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 is a fitness programme that takes inspiration from yoga and has been around since the early twentieth century. 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.
The original creator of Pilates centred his programmes 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 building core muscles and increasing flexibility, has made it a popular addition to the workout regimens of 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 programme types: mat Pilates, reformer Pilates, yoga, and personal training.
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 independently and interactively. As Pilates is an ever-changing workout programme, Gyrotonic adapts with specialised attachments.
Iso Fit boasts the most updated and avant-garde Pilates and Gyrotonic training systems. With specific pieces of equipment exclusive in Asia to Iso Fit, clients are able to develop exclusive workout programmes here. Iso Fit’s state-of-the-art training systems and trainers are able to tailor workout programmes to individual client needs, including pre-natal and post-natal Pilates, sports performance development, or fitness and posture improvement.
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, prioritising 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.
There are also workshops on well-being 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 programme! True to its name, this place offers flexible programmes tailored to workout interests and levels.
Flex Studio, 3/F, Man Cheung Building, 15–17 Wyndham Street, Central
There is no one-size-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, 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 programmes, 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 programmes.
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 Lucy Liu turning to the workout regiment to create that toned and lean body shape. For ladies hoping to kick start a healthier active lifestyle, Pilates Edge designs training programmes tailored to the physiology and anatomy of women. Aside from programmes that focus on building muscle strength in the abdominal area and increasing flexibility and balance, its all-female teaching staff also provide classes on pre-natal preparation and post-natal recovery.
Pilates Edge, Unit 1, 12/F, Wing Lee Industrial Building, 54–58 Tong Mi Road, Mong Kok
VIM Pilates differentiates 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 involves different forms and sequences of exercises.
The studio was founded by two personal trainers who recognised the potential Pilates held as a fitness and health programme. Their belief that Pilates should be incorporated into training and workouts reflects in their instructing staff, who are all active or have a history in a variety of sports, such as tennis, wakeboarding, hiking, and ice skating.
VIM Pilates is also a licensed training centre for certifying Stott Pilates instructors, so you will be learning directly from the masters themselves!
VIM Pilates Studio, 15/F, QRE Plaza, 202 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai