Work on your strength and balance at these pilates classes
Developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s – originally and aptly named ‘contrology’ – pilates is designed to improve your strength, balance and alignment through controlled, low-impact movements. Much like barre, pilates can sound simple on paper but these exercises are far from easy; you’ll quickly feel it in your core, in your legs, in your arms, basically all over your body, and if you’re on the reformer, your balance will be seriously tested too.
There are two main types of pilates workouts, mat and reformer. Reformer pilates classes involve the beds complete with moving carriages, springs, straps and other ephemera, which can be a little intimidating to first-timers. It’s a very specialised bit of kit and requires proper instruction to use, so reformer classes are usually kept to a small capacity so the teacher can give everyone the appropriate attention. Most studios also require you to attend a few intro sessions before you can try out the full range of classes.
As the name suggests, mat pilates classes are performed on a mat (making these exercises ideal for at-home workouts) mainly using your own bodyweight to provide resistance, although props like rings and balls can also be involved. These classes work your core especially hard as you’ve not got platforms and straps to help move your body, it’s all gotta come from you.
Whether you prefer the reformer or mat, these pilates classes will have you feeling stronger, longer and leaner in no time.
If you like the burn that comes from barre but also want the control needed for a reformer pilates class, then Reformcore is the workout for you. Created by the team behind Barrecore, Reformcore is a dynamic pilates class designed to work on your power, strength and core fitness by borrowing isometric training moves from barre – arm weights included – and moving them onto the reformer machine. It really does test your strength and stability and it works you from top to toe, so be prepared for a challenge.
City of London, Chelsea, Islington and Mayfair
Club Pilates, the world’s biggest pilates brand (with over 935 studios worldwide), has landed in the UK with two studios in London, one in Bankside and one in Fulham. There are a range of different classes on offer at Club Pilates that mix in elements of cardio, strength, and barre training, with four different experience levels, making it accessible to everyone from beginners to pros. Reformer Flow is one of the most popular classes and it blends reformer work with exercises on the springboard, mat and chair, meaning there’s tons of variety between sessions and you’ll constantly feel challenged.
Bankside and Fulham
Exhale Pilates London
If you want pilates in its truest form, Exhale Pilates London is the place for you. Founder Gaby Noble is all about the classical method here; the classes here are designed to help you find balance in the body, prevent injuries before they occur and achieve a strong, sculpted shape. The studios have all the scary looking equipment, including the reformer, tower, cadillac and wunda chair, meaning you’re able to work your entire body. The classes are always small so you can be sure you’re getting the best instruction and the teachers layer up the exercises so you really can feel your progress.
North Finchley, Marylebone & Primrose Hill
Ten Health & Fitness
Traditional reformer pilates is at the heart of what Ten Health & Fitness offers but the studio has more dynamic classes to ensure that you’re not getting bored. Whether you need deeper stretches, you want to work up a sweat with some cardio or you’re ready to take your mat practice up a notch with some bodyweight exercises, Ten has sessions for you. And no matter which kind of class you go for, there’s never more than ten people in it.
Chiswick, City of London, Fitzrovia, Hatton Garden, Little Venice, Nine Elms, Notting Hill, St James’s & Tottenham Court Road
VITA already has studios in Milan and Knightsbridge and now the group has added a second London one into the mix with six floor boutique studio on Sloane Square. As well as space for personal training, physio treatments, yoga and barre, VITA has two dynamic pilates studios kitted out with Allegro 2 reformers. VITA runs three types of reformer classes – Core, which focuses on abs, Dynamic, a higher-energy full body workout, and Sculpt, which blends in some mat pilates work for extra toning. Not only are you working out in a luxury space, the class sizes are kept small so you really get a lot of attention from the instructors.
Designed by cult workout brand F45, FS8 is one of the newest pilates studios to hit Central London. Following the format of F45, each 45-minute class is different, combining a range of different pilates techniques both on the mat and reformer (think circuit training but for pilates). It’s the first of its kind in London and is ideal if you’re looking to mix up your workout routine or to try reformers for the first time without committing to a full class.
Psycle is best known for its spinning classes but with new class Signature 55, it’s now bringing you pilates too. The 55-minute class uses state-of-the-art reformer beds for a high-intensity, low-impact workout. Expect a constant flow of movement and technical exercises designed to work the whole body on different planes of movement, whilst also challenging your balance and co-ordination, all set to music. It’ll stretch you right out and really get your muscles working for that strong and sculpted look.
East of Eden
East of Eden first opened its doors in 2015 and is a community studio based in Walthamstow. The studio does 120 classes per week, from reformer pilates to yoga and sound mediation classes. Their reformer classes are intimate and guaranteed to get those muscles working and stretching. Can’t make it down to the studio? They also have a big online timetable too, so you can work out in the comfort of your own home.
If you prefer to do your pilates on the mat, head to The Refinery. Even though the classes are held on the floor, the capacity is small so you still get plenty of trainer attention. The traditional mat-based class flows through a set of poses and sequences, and you should be prepared to work those abs and glutes hard!
Reformer at 1Rebel
1Rebel has got into the pilates game with the new Reformer class at a number of its London gyms. The class, held in a dedicated studio space and using state-of-the-art reformer beds, takes pilates up a notch by adding in 1Rebel’s signature low lighting, high energy and pumping tunes, so you can expect a faster-paced and more dynamic reformer class that follows the beat of the music. Get ready to feel the burn.
Oxford Circus, Victoria, Bayswater, Broadgate, Kensington, St John’s Wood and Angel