Those people wrapped in cords, making yoga-like poses on padded machines which strangely resemble wire cheese cutters – they’re doing Reformer Pilates.
And up until a few years ago, this fitness trend only graced a handful of gyms and was seen as more of a niche workout. Nowadays, there are Reformer Pilates studios located within just about every boutique gym in and around the City.
And even with such market saturation, classes continue to book out well in advance. Gyms and studios just can’t keep up with the demand.
These are the top spots for toning your limbs, tightening your core, and increasing flexibility.
The trendy spot to work up a sweat is also the perfect place to up your Pilates game. With studios in Bank, Old Street, Holborn and Farringdon, you’re never far from a class to get your body sculpted.
The studio’s Pilates class is all about gaining control, stretching out and toning your muscles – you’ll have great posture and flexibility in no time. Plus, after you’ve honed your side leg lifts, you can head to a Gymbox vinyasa yoga class to really feel relaxed and calm.
Gymbox also offers Aerial Pilates classes if you’re up for trying something a little trickier. You’ll stretch out in a rather cool-looking hammock, instead of a machine or mat, and dramatically strengthen your core while looking impressive. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro, beginners are welcomed.
71 Lombard Street EC3V 9AY
Ten Health & Fitness
Functional training principals are at the core of this super popular Pilates operator, which has studios in Liverpool Street and Farringdon. Rather than working on individual muscle groups separately, Ten Health’s physio-led approach to Pilates reflects your body’s natural movements.
These can range from plank press ups – sliding the carriage away from the foot bar and sinking down to hover above the platform – to skaters: balancing one foot on the platform and sliding the carriage away with the other, all while doing tricep kickbacks with hand weights. Yes, it can be as difficult as it sounds. Thankfully, the instructors are great at explaining each of the intricate moves, as well as their specific benefits, going beyond the basic ‘increases in muscle tone and strength’.
They even have physiotherapists running some classes on the timetable, which are perfect for those recovering from injury and need a bit more attention. Otherwise start with a beginner class, which moves at a slightly slower pace and will eventually get you up to a more intermediate and advanced level. It doesn’t need to be a baptism by fire.
119-121 Middlesex Street E1 7JF
‘Rhythm on a Reformer’ is the best way to describe the Tempo method. It uses the beat of music to keep everyone in sync and create an ever changing pace. It is similar to spin classes at Psycle which match your pedalling to music. The result is a dynamic, flowing workout with a yogi-like focus on mind and body movements that will leave you calm, centred, but also breaking out in a sweat. Plus, you can easily drift out of the room and forget you’re working out when you’re just grooving to some tunes.
The first half of the class is a choreographed sequence of single leg presses, crunches and flowing glute bridges that, once mastered, feels like a horizontal dance routine. Although, at first, it will feel a little clunky. Instructors somehow manage to keep impeccable time to the music, counting in cues and making adjustments as they move throughout the room. They are both DJ and fitness instructor.
The second half of the session focuses on toning exercises for specific body parts and changes depending on who is teaching the class. First timers should definitely start off at the Beginners Only class as this is a vigorous and fast-paced way of doing Pilates. You can easily get left behind and totally lost. It’s like jumping straight into a professional tango class – falling over your feet the entire time. It may be challenging but it’s also one of the most enjoyable versions out there.
6 Cygnet Street E1 6GW
The Frame studios dotted about the City focus on all kinds of workouts (we’re especially big fans of their dance classes) but the Reformer Pilates sessions are by far their most popular. They are certainly no afterthought.
The basic class will walk your through the moves fairly slowly, so you won’t feel like you’re getting all tangled up while sliding back and forth. You will quickly gain some control. And once you’ve got a few of these beginners’ classes under your belt, you’ll graduate to the more regular classes that run throughout the day.
They have a total of six different kinds of classes to choose from. Three exist between the ranges of basic and advanced, while the Power class incorporates more dynamic and energetic sequences. The two express 45-minute classes are also incredibly popular among the crowd looking to get in a quick lunchtime workout.
29 New Inn Yard EC2A 3EY