No, seriously. Witness the magic of doing consistent Pilates.
I first started taking Pilates classes as a way to cross train while preparing for the San Francisco Marathon. As many runners will know, logging miles can be tedious and hard on your body; I was looking for something that would keep me flexible while working out the muscles in my core and arms that running doesn't always get to.
I had dabbled in Pilates and barre during my brief stint as a Classpass member, but I didn't really like it. I've always been more of a sporty girl—I box and did Crossfit, and I famously detest yoga. But after finishing 21-mile practice runs, my body was failing me in ways it never had before. My right hip hurt, my right calf was incredibly tight, and sitting at my desk all day wasn't doing anything to help my lower back. I was already making regular trips to the chiropractor; now I needed a gym that would help me find some quick relief and offer personalized workouts. Enter Maiden Lane Studios.
The Pilates apparatus room(Courtesy of Maiden Lane Studios)
Our editor, Chloé, is a longtime Pilates fan, and she recommended I check out Maiden Lane. She likes that the studio is bright, stylish, and conveniently located near 7x7's office in Union Square; I liked the fact that it's not accessible to the masses through Classpass, Gilt City, and Groupon. Maiden Lane Studios offers classes in yoga, barre, and reformer and mat Pilates, and classes are small, with just six reformers in house (two of them are reserved for private and semi-private lessons). So, the clientele tends to be loyal—don't be surprised to see the same faces week after week.
On my first day of reformer class, I checked in at the third-floor reception, where there's also a small changing room, a bathroom stocked with amenities for freshening up, some lockers, and a large mirrored room for group classes. My class was held downstairs, beneath the sparkly chandelier of the apparatus room and set to soft hip-hop tunes. I laid down on the machine closest to the window (which looks straight into neighboring Joseph Cozza Salon), and quickly learned the foundation for all my future Pilates work: the neutral spine. Trust me, this is harder than it sounds.
Thankfully, all the instructors I've met at Maiden Lane Studios have worked with me closely, taking into account every random pain, tightness, and practice mile logged to create a semi-customized program that suits my body. And it's been tough. During class, Maiden Lane co-owner and fellow Oaklander Kelsey (a slim brunette with the Pilates body we all covet) likes to chat me up about new things to do in The Town, but I'm usually too out of breath mid-pike to talk back. On one particularly sunny day, I watched as small drops of sweat beaded onto my machine while Miranda coached us through one-armed, one-legged planks.
The best thing about Pilates, as any regular will tell you, is that it actually becomes more challenging the longer you do it. With each class, I've become so much more in tune with my body, with the way all my muscles and joints and tendons are connected; and in four months time, I think I've figured out how these things all work together. I even felt myself grow taller as I became aware of my tired workaday posture, and it's basically guaranteed that Pilates will shrink your waist a tiny bit with every session—I know mine did. After the first couple lessons, my Monday and Thursday afternoon classes became my favorite part of the week.
Kelsey take a client through Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST)(Courtesy of Maiden Lane Studios)
For athletes and those prone to tight muscles, Maiden Lane Studios also offers Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST), a form of assisted stretch therapy that can increase flexibility, reduce aches and pains, and improve range of motion and athletic performance. And let me tell you, this divine art of stretching is the real deal. My FST therapist Lauren, a tiny gal with a curly bob, strapped me to the table and showed no mercy when twisting and turning my lower body every which way, all with the goal of giving me optimal flexibility in time for the big race. (If you're going to run 26.2 miles, you want to be as pliable as possible!) Before my appointment, my right hamstring was so tight that getting out of a chair was actually embarrassing; after my one-hour session, I felt ten pounds lighter and the pain became virtually nonexistent.
Two days later, I woke up at 4:30am, made my way to the starting line at the SF Marathon, and finished the race I had been training for this entire year—pain free.
// Maiden Lanes Studios, 80 Maiden Ln. (Union Square), maidenlanestudios.com