I am one of those people who has always been a little scared of Pilates. My first time taking it was at YogaWorks, around five years ago, when I had been practicing yoga around 4-5 times a week. As I quickly learned, Pilates was a whole other workout. I barely made it through the class and vowed to never return. When I first joined Equinox, the result of my first Pilates class was similar. Despite a year of consistent boot camp attendance, my core was too weak to do very much. So this time around, when I decided to give it one last try, I definitely felt some anxiety. Fortunately, as a testament to Equinox, I have become substantially strong enough after over a year of attending classes 5-6 times per week. Pilates Power was not only doable, but even…fun?
QUALITY OF pilates power: 8.5
Lauren Berman, the instructor, wasted no time in getting this class started. At 4:30 on the dot, we began a standing series, doing movements to stretch our shoulders and improve our posture. The only equipment we used was this fitball featured below — it may look innocent, but trust me — that thing can be a demon.
The standing series took up about 15 minutes of the class, composed of movements like beginning with our arms outreached with the ball over our heads, bending down and placing it behind us, and rising back up. But the real challenge of the class was in the seated series. We did the (in)famous ab-shaking Pilates 100, the 100 pulses in the tabletop position. There were also a number of movements that stretched the hamstrings, which I struggled with in particular. And we did two full-minute planks, two push-up series, and six (!) side-bends.
Overall, I really enjoyed Lauren’s method of instruction. She demonstrated every move at least once, but she was observant of every student in the class and issued corrections when warranted. She’s also pretty funny and managed to challenge us while still keeping us smiling. There was very little dead time in the class, and I came out feeling like I was challenged and stretched.
SIZE OF CLASS: MEDIUM/LARGE
Today’s class had about 30 students, which seemed to be a little larger than usual. However, there was enough space in the room for all of us to stretch comfortably, and the energy was strong.
The difficulty of this class will depend on how flexible you are and how strong your core is. I think that I would have really struggled here a year ago. However, since I do yoga 1-2 times a week and have core largely integrated into my circuit workouts, I didn’t have such a tough time. There were definitely a fair number of students taking breaks in the middle of different movements, particularly the planks.
STUDIO QUALITY: 5
Equinox East 85th is not my favorite location. It’s a bit smaller than others and can feel cramped at times, especially during peak hours. The locker rooms are also not as well laid out as other Equinoxes, and the lack of locks on the lockers is particularly problematic to me. The showers are also quite small (but at least there are a fair number of them).
the bottom line
There’s no reason to fear Pilates. If you’re new to exercising, it will certainly be a challenge for you. But it’s one of the most effective ways to develop core strength and get a good stretch at the same time. Lauren’s Pilates Power class is particularly enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to coming back!
- Pilates is one of the best options for a lunchtime workout, because you barely sweat at all!