Joe Pilates in typical workout attire.

Joe Pilates in typical workout attire.

I’ve done Pilates naked and it’s not pretty.  I personally don’t recommend it.  That being said when we practice Pilates nowadays we actually wear a lot of workout clothes.  Joe Pilates had people train with minimal clothing.  He basically wore swimming trunks that looked like black or white tighty whities and women working with Joe often wore leotards.  I would not attend a Pilates class today if they required me to show up in a leotard.

There was a method to Joe’s madness though.  He wanted people unencumbered by clothing, although arguably being comfortable makes you feel freer to move.  I’d be really encumbered if I had to do exercises in front of people in a leotard.  Last fall I almost went out in public in a unitard—a near disaster.  Joe also wanted the skin to be able to breathe.  I get that too, but I’m pretty sure our skin can breathe with a little more clothes on.  And he wanted to be able to see his clients better.  That’s helpful.  If you show up to class wearing more form fitting clothes, it’s easier for an instructor to see if and where something is going wrong. Exposed ankles, knees and shoulder help too.  But with experience comes learning to see through clothes (not exactly x-ray vision though that would be awesome) or even better seeing what the clothes reveal is going on in the body.  Clothes often bunch on the same side as a hip hike.  A seam on a piece of clothing that is twisted might indicate a rotation where you don’t want one. Your clothes can sometimes give you away and reveal what is happening in the body.

More important than wearing clothes that form fit is to ensure you are at ease in your choice of attire.  You want to be able to move without worrying about how your clothes look or feel.  You shouldn’t notice your clothes when you are working out.  Even a zipper in an odd location can be an irritant when you roll like a ball or imprint the spine.  So seek out simple, comfy clothes.

Don’t expect to see a naked Pilates class on our schedule anytime soon.  However, if that’s your thing or you can’t stand the heat, by all means try it at home.  Perhaps it will go better for you than me.


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