Sweat SF: Everything You Need To Know About Burn Pilates

Sweat SF: Everything You Need To Know About Burn Pilates


Burn SF staffers readily admit that their studios can be, in a word, "daunting." The room's floor is covered in mats, with a narrow runway down the center. The walls are covered in what the savvy might already know are pilates springboards, but to the rest of us look like something straight out of The Armory, with their multitude of straps, belts, and devices. But don't worry! That weird-looking board is actually your friend, there to help you get a terrifically fun and adaptable workout.

After years as a personal trainer and multidisciplinary class instructor, Burn founder Lisa Corsello says that she knew she wanted to create a workout that had the high intensity and fun of some other forms of group exercise, but with the fundamentals and precision of pilates. She accomplishes both at Burn: instructors are constantly adjusting students to achieve the perfect form pilates is known for, while still challenging participants to push themselves in a multitude of gleeful—dare I say aerobics-inspired?—cardio movements.

Using a combination of hand-held resistance bands and free weights, you're able to easily adapt the upper body movements to your current fitness level. (But that doesn't mean you can cheat, as Burn instructors seem to have an eagle eye for malingerers.)

Instructors also offer multiple ability levels of movement for the cardio portions of the workout, which includes a unique resistance band run-in-place—think of it as the running version of swimming against the current of an endless pool. It's a great, and clever, way to get sprints into a strength and precision workout without the hassle of running around the block or hopping on and off a treadmill. It's genius in its simplicity. 

Where Burn really succeeds is in making what could be a drudgey slog of a workout engaging. Let's face it, both pilates and intense cardio can make you want to give up the whole thing and be a homebody in a caftan (which is a wonderful way to be, no shade! But it's not a lifestyle decision to make lightly). But not at Burn: Corsello's got a method to her madness, interspersing the strength work with the high intensity movements in a way that makes the class fly by in a flash.

"What did you think?" I asked my mat-neighbor, another first-timer who said she was trying Burn because it was getting too dark out to run, her usual fitness method.

"I thought this was going to be pilates, but this was way better. And actually fun," she said. "And just hard enough!"  

And that's the real magic, right there: Burn is a workout that challenges you as much as you can possibly be challenged, without ever making you feel overwhelmed ort discouraged. We could all use a little more of that in our lives, right?

Burn has three studios in SF1043 Valencia Street, 637 Irving Street, and 1463 Broadway. A single class is $20.


  • This is not a place for shorts or for loose pants. Wear leggings or sports tights, and you'll be confortable and covered.
  • There's running and high-impact work, so ladies will want to wear a well-fitting sports bra. 
  • You can wear grippy socks if you're shy about your feet, or go barefoot. Most students seem to prefer the latter.
  • On top, a t-shirt ot tank top will be fine. You'll get hot during the class, but you won't be Bikram-dripping.
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