ilates may not get the hype that other calorie-torching workouts like boxing and HIIT do, but there's a reason why so many age defying-celebrities swear by this low-impact workout to hone and sculpt lean and strong bodies.
If you're keen to simultaneously improve your strength, flexibility, alignment and posture, then Pilates may well be for you.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s when he began teaching his method with wife Clara at their 'Body Conditioning Gym' in New York.
It is often hailed as the workout to "strengthen the core," but Pilates teacher and founder of The Pilates PT Method Hollie Grant argues it's much more than that. "In Pilates what we are aiming for is a body that is both strong, and flexible. These two qualities provide the body with optimal mobility which essentially is freedom of movement," she says.
"Pilates focuses on strengthening every muscle in the body so that they all work in harmony together and the body is balanced. Muscle imbalances cause deviations to our posture from the norm (or 'neutral' in Pilates) and can cause pain and injury, so reducing muscle imbalances will bring with it less pain, less injuries, and a better posture," Grant continues.
So, who would benefit from taking a Pilates class? Virtually everyone. Grant often sees clients who have injuries and have been recommended to try Pilates by their doctor or physio because it's low impact and because "Pilates instructors are masters of anatomy."
Meanwhile Chris Bardawil, founder of Core Flex Pilates, says it's a workout ideal for anyone of any age group looking to get their fitness back on track, "especially mat pilates where exercise adjustments can be made to suit all levels. It also compliments running and spinning well."
"It is a really safe form of training, but that doesn't mean it's easy," Grant warns. "I am yet to train someone who finds it 'easy.' I used Pilates throughout my training for seven marathons in seven days, I used it throughout my pregnancy, and I’ve used it post emergency c-section as my rehab. One year later and I am able to perform advanced Pilates exercises daily."
How does it differ to other low-impact workouts, like yoga? "Yoga is very focused on flexibility and long holds of exercises. Pilates on the other hand is far more dynamic and has a focus on strength, and posture making your body functional," Bardawil says.
"Yoga also has a spiritual side which Pilates does not, you’ll just finish classes feeling two inches taller, lighter and more in touch with your body!"
Now you know it's worth your time, here are the best online Pilates classes you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Heartcore, one of London's chicest Pilates studios is offering live and on-demand adaptations of its signature Dynamic Pilates (along with other classes), having moved it from the CoreFormer to the mat.
Classes take place on Zoom and can be booked online or via the Heartcore app, with the booking window closing 30 minutes before each class. The session is accessible to all levels, with pre-natal adjustments available throughout and classes are now equipment-free.
Price: from £5/class or £55/month for unlimited livestream classes and on-demand workouts
How to book: heartcore.co.uk
The Pilates PT Method is also available online, with 45- and 60-minute sessions offered via Zoom, including Dynamic Mat Pilates, prenatal and post-natal classes.
Price: £10/class or £50/month for unlimited access
How to book: pilatespt.co.uk
Core Flex Pilates
Chelsea-based reformer studio Core Flex Pilates has also gone virtual, hosting a class at 9am every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday via Zoom.
The 45-minute workouts are a dynamic blend of Pilates and bodyweight strength training, kicking off with mobility and activation followed by a core and arm blast designed to firm up your mid section and lengthen and strengthen the upper body, leg work incorporating some cardio while focusing on alignment and stability. All levels welcome, no equipment required.
Price: £7/class (or monthly membership for £45)
How to book: coreflexpilates.com
Mayfair Pilates is offering intimate virtual classes via Zoom for up to six participants. Clients are encouraged to set up their cameras also so that the instructor can give specific feedback, while clients can also ask questions during the class.
One-hour classes run seven days a week and are tiered in terms of difficulty (foundations, mixed level and intermediate), you may need some basic equipment that you'll have at home, like a pillow or water bottle to complete the class.
Price: from £20/class
How to book: mayfairpilates.co.uk
Hackney-based studio Tempo Pilates specialises in upbeat reformer style classes to banging beats. Now it's offering mat-based classes you can do from the comfort of your own living room.
One-hour classes run throughout the day Monday to Saturday via Zoom.
How to book: tempopilates.com
Paola's BodyBarre (PBB)
The hugely popular Paola's Body Barre or PBB method is also available online. Opt for PBB's Dynamic Pilates Flow class if you're looking for a low-impact but high-intensity workout that will keep you strong, lean and flexible.
The class works with speed and reps, so expect to improve your posture fast while being worked deep to the core.You'll need your own mat, some hand weights, and a thigh band.
Price: 5 classes/£30 (intro offer) or £12/class
How to book: paolasbodybarre.com
Exhale Pilates London is a classical Pilates studio based in Chalk Farm that’s dedicated to the the original works of Joseph Pilates.
The studio is offering online classes via Zoom, which are tiered, beginner, intermediate and advanced. Sessions include Virtual 'Reformer on the Mat' which replicates the movements of the classical Reformer on the mat, as well as virtual family Pilates classes, if you're keen to get the whole gang moving.
Price: from £15/class
How to book: exhalepilateslondon.com