words by Louisa Parker-Bowles

I have to admit I have never really ‘got’ Pilates. As my husband will attest (with shaking head), I am normally one to jump enthusiastically onto a celebrity-driven bandwagon but this one seemed to pass me by. I’ve tried all sorts of different Pilates classes and usually find myself up the back wondering how on earth the toned human pretzels in front of me maintains their impressive form with this series of seemingly bizarre and inconsequential movements. I once caught a glimpse of my reflection during a particularly challenging (beginners) class and my expression was the same one I wear when friends who work in finance tell me about their job. That is, ‘I think I am impressed by what you are saying but I have no idea what it all means.’ Before resigning myself to a Pilates free life, I decided to give it one last shot with a class at TenPilates. And now I get it.

I arrived at the TenPilates Notting Hill studio slightly nervous about the equipment involved in a Dynamic Pilates class and scared that I would somehow injure myself, or an innocent bystander, with a wayward limb. Thankfully, the classes are small, so the risk is fairly contained. There are three other women in the beginner class I attend and one male instructor whose bustling biceps tell me he has done this several times before. After a brief introduction to the equipment and techniques, I’m away. Each exercise uses the Reformer bed (looks a bit like a low bed with a sliding platform. Or a rather modern and very clean torture device) in some capacity and it is incredible how many different variations there are.  And how many poor unsuspecting muscles are forced to work tirelessly throughout the hour-long class.  We sit, kneel, lie and stand to perform a series of different movements and postures, some with weights, and adjust the series of springs that control the resistance accordingly. There is very little break in between postures so there is a relatively high level of concentration required to keep up. The hour passes quickly and just as I think I am getting to hang of it, Daz (owner of aforementioned bustling biceps) tells us time is up. Elated and enlightened, I float out of the room.

So, what makes this class so good? Like traditional Pilates, the Dynamic Pilates championed at TenPilates is designed to engage and strengthen core and lower back muscles. The difference is that TenPilates also delivers an innovative, intense and highly effective full-body work out centered on and around the Reformer bed.  It’s a results-driven practice that strengthens core muscle groups, burns fat and creates lean, toned muscles (yes please). As well as this appealing list of aesthetic benefits, the long-term health benefits of Dynamic Pilates are plentiful. Think improved bone density, circulation and flexibility as well as improved cardiovascular health, improved mental health and increased resting metabolism (pass me the M&Ms please!). Plus, if you feel like delving even deeper into the tempting world of TenPilates the unique Circle of Care approach offered exclusively at TenPilates guarantees a tailor-made program based on individual needs. TenPilates trainers and TenPhysio therapists work together, to offer clients long-term sustainable fitness regimes that are continually monitored to maximize effectiveness. Given these impressive credentials, it is not surprising TenPilates have recently added a new studio in The City (Middlesex Street, just opposite Liverpool Street station) to their impressive portfolio to keep up with demand.

Despite my initial misgivings, I have been, in all sense of the word, reformed. And after I tell my husband that Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is rumoured to be a fan of Dynamic Pilates, he is incredibly supportive of my new hobby.