Reformers look like torture machines and I guess, in a way, they are. I think there’s a tendency to think that pilates is girly (and, by stereotypical definition, easy) but let me tell you that my experiences over at Bootcamp Pilates are neither of these things. Every class I have taken has varied between ‘challenging’ and ‘excruciatingly difficult’ and I have left stronger and leaner with every class. I’ve also noticed amazing improvements to my posture. Basically, I am an absolute covert.
Unfortunately the bike isn’t mine.
I’ve been attending the Bootcamp Pilates studio in Old Street (the only one not in West London, with the other studios being in Notting Hill, Fulham and Richmond) and it’s a lovely little place nestled just off City Road. It’s a basement studio but still full of natural light, with a high ceiling – it’s a lovely space. I’ll admit the changing rooms are less than ideal – the showers I have had there have had weak water pressure and it feels a little dingy, but it does the job. Nothing swish though.
One thing I have always noticed about the classes is that the music is good. Different instructors have different styles, but I am a particular fan of the eclectic mixes played by Ivo Ducros. There’s always a warm up with the pilates ring before getting in to the class itself, and every teacher I have had has checked whether anyone has any injuries. As someone with a dodgy dislocating shoulder and recent issues with my knees, it’s become increasingly important for me to get modifications for exercises that may aggravate my injuries (or cause an embarrassing dislocation mid shoulder press) and it’s a pet peeve of mine when trainers don’t check for injuries.
I also loved that in every class I’ve taken there’s been at least one man, who has clearly been finding it really difficult! It’s great to see men experiencing the benefits of a class like reformer pilates and hopefully more will follow in their footsteps!
I have taken classes with three different instructors, each of whom had a very different style.
I’ve found that classes with Ivo Ducros are the most difficult – the moves are varied and challenging and he sets a good pace for the class. His classes are also always different, which was refreshing for a repeat attendee! As I said above, I also really like his music choices and he pays attention to every student in the class, which can often not be the case in group exercise.
I went to two classes with James Woodhouse and found him a very approachable and encouraging trainer. I found his classes the easiest of those I attended (so probably a good introduction to the reformer if you’re a beginner) and he made a point of coming to tell me I’d done well in the class on both occasions, which I really appreciated. He also very willingly gave me adaptions where my shoulder was problematic which was (again) very appreciated.
I attended one class with Karmen Pirh and personally found I didn’t get along with her style. My first contact with her was when she came over and told me my footbar was in the wrong position (it was my fourth class, and no-one else had mentioned it!) which made me feel stupid and got the class off on the wrong foot. She describes herself on the Bootcamp Pilates website as “strict yet patient…with only a tiny sense of humour!” and I probably couldn’t have said it better myself. The class was difficult but not really challenging (repeating the same exercise until the respective body part had all but fallen off) and I found it a bit boring. It was sold out though, so maybe I just got the wrong first impression!
I have only tried the classic hour reformer pilates classes, but Bootcamp Pilates also offering HIIT, HIIP (high intensity interval pilates!) and a running club, and they seem to foster a lovely sense of community at their studio. Reception staff are friendly (they extended by 5 class pass by a week without charge as I hadn’t had time to use all my classes) and often seen in the classes alongside the students, which I really liked. Classes are £19 (off-peak) or £27 (peak), which is very expensive in my book, but bulk bookings and class passes get progressively cheaper the more you book. They also have an introductory offer of 2 off-peak classes for £12, which is a bargain! A great way to check out the studios and give the workout a try.
I absolutely loved my classes with Bootcamp Pilates and, as the snappy title of this post suggests, I would practice it very regularly indeed were the prices not so prohibitive! Well worth a try – maybe I’ll catch you at the Old Street studio next time I treat myself!
Have you tried Reformer Pilates? What’s your favourite studio?
Bootcamp Pilates very kindly gave me this five class pass without charge for review purposes, but all opinions are my own!