e’d be surprised if you can find someone who extols the virtues of Pilates and yoga equally, even though many of us would be hard pushed to explain the difference between them. The former owes its capital letter to one Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer who developed his method early in the 20th century, although the man himself called it ‘Contrology’. Pilates’ exercises are focused on developing core strength and efficient movement habits while yoga, although its poses do develop core strength, revolves more around stretching and flexibility; perhaps it’s fair to say that Pilates leans towards gaining control and yoga is more about letting go. Whatever camp you’re in, both are brilliant body/mind disciplines so we’d encourage you to give Pilates a try if it’s new to you, or if you’re not sure about yoga. Here are some of the best places in London to take Pilates classes.
Bootcamp Pilates, Notting Hill
‘You Are 50 Minutes Away From The Best Body Of Your Life’. Quite the opener. Followed by: ‘Tired of Exercise Regimes that Over-Promise and Under-Deliver?’ Definitely, Yes, We Agree. Bootcamp Pilates promises to remove workout remorse so head to its Notting Hill studio for a Dynamic Reformer Pilates group class, using Joseph Pilates’ original principles “executed in a sequence of energetic and invigorating exercises that focus on building strength, increasing flexibility and improving your posture”. The springs and straps on the reformer minimize the impact on joints while also toning the body. As JP himself said, after one session you’ll feel the difference; after 10 sessions you’ll see the difference. There is also a Richmond studio for those further out.
Classes from £15 for new clients, membership from £105 per month, bootcamppilates.com
Ten Health & Fitness, across London
It may now be Ten Health & Fitness, with Pilates, PT sessions, physio and massage on offer across ten sites, but back when the company launched in 2007 with one studio, it was known as TenPilates. Classes range from level-dictated (beginner, intermediate, advanced) to themed: try pre/post-natal, Jumpboard or Circuit classes to mix up your workout. Ten seems determined to make taking care of your body as easy as can be: its sites are open seven days a week, from early to late on weekdays; a no-membership, pay-as-you-go model offers great flexibility; and in-house physios and sports massage therapists mean you can’t justify ignoring that niggle. Focus on chasing endorphins with Ten’s experts in Chiswick, the City, Hatton Garden, Little Venice, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Notting Hill Gate, St James’ or Tottenham Court Road.
Classes from £17.50, monthly passes from £135, ten.co.uk
Pilates in the Clouds, Kensington
If you manage to secure a class, let us know. We found out about Pilates in the Clouds (and were immediately won over by its calming name) via Harper’s Bazaar: reportedly Royal Ballet dancers are among PITC’s legion of fans. This studio, founded by Lauren Masaoka, has no website and limited social media presence; it’s a word-of-mouth hit among those in the know and has a waiting list for its sought-after classes. On its Instagram account @ShaninaMShaik, @Xenia and @JourdanDunn all make an appearance (with a casual 6.5 million followers between them), proof that the PITC team has experience honing the bodies of the world’s most famous women – and we’d imagine men too.
Send an Instagram DM to @pilatesintheclouds or email email@example.com
FORM Studios, Notting Hill
FORM is a true labor of love, founded by fitness-loving couple Jerry and Elissa – both former professional athletes and now “business partners, life partners and soulmates”. Their ethos is inspiration and information. “We want our clients to not only experience the workout of a lifetime but to learn something new about their body and health. If you are not feeling optimal, this transcends all aspects of your life and compromises your well-being.” Very true. Try one of its small specialist classes, from the low-impact, intense Mat Pilates Plus to Sweatcore (a combination of core-challenging Pilates to improve strength, stamina, flexibility, balance and cardiovascular fitness) and Purecore (a low-impact, high -intensity reformer style Pilates class). Both the core classes are performed on the MOTR – multi-functional core training apparatus. FORM even offers aerial yoga, which the LL team is very keen to try.
Classes from £18, membership £199 per month, formstudios.co.uk
Heartcore, locations across London
This is a Pilates offering that’s ideal for when you don’t have time to leave home. Heartcore does indeed do brilliant classes in its seven studios but it also has a great suite of two-way livestream and on-demand online classes. Which explains why it won Best Online Workout at Tatler’s Gym Awards this year. Classes combine the most effective elements of Pilates, the wisdom of yoga and the joy of free movement to help you transform your body and your mind. “It’s tough, but so are you. And, if you’re ready to move with us, we promise to help you achieve more than you ever thought possible.” Heartcore also does PT sessions at its studios (in Bayswater, Chelsea, Fulham, Hampstead, Kensington, Notting Hill and St John’s Wood) and Heartcore retreats. We are already sold – sign us up.
Classes from £15 for new members, membership from £65 per month for online access, weareheartcore.com
Pilates Squared, Kensington
We like the feel of this one-studio Pilates brand. It comes across as friendly and personal; “Pilates teaching comes in all shapes and sizes. Some studios focus on rehabilitation, some on strength training, and some on Classical Method. Here we focus on you.” Its founder Caron Bosler is an author, trainer and teacher of all methods of Pilates and she has created a unique blend from her decades of training and studies, mixing Pilates, dance, yoga, TRX (total resistance exercises) and strength training. Contact the team to book a private session or a small class of up to just three.
Classes from £30, pilatessquared.co.uk
Exhale Pilates, Primrose Hill
If you want to make the most of all the equipment that it’s possible to use in a Pilates session, while staying true to classical Pilates and its roots, this is the place to come. There’s the Tower, the Reformer, the Chair and the Barrel; find out their workout potential in 55-minute classes, plus private sessions, ‘Duets’ (a private class for two people), online classes, teacher training and workshops which are all on offer at Exhale’s boutique studios in Primrose Hill and North Finchley. The brand name is a good one too; we’d be surprised if reading it doesn’t make you take a mindful gulp of air before a big release. We are also impressed by the recent launch of the Exhale Pilates scholarship program: “full teacher training programs are not always accessible to everyone, which is why we wanted to remove all financial barriers of learning while providing an 18-month paid work-based learning program.”
Classes from £35, membership from £210 per month, exhalepilateslondon.com
Pilates HQ, Angel
Tasnim Bokhary wanted to create an enjoyable place to exercise and the result was Pilates HQ: “Where you can get a heart pumping and core-focused workout in a space filled with natural light – with great trainers!” Pilates HQ can currently be found in the heart of Angel in a temporary studio on White Lion Street – the team is due back in its normal studio two minutes away in a few months when refurbishment works finish. Sign up for group classes and one-on-one reformer Pilates sessions that are fun and high energy.
Classes from £15.50 for new clients, pilateshq.co.uk
Read more: The best fitness classes in London