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Best of Toronto

The Best Pilates in Toronto

Posted by Dayna Winter / January 20, 2011

Pilates in TorontoThe Best pilates studios in Toronto challenge inventor Joseph Pilates' vision by reinventing the practice with a contemporary twist and fusing it with yogic and martial arts inspired movements. While true to the traditional strength and flexibility building exercises, our city's studios take their own spin, making pilates accessible to our diverse masses.

Named for Mr. Pilates himself, the fitness system was initially developed in a hospital for the purposes of physical therapy. Until I was aware of the clinical roots of pilates, the associated equipment terrified me with its resemblance to medieval torture devices. "The Cadillac", a particularly frightening beast, would more aptly be named "The Rack". But there's nothing to fear, darlings. The equipment is designed to assist clients through pilates movements and is especially useful in rehabilitation. It aims to heal, not harm.

Pilates virgins can just start with less-intimidating mat classes, though (like yoga with more props and pulsing), working up to the BDSM-esque contraptions. I'm still uneasy with all of the straps and pulleys and considering my history of bad coordination, I'll stick with my mat thank-you-very-much. While I'm not crossing the floor just yet (I'm a hot yoga girl myself), two weeks of pilates have done me good. If, like me, your posture resembles a croissant, read on.

Here are the best pilates studios in Toronto.

See also: the best yoga studios in Toronto.

Body Harmonics

Body Harmonics

Body Harmonics – with its two Toronto studios and 14 years of experience – easily tops our list. By phone, instructor Georgia Burns tells me that the studio is actually known outside of the GTA – internationally, in fact - for its teacher training programs. Body Harmonics has even developed their own certification and training manuals. For the rest of us, there are over 50 group classes to choose from, some specific to teens or “starving artists” (read - cheap) and others fusing elements of pilates with cardio. An unlimited intro week including a private consult will run you $45. Best for instructor wannabes. More »

Core Studio

Core Studio

This hip Queen West space boasts newly renovated studios for hot yoga, mat pilates and machine classes. There’s something to be said for atmosphere, and apart from a beach, I can’t think of a better backdrop for a good stretch than exposed brick and views of the Toronto skyline. Affable studio owner Monica Plewes warmly welcomes a mixed bag of clientele that only Queen West can provide. Best for early risers (I hear the sunrise view is divine). More »

Pilates for Life

Pilates for Life

Yorkville’s Pilates For Life has been providing group mat classes and private in-studio or at-home sessions to the area’s busy business types for 7 years. In addition to yoga, prenatal and pilates classes, the studio has added Ballet to its schedule for 2011. The use of props makes classes fun and assists pilates virgins through more challenging moves. Best for post-work workouts and shut-ins. More »

The Loft Pilates Studio

The Loft Pilates Studio

The Loft feels a lot like my Physiotherapist’s office. That’s not a bad thing for a studio that specializes in restorative pilates and workouts tailored to healing. Trisha tells me that the focus is anatomy-based and teachers have a broad knowledge of the human body. Clients recovering from injuries are often referred from doctors or chiropractors for private rehabilitative sessions. But the bright Junction studio also hosts group mat and machine classes. Best for nursing aches and pains. More »

STOTT PILATES

STOTT PILATES

The STOTT PILATES brand immediately comes to mind when I think of pilates. It’s not only one of Toronto’s largest and busiest studios, it’s also a state of mind. STOTT PILATES is a contemporary approach to the original pilates method, and has inspired developments in training and equipment for over 20 years. STOTT PILATES trains instructors in studios across the city. Group classes, including mat work, reformer and circuit training, are so busy that even the Christmas Eve class was full. A free intro class allows for a no-risk inauguration into the practice. Best for athletes and teachers in training. More »

Retrofit Pilates

Retrofit Pilates

This 11-year Bloor West Village studio is one of the largest on the list, accommodating up to 18 participants in mat classes and 11 in the upstairs reformer studio. The vibe here is fun, and the use of lots of props makes the workouts accessible to all levels. Traditional and specialized classes (like Yoga Fusion and Bikini Bootcamp) fill the 7-day schedule. Clients know each other by name, and staffers encourage bringing a friend. Best for gal-pals. More »

Shas Yoga & Pilates

Shas Yoga & Pilates

Lisa Beaulieu’s tiny studio occupies clinical space on the Annex/Yorkville border. Small classes and individual attention mean no slacking – Lisa is technique-focused and wants to make sure you’re getting the most from your workout. As her first love is yoga, pilates classes will tend to incorporate the odd sun salutation or downward dog. Shas offers off-site classes to corporate groups as well, giving office drones an alternative to wasting the lunch hour on Facebook. Best for 9-to-5-ers and perfectionists. More »

Mindful Movement Centre

Mindful Movement Centre

Owner Leslie is immediately welcoming, putting fresh faces at ease (once they actually find the sign-less Yorkville space). Her enthusiasm for movement is so infectious that she’s even converted her retired (and once-skeptical) Dad. Mat and reformer studios accommodate intimate group and private sessions. Little extras include a guest nutritionist speaker series, meditation, and specialty classes infusing yoga with martial arts. Best for naysayers. More »

Inner Hero Pilates

Inner Hero Pilates

While most Toronto studios occupy above-store space or units in clinical low-rise office buildings, Inner Hero shares gorgeous waterfront digs with the National Ballet of Canada. While I don’t have much purpose for slinking south under the Gardiner in winter (I’m not much of an ice-skater these days), Inner Hero is yet another reason not to forget the waterfront. Limited scheduled group classes are on the menu along with private group and individual sessions. Best for ballerina hopefuls (not really). More »

Sagrario

Sagrario

Sagrario’s decor – black floors and Asian-inspired accents – gave it a dojo vibe and I wondered if I mistakenly signed up for a martial arts class. The group class was male-dominated and the old boys punctuated the instruction with ribbing each other for sloppy postures. Laughter is encouraged. Owner Sagrario Castilla teaches the Fletcher method, an “organic, movement-based” approach to the traditional pilates method. I enjoyed the class for its level of challenge and full-body workout (there were several movements just targeting feet). Best for men and the not-so-serious set. More »

Discussion

25 Comments

Sandy / January 20, 2011 at 10:26 am
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Imprint Pilates on Spadina near King is very good, although I haven't been to any of these others for comparison. It's quite small, just 3 reformer machines, 1 cadillac and space for mats, and they do only private and semi-private sessions. The trainers get to know you and work on your weaknesses, I've seen a huge improvement in some problem areas in the months that I've been going there. They also offer physiotherapy and massage therapy in two small rooms off the studio, not very fancy but the RMT is good.
Marie / January 20, 2011 at 11:23 am
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I've been going to Riverdale Pilates on the Danforth for the past 2 years and I love it! I highly recommend it!
Moi / January 20, 2011 at 11:28 am
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Nice. Inner Hero Pilates right near me:)
Going to check it out for sure
http://www.innerheropilates.com/
ringerbell / January 20, 2011 at 11:47 am
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Could we not have chosen a reviewer with more than two weeks of Pilates experience?
TO runs / January 20, 2011 at 02:17 pm
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can you please do a best of on indoor running tracks in Toronto? this would be relevant during this time of year given that a lot of runners are training for the Goodlife marathon in May right now and are forced indoors due to dangerous icy conditions.
There are some women in Toronto who don't do pilates or yoga (or whatever the latest trend in "exercise" is right now).
Regina replying to a comment from TO runs / January 20, 2011 at 03:47 pm
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I believe the latest trend in "exercise" that women don't really stick to is now Zumba.
deborah / January 20, 2011 at 04:24 pm
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good round up - i love body harmonics pilates studio. what i find interesting about pilates is that it's not actually a trend - it's been around since the 1950s. great to see indie, dedicated pilates studios chosen, instead of big box places that offer "pilates".
Debbie Smith / January 21, 2011 at 04:03 am
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CORE is my Number 1 pick! I've been taking pilates there for more than four years. They have an amazing variety of mat and reformer classes — everything from butt-kicking workouts to slower, more technical classes that get you to focus on and tone parts of your body that you never knew existed. And the instructors are incredible! They're fun, energetic, welcoming, and encouraging, and do they ever know their stuff! They'll give you individual attention even in group classes, adapt exercises for you if you're injured, and make sure that you're getting the most out of your workouts. And, CORE offers private, corporate, or condo sessions, as well as yoga classes. You could spend hours a day there and never get bored!
Mae / January 21, 2011 at 06:06 am
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At Shas Yoga and Pilates. I have been wanting to enroll with this kind of studio since they offer a a unique studio which has safe,well organized and nice place where you can do your workout. Keep Going!
Mae / January 21, 2011 at 06:07 am
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At Shas Yoga and Pilates. I have been wanting to enroll with this kind of studio since they offer a a unique studio which has safe,well organized and nice place where you can do your workout. Keep Going!
karen / January 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm
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Love Body Harmonics! Not surprised to see them voted #1. Free parking at Dupont location. Love it.
Jane / January 24, 2011 at 11:22 am
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I, like Sandy, have been attending Imprint Pilates for the past 3 years. The vibe is at this small studio is amazing, friendly and most of all fun, my instructor is knowledgeable and has been able to modify my sessions to adapt to my various injuries. If you need one-on-one instruction, this is the place to goto.
Barbara Ruttan / January 25, 2011 at 01:00 pm
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Congratulations to everyone at Retrofit Pilates! What a great write-up.
This is an amazing and most worthwhile accomplishment.
Keep up the good work.
Cheers,
Barbara
Dayna replying to a comment from ringerbell / February 7, 2011 at 09:41 am
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@ringerbell, "The two weeks of Pilates have done me good" only refers to my two weeks of "research" and does not intend to mean that it is my FIRST two weeks ever. Poor wording, i guess. I have taken Pilates classes in the past. Also, to be clear, the Best of Toronto posts are not "reviews" necessarily, but are more of a report on winners chosen by readers. I alwasy participate in whatever I am covering for this site, so that I can offer a personal experinece point of view to readers, even if I'm not an "expert". (Ugh, so many quotation marks! :)
Manuela Soares / April 16, 2011 at 08:52 pm
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Are the 'best of's' nominated or does Dayna Winter search them out. I'm curious since I didn't see any Pilates studios listed or recommended that were located east of Yonge. I have a small Pilates/Fitness studio (Ki Pilates Fitness Studio) at Gerrard and Woodbine. There is a huge population that lives in the east and has very little to choose from. Check it out!

Faren MacDonald / August 10, 2012 at 04:09 pm
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Another great studio to check out in the beautiful Rosedale area is EDEN PILATES. We have group classes, semi-private and private sessions! Including in-home sessions. All the instructors have at least the full comprehensive STOTT Pilates certification, and professional dance backgrounds.

Check out our facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/EDENPILATES, or follow our blog, http://edenpilates.blogspot.ca/2012/06/connecting-from-inside-out-secret-to.html

Dina Mei / September 25, 2012 at 09:53 am
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Are the 'best of's' nominated and by who?? I have a studio located north of Toronto in Richmond Hill/Thornhill called Pilates Bodies by Dina that won 2 Reader's Choice Awards 2011 in our first year of business. I have been teaching for over 12 years now. Our clientelle comes from Markham,Unionville,Woodbridge,Aurora,Thornhill and Richmond Hill. We would love if Dayna came and took one of our many different classes we offer.
Alison Crouch / September 25, 2012 at 04:51 pm
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Boomerang PIlates would love a visit too! Classes, semi's and privates on Roncesvalles for novices and experienced pilates clients, including pre- and post natal classes. And just as a side note, pilates is great for distance runners!
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm
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At Shas Yoga and Pilates. I have been wanting to enroll with this kind of studio since they offer a a unique studio which has safe,well organized and nice place where you can do your workout. Keep Going!
Alex / November 25, 2012 at 02:29 pm
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This is a great list, but I'd have to add Pilates North™ to it as it is one of the best studios in the GTA. The instructors have an unparalleled knowledge and the classes are small (max 8/9 people, sometimes less), so you get one-on-one attention. They offer a variety of classes and special workshops to take. Pilates North™ has been in business over 13 years and they are the only Pilates Studio in York Region offering Reformer classes. The main reason I keep going back to the studio is because of the extremely positive and encouraging atmosphere that I haven’t experienced anywhere else. When I came across this list I felt I had to share Pilates North because they welcome anyone interested in Pilates, at any level of fitness, at any age to the studio. I love it there!
It’s located just north of Highway 7 off Yonge
Ariella / March 11, 2013 at 01:05 pm
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A well written and concise introduction to the origins of the practice, but it would also be helpful if the author indicated which studios practice the “classical” method of Pilates, and which ones practice “imprinting” as these are two very different approaches. The classical method is simply the following of Joseph’s original method of maintaining a neutral spine or natural “S” shape of the spine to maximize core strength and minimize overuse injuries. This method can also be modified for beginners by simply shortening levers, rather than straining hip flexors and quadriceps. It also never shifts the focus away from the importance of maintaining a neutral S-shape of the spine and/or neutral pelvis (as opposed to “imprinting”), as a neutral posture is the strongest and most balanced position, and hence “the happiest position” for the body. It should be noted that at any level, a Mat class can be much more challenging for the core than one using props or machines as there are no assistive devices to support the levers that challenge the core. In addition to a variety of fitness classes that focus on strengthening all muscle groups, we practice the classical method of Pilates on a mat at www.fitnessworksforwomen.ca and work with a wide range of abilities. We’re located in the Beach, at Queen and Lee.

Gina S / March 17, 2013 at 07:50 am
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I believe if you came a little north you would find the best Pilates Studio. Pilates Bodies by Dina offers the most innovative and challenging of classes that I've experienced in my 8 years of doing Pilates. I had been taking classes in the GTA for several years and was liking them but my work got relocated to the 905 and I needed to find somewhere close so that I could go from work. A colleague of mine suggested Dina and I've never been happier. I've been attending 3 classes a week for almost 2 years and i'm completely shocked how each and every class is different, challenging and extremely innovative. I've recently added a "suspension pilates" class and just Love It!!!! All the ladies that teach are extremely friendly and educated. It seems that Pilates Bodies by Dina is always offering the "newest" core related workshops and classes that I read about in Fitness Magazines. Come to Richmond Hill and see what i'm talking about.
Joan / May 23, 2013 at 09:57 pm
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Pilates is one of the gentlest programs to use in combination with physiotherapy – post injury and is extremely successful in preventing injuries.

Personal Best Physiotherapy integrates hands-on therapy with a safe and effective exercise program for rehabilitation, pilates.

This summer, we're introducing group mat pilates classes every Saturday at our studio on Merton Street.

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Julia / April 26, 2014 at 11:45 am
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HI there, I wanted to introduce our studio Inhabit Pilates and Movement to you. We serve the Annex, Wychwood, and St. Clair neighbourhoods in a stylin' studio featuring 23 classes a week. Thank you for all the attention to the life changing practice of Pilates, and I invite you to come and meet us. Best, Julia

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