: 5 Pilates Myths, Debunked)

Tip 6: Don’t choke your studio mates

Heavy perfumes can be very distracting to others in the studio.

Many Pilates exercises are “breathing exercises” that require you to wring out the lungs of stale air, and breath deeply and completely.

Skip the perfume or heavily scented body washes and lotions.

Tip 7: Respect the cancellation policy

Most studios have at least a 24-hour cancellation policy, some 48 or more.

Find out what your studio’s policy is, and do not ask for an exception. Do NOT be that person.

Everyone abides by the same rules. When you reserve a class, the studio, teachers, and other clients are affected by that.

If you reserve a spot, someone else can’t. So they plan their schedule accordingly and it is a snowball effect down the line. So “late canceling” throws everyone off.

If you do have to late cancel, it’s ok. Things happen. The teacher will understand. But be prepared to pay in full for the class.

(Read: When The Going Gets Tough, Go To Pilates: 5 Ways Pilates Keeps You Centered In Times Of Stress)

Tip 8: Clean up after yourself

Many classical studios require clients to clean their own equipment after use.

This is part of the culture. It helps you to take responsibility and ownership for your workout. Embrace it.

Many group classes will also require clients to wipe off anything that was touched. Find out what your studio’s policy is and own it.

Tip 9: Be open and honest about pain and injuries

Your teacher needs to know if you have any pain, injuries, recent broken bones, tightness or other medical issues.

It is the only way they can keep you safe.

If you are not comfortable talking about it in a group class, you can pull the teacher aside before class and they can discreetly modify for you along the way.


So, there you have it. A few tips to help you to play the part of a Pilates pro, even if you are just starting out.

Do you have any tips for newbies, or stories about your first Pilates experiences to share? Comment below!

Pilatay Pilates Studio MedievalTorture Chamber