Sweat It Out: Stott Pilates

A few weeks ago I was contacted by MERRITHEW, a Canadian company, and the parent brand of the renowned STOTT PILATES. I was very familiar with both MERRITHEW and STOTT PILATES through my involvement at Can Fit Pro and through their development of high-caliber Pilates Equipment, education, home workout dvds, and media worldwide.

img_5245

I was invited to attend a private Pilates session at the STOTT PILATES Studio at Yonge and Eglinton taught by their Master Instructor Trainer Wayne Seeto. Located in what appears to be a regular office building, STOTT PILATES has three group training areas and personal training spaces within the building on two different floors.

20110111-stott-590

Photo retrieved from BlogTO

I’m not new to Pilates, I’ve taken both mat classes, and reformer classes before (not here but at many other studios) however, I have never taken a class on the “trapeze” like machines, so when I given the option, the “cadillac/trapeze table” was what I wanted to try.

st01003

Photo retrieved from MERRITHEW

The studio was a very clean and calming space. I attended mid-morning and a few other private lessons were happening within the same space. When I left, a group fitness noon hour class was just starting in another group training space using the reformer machines.

Wayne started off highlighting the five basic principles of STOTT Pilates. These principles were then applied to every movement over the next hour. Proper starting position, connection to breath, and proper alignment of the pelvis, rib cage, shoulders, and head and neck were constantly referenced.

This class was very unique when compared to my usual training. While I appreciated the body awareness and grace of movement this class was slow, and calming, and that created the biggest challenge – slowing down. I enjoyed the low intensity, but don’t confuse that with an easy workout, it wasn’t easy at all.

I feel that I have great body awareness, movement and observing that of others is how I’ve spent my life, it’s my education, and what I love to share, however here, working small muscle groups in isolation became my greatest challenge. The Cadillac contains a variety of spring loaded straps and bars which are used to perform a variety of different movements which focus on mobility, strengthening, and stretching. I enjoyed the challenge of the progressive movements, but also the great stretch. My hamstrings were very thankful to be lengthened and stretched with my ankle fixed in one of the hanging spring loaded straps. It was just what I needed.

Now if you can’t make it to one of their 60 weekly classes or have someone special who loves to move on your Christmas list check out their Holiday Gift Guide. The gift guide has a little something for everyone who is interested in mindful movement and fitness, from top-quality Pilates equipment to massage tools to stimulate the fascial system, wedges and Stability Balls™ to encourage wellness at the office, fitness products that are perfect for travel and much more. They’ve also added a fun interactive element to the guide. They have hidden a snowflake on random pages of the guide, and those who find the snowflake are eligible to win a special fitness basket from MERRITHEW™, worth CDN$239.

If you can make it uptown, prices at the studio vary depending on class style and level of instructor. Single group classes will cost you $26 and a private class with their highest caliber of instructor is $95 for the hour. For all class rates, click here.

Studio Review: MuseMovement

Last week I was invited by Keri O’Mera, former Misfit and movement therapy specialist, to check out Toronto’s newest Pilates studio, founded by Keri, MuseMovement.

photo 5(2)MuseMovement is located in a former school, now the Artscape Youngplace building, a community cultural hub in the Queen West-Ossington neighbourhood. When I first entered the building I felt as though I had been transported to NYC. The use of space, maintenance of old architecture, and connection to the community was simple outstanding.

Located on the second floor, MuseMovement  resides in a warm, light-filled, converted classroom. The open concept space maintains the original 1914 school charm while providing opportunity for both mat work and Pilates reformer machine work.

Keri basis her teaching on the motto “Move your body, move your mind, move your heart”, a quote which comes from her own experience with the transformative power of mobility and is on display inside the studio.

Move Your Body.

photo 4(3)The class I took was a classic Reformer class. 60 minutes on a Pilates reformer machine, think a sliding bed with springs which add different resistance levels to the sliding part. I had just finished a 20km run prior to the class, and while I was excited for the experience I wasn’t excited for the work (aka pain from my muscles already being so fatigued).

We assumed our first position on the reformer which was face up lying on our backs we warmed up and spine and I made note of the fact my lower spine wasn’t moving much – something I had been aware of for the past couple of weeks. The great thing about using a reformer is that is provides a full body workout which is healthy for your joints, and increases your heart rate while building strength. The reformer machine adds personally selected weight and resistance to your Pilates workout but also supports developing range of motion and is a whole lot of fun. Keri took us through the 60 minute class and by the end my stiff spine felt ooey and gooey loose. The mobility sequences definitely opened by hips, lengthened my hamstrings, and had a positive impact on the range of motion of my lower back.

Move Your Mind.

photo 3(6)Keri is a self-professed anatomy nerd and it’s obvious. Her instructional cues and teaching prompts are filled with technical anatomical language that will only leave you smarter and more self aware as you exit the classroom. Her attention to form and alignment allows her to support the needs and levels of all participants and makes movement a great place for beginners as well as those looking for a deeper experience.

Move Your Heart.

photo 1(8)MuseMovement is a community space clearly filled with love. Keri herself is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity to share her once home business with the greater community, and by simple entering the unique studio space you will feel that passion and joy she brings to her teaching.

.

If you’re looking for community based Pilates studio with small class sizes and personalized service MuseMovement is for you. Ranging from the low rate of $17 for a mat class, and $31 for a reformer (mat rate is FAR below city trend, and reformer is right on par) the experienced and flexible instructors will create a movement experience tailored to your individual needs and wants.

Keri and her team have a special event planned for yogis interested in Pilates. Details below.

muse

Studio Review: Studio Lagree

Friday morning I had the pleasure (although my inner thighs and obliques will tell you differently) of attending an M3 Fusion class at Studio Lagree.  Located at 435 Spadina Rd Toronto, Studio Lagree offers Pilates reformer style classes which are conducted on a custom designed “Megaformer” and as their website states is “the most innovative, aggressive and time efficient approach to full body conditioning”.

  The Studio

2

I arrived to the studio which is more North on Spadina than I usually travel – up in Forest Hill – and found plenty of parking, both on the street and there is a “Green P” very close as well. The studio is well marked from street level and you enter by walking up some narrow stairs to the second floor. The stairwell (which has a sign at the top that states “Your legs may be more worn-out than you think…Please use handrail & watch your step” – eek!) opens into a very modern space of chrome and metallic red.  There are two change stalls available as well as washrooms and self locking lockers. I was told one washroom had a shower, but I didn’t check it out. The facility also offers a large lounge space to wait prior to class and a giant TV which shows a real of news clips featuring the “megaformer” and Lagree Fitness.  I suggest not arriving to early on your first class, because with a giant window into the gym you can see the fitness “torture” (the good kind) that you will soon be enduring. Although if you do, there is plenty of reading material from Hollywood celebs who in various magazines (displayed on the walls) confess their obsession with Lagree Fitness – check out my favourite by Courtney Cox circa 2005.

My Experience

The 50 minute class went by very quickly and as I eluded to above, I was very sore the next day (and dreading my 35km run – which I still did). Now I’m not sure if I’m getting lazy with my strength training, but I’m really loving these “reformer” “gravity” or “megaformer” style Pilates class. Being able to get a great “ouch inducing” workout while lying down is certainly lots of fun.

1

Now, what is a “megaformer” you ask? As I tried to explain to my husband, it’s like a single bed. Where the ends of the bed are fixed and the middle part slides back and forth and is attached with springs to change the tension. Depending on the body parts to be worked, you place your feet on different parts of the fixed end and use your various muscles to slide back and forth. E.g., for a lunge, your front planted leg is on the fixed part of the “megaformer” and with selected tension your back leg slides out as you lower into the lunge and slides back in as you return to the starting position.

The class was a lot of fun and was definitely challenging. You work your muscles to the point of fatigue (lots of variations for different levels) then roll over and give another muscle group a go. As the website states, “Lagree Fitness is the unique fusion of strength, core, cardio/circuit training and stretching into an intense, shirt-drenching, 50-minute exercise experience” and it was. They provide towels around the room and during a quick change I hopped off to grab one. The pace is fairly quick between moves which doesn’t provide much time to stall and rest by grabbing a drink – so be sure to hydrate before you arrive.

The Cost

A great thing about your first class, is that it’s free! You can register online and they have MANY class options all day long from 6am to 10pm. The cost for the classes after your first is in the range of other Pilates reformer/gravity style classes but is certainly the most expensive when compared to other TO studios such as Misfit, Union, and Movemeant (single classes at Lagree are $35).

Conclusion

3

So, while it certainly is “North” of my typical workout jurisdiction, I have found myself a few times now trying to figure out the shortest route from my work to the studio and vice versa.  I definitely suggest trying it out – especially with a couple of friends, so when your glutes are screaming and your face is so twisted from the (good) torture, you can look at someone you know and have a good laugh together. Also, by going with a friend, you’ll  have someone to whine with the next day when your inner thighs are killing – and then together you can head back for more! Because like “they”  say, “Summer bodies are built in the spring!” (and by “they” I mean one of my torture partners seen here in the back, Ky)