Lots of people think that cardio or heavy lifting = the best way to get in shape, but may we suggest Pilates? NYC has a ton of studios where you can reevaluate your fitness: Pilates is a low-impact workout that builds strength and endurance. It can improve your balance and posture, making everyday activities easier and more difficult ones (like running and cycling) less challenging. And don’t stereotype it as a knockoff of yoga studios or dance classes: even though founder Joseph Pilates developed it as a boxer’s workout, athletes of all types are encouraged to give the fitness classes a try. Pick up a comfy oufit and yoga mat at the city’s top sporting goods stores and check out our favorite places to sculpt a new-and-improved you.
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Pilates in NYC
Founded by Heather Andersen—a former ballerina who wanted to bring the lengthening and strengthening benefits of Pilates to a younger, more fashionable crowd—New York Pilates is a great place to start if you want specialized instruction in a beautiful boutique space. While the Soho studio is newer and light-filled, don’t let that deter you from taking classes at the original Greenwich Village location: The chic underground studio manages to feel light and airy thanks to exposed wood paneling, minimalist decor, and lush green plants surrounding the workout space. Be sure to review the instructor profiles on its site before signing up: You can select a teacher who matches your personal workout style.
The appeal of Core Pilates is its diverse classes: While you could opt for one of the standard mat classes, it also offers specialized options like Tower (featuring weighted resistance) and Pilates for Triathletes, along with several Core classes—including a six-person jumpboard class, where you bounce while laying down on the Pilates apparatus. Their trained instructors are pros at helping you work with perfect form, and each specializes in a different technique.
Devotees of Power Pilates have these classes to thank for their stellar posture and backsides, and the positive mantra on the studio’s wall—“Consistency is the key to change”—will help you get your ass to class each day. Ditto for the motivating guarantee on its site: It says you’ll feel better after 10 classes, look better after 20 and earn a new body after 30. If you’re wondering how that’s possible without cardio, it’s because classes feature more than 500 moves that lengthen and strengthen muscles without bulk—which means you can fit into your skinny jeans without hitting the treadmill.
“Fitness trends come and go, but Pilates endures” is the triumphant slogan of Uptown Pilates, which has three NYC locations. And with good reason: Fans of this studio keep returning to learn from the experience of their instructors, who have to complete more than 600 hours of training before they’re certified to teach a course. All locations have multiple class options—like private, semi-private, mat, tower, and reformer—but a private first class is ideal for one-on-one attention and learning proper form.
This gorgeous studio feels more like a spa than a gym, with plentiful machines upstairs and a downstairs lounge where you can hydrate with cucumber and lemon water while refreshing with a hot eucalyptus or cold lavender towel. New clients can purchase an intro package for $89 (which includes a private session and two tower sessions), well worth it if you want discounted entry into the world of a super-strong core and a solid mind-body connection.
Offering mat, springboard and reformer classes and capping classes at 10 students, the intimate studio space at Sixth Street Pilates is approachable yet challenging: You’ll feel sore after your first session. But don’t worry if you don’t have a ballerina’s physique (yet)—the group-friendly vibe isn’t intimidating at all. Master classes and teacher trainings are available for advanced students, and you can pick up an intro pack of classes for $100 ($70 off the full price).
Tired of dealing with packed studios and a lack of personal attention during class? Pilates 21 is the perfect place for you. There are just three machines in the clean, well-equipped studio, and instructor Youn Kyung Lee, who has a degree in ballet, modern and jazz dance, is a pro at adjusting your form so you can achieve maximum results in minimal time. For a chance to work on it with her one-on-one, pick up a package of three private sessions ($180).
Want to feel taller without wearing heels? Head to Tone, where you’ll stretch and bounce your way to a stronger bod and experience the mind-body connection that Pilates advocates rave about. Owner Jessica Hope has danced on Broadway and TV, and she works hard to make classes challenging and fun. While it lacks the boutique feel of some other studios, it has a warm, friendly vibe, so you don’t have to worry about the intimidation factor. Bonus: Intro packages are cheaper than most (2 classes for $100).
The mission at this studio is to give you the best version of your body, and who doesn’t want that? Unlike other studios that accept ClassPass or walk-ins, mat and reformer classes are available by reservation only, and you’re placed in groups that are aligned with your personal fitness goals, workout style and even lifestyle. The sun-drenched studio often has only four to six students per class, so personal attention is a given.
Anyone with back pain or looking to rehab an injury will have Perfect Posture to thank for making them feel like new again: You’ll definitely break a sweat as you work with reformers and resistance bands, but not in a way that hurts. Owner Varvara Kalinin is Moscow-born and has lived in Los Angeles, New York and Australia, and she’s well-versed in injury rehab and prevention as well as traditional Pilates techniques. Sign up for three group classes ($30), three reformer classes ($75) or two private classes ($110)—your body will thank you.