The Best Pilates in Toronto
The 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 – 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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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’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 »