THE BASICS: Muscle strengthening, core work, reps and some serious toning, all completed on a machine that looks like you could both row on it or have an operation on it.
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: As regular readers will know, I am still a shiny new pea when it comes to pilates, and this was indeed my Second Class Ever. After proclaiming myself a yogi many moons ago, I had stepped over to the “dark side” and actually really enjoyed my first ever reformer class earlier in the week. So much so I was keen to try pilates at another studio that very weekend. Tempo Pilates had the pleasure (or should that be horror?) of my sweaty attendance last Sunday morning.
I set off walking from home (E1) to studio (E8). Now, I am also quite a new shiny pea to east area of London, and I find my E1 postcode pretty much the most edgy place I have ever seen in my life. For non-Londoners, this basically means I manage to find edginess in the odd pair of skinny jeans and a piece of street art, amongst the suits of a very commercial Liverpool Street.
E8, where the Tempo Pilates studio is based, is like a mythical concept of edginess I was not sure I was ever going to be prepared for. I mean- was there going to be a hipster at the gates of E8, decreeing that actually, NO, my sports direct clothing was not allowed into Hackney?
Thankfully this was not the case, but I admit I did swoon slightly at the levels of edginess Netil House was radiating when I arrived at the Tempo studios. A highly inconspicuous metal door into sits right on the corner of Westgate Street, hiding the beautiful pilates studio within from all except those who are there to seek it. I walked over almost doubting this could be the place- but thankfully there was a little sign on the buzzer telling me that this I was indeed here!
I went in, up to the second floor- and was greeted by a delicious beat (can a beat be delicious? If yes, then this definitely was). It was perfect for a Sunday morning- a chilled grove that crept into my soul and made me swagger up to the studio entrance feeling pretty daaaaamn fine (I know you know this walk). Inside, the entrance was a chic reception area, and the studio was split from the reception area by some high, open shelving; meaning that you could see and hear the previous class beyond, as it drew to a close.
I popped my belongings into the little lockers in the reception area and peeked through the partition, to see a class of mainly not-too-shabby men doing pretty scary things that I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to achieve. Including…. A NINETY SECOND PLANK. Yes, you heard me right. I had to talk myself out of bolting out of the studio at the sight of this!
This class of scarily strong people finished, and our lovely trainer Kate invited us in. Myself and another new shiny pilates pea had a quick talk through how the machines worked, and we took our places. Music drifted over us, and it was set to Ibiza lounge bar volume- which meant that we could still hear Kate but could feel the beat through our spine. This studio had promised pilates to a sexy beat, and hadn’t been disappointed so far!
Right, here we go!! Legs up at 90 degrees to our torso, and feet pushing up into the fitness circle that we were simultaneously pulling down with our hands, making for a really deep stretch in the hamstrings. We stayed like this for a while, and then warm-up progressed into placing one foot onto the static bar at the foot of the machine (whilst the other remained suspended in the fitness circle) , and bending our knee to stretch out the glutes, calves and thighs.
These initial stretches saw us twisting our spines and holding our legs at 45 degrees to our torso using core strength. I felt pretty challenged by the time the warm up was over!
I think I mentioned in my previous pilates post, it is quite difficult to give a hugely detailed description of a class like this (although of course I will attempt to) mainly because you are concentrating pretty hard on coordinating so many elements…. Correct use of the machine, stretching, engaging the core, maintaining the right posture and of course remembering to breathe (in through the nose, and a sharp breath out through pursed lips, contracting the tummy muscles and strengthening the core),
I think that’s indicative of what to expect in itself though, really- this level of coordination certainly takes a bit of getting used to, but you will likely surprise yourself with how quickly you pick it up- I definitely have. The key is good instruction, and Kate’s was top notch. She was very precise and I could follow most of the class just by listening to her instruction.
We used the fitness circle a lot more in this class than the previous class I had attended. Some examples included when we held it at arms length and squeeeeeeezed it whilst twisting our torso and sliding one leg backwards on the pilates carriage, creating a half-split with our legs.
The fitness circle also came into use when we lay face-up on our carriages, with our heels touching on the static foot bar. Here, the fitness circle was then squeezed between our upper thighs, and our feet pushed the carriage away from them. This was incredibly difficult to coordinate, mainly because it was tricky to keep that squeezing strength in my stubbornly chubby thighs.
Use of the machine ropes featured more in this class than my previous one, too. We used the ropes in an almost rowing machine fashion at one point, and also whilst kneeling on hands and knees to pull the carriages up, all the while facing resistance from the machine springs and our body weight.
Kate was a superstar when it came to correction, especially to us shiny new peas. She would pop across and move my feet, legs and arms into position when I was doing something incorrectly, and also guide me with words when my alignment was off. I heard her doing this for other class members too- it is always such a welcome benefit when teachers take the time to make sure everyone is gaining the best out of the class.
This class went amazingly fast- possibly due to the level of concentration required! The music and beat matched the workout perfectly, and as we completed a warm down I felt energised, sweaty, full of endorphins and adoring the studio- and Kate even took the time at the end to show me a calf stretch to help with my stupidly boring tendon injury.
I floated out of the achingly hip Tempo studios and out into a beautiful Sunday morning. And no I didn’t ruin it by having breakfast with my housemate at Cafe 338 on the way home.
Ok, I did.
THE VERDICT: Music and Pilates- I hereby decree that this is a delicious combination that you must try immediately! The concept of any exercise is inherently sexy, but boy does this studio take it up a notch. I felt like I was in a cool lounge bar just, y’know, stretching my hamstrings and pointing my toes. As you do. E8, you are not so scary after all!
THE EXTRAS: 3 rashers of bacon, 1 sausages, 400 baked beans (approx), 1egg, 2 slices of toast, 3 tomatoes, 1 hashbrown. NOM.
Thank you Cafe 338! (although seriously get some willpower, woman).