THE BASICS: Ten Pilates have several gorgeous studios across London- and the one I ventured to in Hatton Garden has been open only 6 months. Your first class is half price, and you have to call the studio directly to pay for this and book in.
THE BITCHES: Carly
THE CLASS: Tucked away down some metal steps on a road more synonymous with sparkly things than stretchy muscles, I opened the doors into the Ten Pilates studio and was warmly welcomed by the lovely lady on reception. I settled back into a squishy chair to fill in my new joiner forms, and was then super- impressed when the same lady walked me all the way through the corridor space and to the changing rooms- I felt like a pilates princess!
I went in and completed the ritual of throwing sporty clothes at myself, hoping the result resembles someone with a vague idea of how to workout. I was still in ultimate pain following a weightlifting crossfit class the previous night, and so even lifting my jumper over my head resulted in me letting out a small “ooof” sound. I was pretty dubious about how on earth I was going to wrestle with a reformer machine this evening!
Into the studio I went, and most of the other people in the class were already lying back on their reformer machines, legs at 90 degrees to their torsos, and feet in pilates rings (Ten Pilates branded pilates rings, swit swoo!), stretching their legs by pulling the fitness circle back towards their torso.
I hopped on the machine and replicated their stretch. Having only been to three pilates classes now, I am still learning the basics, but I am pretty certain that this is the standard starting position. Just while I was wiggling around and getting comfortable, our trainer for the class, Luke, came over to say hello. He checked I was familiar with the reformer machine and then I settled back down onto the machine and stuck my tired little leggies in the air.
We started with one foot on the static bar and the other still raised at 90 degrees in the fitness circle. We gave the lower foot a gooooood stretch and bend, slowly pushing the carriage back as our leg extended, and then bringing it back in a controlled fashion with bended knee. This simple movement, the day after a crossfit weights sesh was an ABSOLUTE KILLER.
While I was busy grimacing at this first warm-up exercise (doesn’t bode well for the rest of the class) Luke came over and had a chat to me, gently resting his hand on my in-the-air foot, whilst helping guide my body back and forward smoothly. It was helpful to have him set the pace of the stretching, and stop me pinging back and forth like a little pilates pinball. We chatted about how I’d heard about the classes (twitter) and about my aching muscles from crossfit, and I tried not to grimace too much.
What was really nice is that he took the time to do this with every single person on the class. It was a personalised hello, and I was impressed at the effort and real interest he was showing in each class member. I think it must be some kind of pre-requisite that you have to be a delightful human being in order to be a pilates teacher- all good stuff!
Exercises in this class were long, slow and repeated to the point of “NGRRRH!! I literally can’t do another!” exhaustion. Luke would constantly guide us if we weren’t quite getting the stretch right, even if he was politely and gently saying the same correction five times in a row; my sticking point was pulling my back as flat as possible against the carriage, so my tummy was drawn in and my core really engaged. He was patient and kind in reminding me about this correction approximately a thousand times- a true pilates saint!
The class was split into three approximate sections (I am guilty of losing the exact flow of pilates classes, as my tiny brain is busy concentrating on staying alive and moving in unison)- legs, torso, and arms. Combinations were added when we had reached a good level of “ouch” with one movement, to take it that one stretch further before we moved onto another part of the body.
For example, we sat up straight on the carriages, and held the pilates rings between our hands, with our shoulders back and our elbows out straight. We then squeeeezed the fitness circles and twisted our torsos from side to side. This then graduated onto keeping this twisting motion up, whilst leaning back and tightening our core, so we were suspended in half sit-up pose. My abs started to shake in this movement!
Another that was really tricky and worked the arms fiendishly was what I am calling the backwards row. We knelt up on the carriages, facing the shoulder rests. We then came up a couple of inches and kept our body in that half low/half high kneel position (difficult in itself to maintain) and kept our bodies reeeally still whilst sliding the carriage back and forth as we pulling the ropes back into a tricep curl. I had a bit of trouble coordinating my body into this one, but eventually got the hang of it. Luke was always on hand with guidance which made me feel more confident when I was doing it right!
Without doubt though, one of my favourite parts of the class was when I caught a girl’s eye in the mirror and we made faces of exhaustion at each other, before big smiles and carrying on through the pain. I love connecting with other people in class like that- especially those who are normal like me, and there getting healthy and strong even if they are finding it a bit tough going.
The hour was up really quickly, despite how tough I had found it. I wasn’t horrendously sweaty after class, but my muscles felt warm, worked and that good ache that comes after exercise. It definitely wasn’t a fast workout, instead the difficulty being in the intensity of the stretches and holding/repeating them for a good length of time. All I know is that Crossfit Monday+pilates Tuesday = I can’t walk properly until Saturday
THE VERDICT: The music was pretty eclectic, and I liked this fact because I could always sing along to a bit of 90s love ballad in my head, to distract me from my thighs seizing up, and the sound system was cranked up high enough for us to workout in time to the beat. It felt great. I think Luke made this class though- he was very knowledgeable, friendly, non-judgemental and patient in his corrections, and worked us hard. I enjoyed this session a lot and will be dragging work colleagues along in the future!
THE EXTRAS: The week after I write this post, Hatton garden are celebrating their half birthday with celebratory events and some awesome offers. How cute is that?! Glass of vino after your pilates, anyone?!