Long mistaken for a lie-down in Lycra, Pilates is now beloved for its full-body benefits and fast results. Here are the top reformer Pilates classes in the Square Mile.
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. But not all Pilates classes were created equally. Some use super old and rickety machines, and others won’t give you the sweat inducing, muscle aching workout you really need.
These are the top spots for toning your limbs, tightening your core, and increasing flexibility.
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 & 36-38 Hatton Garden EC1N 8EB
Some see Pilates as a bit of a cop out – a ‘lie-down in Lycra’ workout. But they have never tried Bootcamp Pilates. This is a far more dynamic iteration wherein instructors add extra resistance and weights to the sequences to help you burn calories faster and challenge your stability on the Reformer.
The small studios in Brick Lane only have 10 beds each so you’re guaranteed to get plenty of hands-on attention and correction from the instructors. They’ll take you through a really tough warm-up followed by a series of hyper targeted isometric manoeuvres that isolate very specific parts of your body.
Bootcamp runs beginner and standard classes, as well as Cardio Pilates for those looking to break a serious sweat. The HIIP (High Intensity Interval Pilates) method alternates exercises on the reformer machine with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) moves like burpees and box jumps. You will definitely feel the burn for a few days after.
63 Princelet Street E1 5LP
‘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.