Header image courtesy of Jacob Lund (via Shutterstock)
As we emerge from the dark social distancing cave, it’s no surprise that getting back in shape and working out is a top priority for many of us. And after a year of staying indoors, why not try something new, like Pilates?
Pilates has been around since the early twentieth century, a fitness programme that takes inspiration from yoga. But unlike yoga, which focuses on the intersection of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being through posture-based fitness, Pilates relies on slow but dynamic movements that push the body to its extreme in challenging poses and extreme concentration. The original creator of Pilates centred his program around seven core principles: breath, concentration, control, centring, flow, postural alignment, precision, relaxation, and stamina. In short, the goal of mastering Pilates is to centre the self and to utilise slow and controlled movement to strengthen and lengthen major muscle groups in the body.
And although Pilates does not include rapid, heart-pounding sets like HIIT training, it adopts a similar principle of intense concentration when “active,” both mentally and physically, prioritising quality over quantity when it comes to movements. So if you’re feeling a little apprehensive about jumping into a cardio-intense workout or hitting the weights, or just wanting to try something new to kick-start your fitness journey again, Pilates might be the thing for you.
Pilates hasn’t just taken over the modelling and entertainment industry, but the sports scene as well. Its ability to improve both fitness and health, as well as focus on both building core muscles and increasing flexibility has made it a popular addition to the workout regiments of world-class athletes like Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, Maria Sharapova, and Lebron James. Estelle Neve, a former French national gymnast, established Anhao Wellness in 2012, combining her knowledge of health and fitness to lead a team of professionals that specialise in athletic training, injury prevention and recovery, and pre- and post-natal care.
Anhao offers four program types: mat Pilates, reformer Pilates, yoga, and personal training. For first-timers, group trial classes are $250 with bulk packages at $3,200 for 10 classes or $5,800 for 20 classes. For those who purchase a 10-class package on the same day as their trial class, enjoy a $300 discount!
Anhao Wellness, 1/F & 4/F, Sunny Sky Center, 5 Ladder Street, Mid-Levels, Central
When people picture “Pilates,” the Gyrotonic system is the most common image that pops up. Comprised of a pulley system, the Gyrotoner, Jumping Stretching Board, and Archway, the Gyrotonic system combines the foundational principles of gymnastics, swimming, yoga, and dance. Major muscle groups are trained both independently and interactively, providing a full range of specialised workouts. As Pilates is an ever-changing workout program, Gyrotonic adapts and innovates with specialized attachments.
Iso Fit boasts the most updated and avant-garde Pilates and Gyrotonic training systems. With specialised pieces of Gyrotonic equipment exclusive in Asia to Iso Fit, clients are able to truly develop exclusive workout programs here. Iso Fit’s state-of-the-art training systems and trainers are able to tailor workout programs to individual client needs, including pre-natal and post-natal Pilates, sports performance development, or overall fitness and posture improvement.
First-time clients can purchase a six-session package, ranging from $1,475 for group classes to $4,300 for private classes. These sessions include a mandatory assessment session to determine each client’s individual needs and fit. However, if you opt to sign up before 30 March, Iso Fit is offering a Kickstart package that will give you a 25 percent discount, or alternatively, sign up for their 10-plus sessions package for 15 percent off.
Iso Fit, Unit 802–805, 8/F, Yu Yuet Lai Building, 43–55 Wyndham Street, Central
Flex's mantra is all about combining the mind with movement, prioritizing not just physical but also mental well-being. Founders Anna Serafinas Luk, a former ballet dancer and Heather Thomas, a yoga expert, aim to help clients create healthy and sustainable lifestyles by offering classes in Pilates, Yoga, and Xtend Barre. There are also workshops on wellbeing and fitness for those looking to develop and incorporate healthier lifestyle habits. And for parents looking to get their kids on the active path early, Flex also offers a FlexKids program!
True to their name, Flex Studio offers flexible programs to tailor to workout interests and levels, with courses like Introduction to Pilates – Foundation, BLT (Bums, Legs & Tums) Pilates Allegro, Ab Blast Pilates Allegro. Sign up for an intro course package, pricing at $1,100 to $1,650 for 4 classes depending on the location, or a drop-in class starting at $340 for a group class! They have 2 studios in Central and Wong Chuk Hang, but if you're having trouble making it to class, they also have live stream classes!
Flex Studio | 3F Man Cheung Building, 15-17 Wyndham Street, Central
Shops 308-310, One Island South, 2 Heung Yip Road, Wong Chuk Hang
There isn’t a one-sized-fits-all model for health and fitness, with each individual bringing a different need and experience to the workout mat. Options Studio is all about providing clients with a wide range of options (pun 100 percent intended!), whether from chronic injuries and pain, pre- and post-natal needs, kickstarting a new workout regime, or athletes looking to strengthen their base. Aside from having a strong knowledge of Pilates and workout programs, instructors are also expected to have a strong foundation in anatomy, biomechanics, and postural issues, and integrate elements of sports medicine and exercise management into their programs.
With classes like Sculpt and Strength (for intermediate to advanced students), Jungle Sports Fitness (multi-level), Dance Conditioning on Equipment (intermediate), those of all fitness levels are sure to find their perfect fit! Sign up on their website to book a trial class or trial package, which features five private and three group sessions.
Options Studio Hong Kong, 12/F, 16 Wyndham Street, Central
In recent years, Pilates has taken the beauty and entertainment industry by storm, with celebrities like Yeri of Red Velvet, Son Ye-jin from Crash Landing on You, and the OG Charlie's Angel Lucy Liu turning to the workout regiment to create that perfect toned and lean body shape. For ladies hoping to kick start a healthier active lifestyle, Pilates Edge designs training programs tailored for the physiology and anatomy of women. Aside from programs that focus on building muscle strength in the abdominal area and increasing flexibility and balance, their all-woman teaching staff also provide classes on pre-natal preparation and post-natal recovery.
Pilates Edge offers options of mat ($160) and equipment ($230) based classes, or a combination of both ($2000 for 5+5+1 classes). Alternatively, you could sign up for private 1-on-1 classes ($6000 for 10+1 classes) or bring a friend for a private duo class ($3400 for 10+1 classes per person).
Pilates Edge, Unit 1, 12/F, Wing Lee Industrial Building, 54–58 Tong Mi Road, Mong Kok
VIM Pilates differentiate itself from other studios by hosting instructors trained in Stott Pilates. This form of Pilates differs from traditional Pilates by focusing on a neutral spine posture and thus involving different forms and sequences of exercises. The studio was originally founded by personal trainers Eric and Vichael, who recognized the potential Pilates held as a fitness and health program. Their belief that Pilates should be incorporated in training and workouts reflects in their instructing staff, who are all active or have a history in a variety of sports such as tennis, wake-boarding, hiking, and ice skating. VIM Pilates is also a license training centre for certifying Stott Pilates instructors, so you'll be learning directly from the masters themselves!
First-time visitors can try out a group class for $200, with subsequent visits for $350 or 10 classes for $3,000. Private classes start at $980 per visit, but go for $8,900 for a 10-class package.
VIM Pilates Studio, 15/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai