Believe it or not but there’s more to strength-building than flinging a load of barbells around. Pilates is a top pick for elite athletes and dancers because the precise, low-impact exercises do wonders for the core – and it’ll sort out your posture too. So if you wanna help your bod get a bit more bendy and powerful, there’s some great places in London to do pilates classes. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re mat-based, inspired by ballet or involve a load of wacky apparatus – these fun and fancy classes won’t leave you bent out of shape.
London’s best pilates classes
The supercool Frame studios are all about reformer pilates, so if you’re new to those weird springy beds with neck braces and straps, you’ve come to the right place. Their basic pilates reformer class will walk your through the techniques, and once you’ve got a few of those sessions under your belt, you can slide on over to their regular classes. They also do a dynamic class for master core blasters who love to feel the burn.
Various locations. £16–£20 per class
If you’re looking for pilates that goes with the flow, Tempo Pilates doesn’t miss a beat. Music is at the heart of their energetic sessions, which uses reformer machines, along with dumbbells and squeezy resistance rings to get the calories burning and the sweat flowing. The teachers here are on-point, so if you’re just starting out, you can get plenty of expert guidance in their daily beginner/intermediate or high intensity ‘X-Press’ classes – but if you don’t want to look like the new kid, they do a sesh for beginners on Sundays that’ll get you into the groove.
Covent Garden, Hackney and Shoreditch. £13 for the first class, £20–£26 per class afterwards
Heartcore’s got studios in the poshest parts of town, so their pilates sessions are pure class. Specialising in classic reformer pilates, their spaces are stunning – the St John’s site in particular is a beaut – and the mixed ability group sessions feel like you’re getting personal training. For those that like to switch it up, Heartcore also offers barre, kettlebells and TRX classes – but really, folks flock here get their stretch on, especially as the first class is free.
Various locations. First class free, £17.50–£27 per class afterwards
When it comes to any sort of bootcamp, you know the drill: militant taskmasters and gruelling exercises so intense you’ll want to have serious words with yourself afterwards. Well, Bootcamp Pilates is no different. This reformer-based class will really put your through your paces – but at least the music’s good and you will get results. Sessions are also straightforward and use a variety of pilates equipment, so you won’t need to be an expert to try their standard or cardio classes. Just remember to bring lots of energy (you’ll need it).
Various locations. £15.50–£21 per class
As one of the coolest places to break a sweat in east London, The Refinery’s pilates class was never going to be run-of-the-mill. Mattitude is a fun-fuelled, dynamic class where you hit the mat and do a bit of barre, as well as using resistance bands, dumbbells and pilates balls. And don’t be fooled by the studio – it might be cute and colourful, but a session here is definitely not child’s play. Bring along your A-game and you should fit right in.
14 Collent Street, The Basement, The Ceramic Works, E9 6SG. £5 for the first class, £14 per class afterwards
Paola’s Body Barre
With a swanky studio and plenty of snazzy merch, it’s no wonder Fulham’s pilates massive speak highly of PBB. The barre dynamic pilates core class is a mixture of mat-based pilates and ballet barre, and during the 50-minute session, you’ll get good and sweaty doing the kind of moves that wouldn’t look out of place in ‘Swan Lake’. That doesn’t mean you won’t be pushed to the limit, though. There’s plenty of cardio in this class, so by the time Paola gets through with you, you’ll never look at pliés the same way again.
70 Rosaline Road, SW6 7QT. £16.60–£28 per class
BePilates is another one of those gorgeous studios full of strange, intimidating equipment that might raise a few eyebrows, but the relaxed style of the sessions means you have nothing to worry about. They do small group classes (no more than six) or private classes on the mat or on reformer machines, plus a few other curious workouts (Bodhi, anyone?). But once you’ve done all the hard work, you can look forward to the offer of a lovely cuppa.
78a Chiltern Street, Second Floor, W1U 5AB. £25–£32 per class
There are only four reformer beds at Core Kensington, which means intimate classes where no wrong move goes unnoticed. But that can only be a good thing. Teachers are knowledgeable and encouraging, as they lead you through a series of classic pilates exercises for an hour. But all work and no play can be a bummer, which is why you should get down to their reformers bounce class.This fun and energetic session involves bouncing off a rebounder trampoline horizontally while staying steady on a reformer machine. It sounds insane, but trust us, you’ll leave feeling higher than Superman.
110 Kensington Church Street, W8 4BH. £15–£30 per class