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SHEX Workout Reviews: Body Concept Pilates

 

Writer

Sonia Su

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Whether you’re seeking to eliminate back pain or to correct your bad posture from sitting in front of a computer all day, Pilates may be a worthwhile form of exercise.

Unlike what you typically associate with a workout—such as the occasional blood, sweat and tears—Pilates for beginners involves slow, repetitive exercises targeting specific muscle groups, such as in the abdomen, back and hips.

With two fully equipped studio locations in Shanghai, Body Concept Studio provides classes for every fitness level and rehabilitation services through Pilates-trained professional physiotherapists. Body Concept opened its Hongmei studio in 2011 and its Qinghai studio just last year, with its one-year anniversary on April 27.

First-timers have the option of taking a reformer trial class, which is 125 RMB or free with a package subscription. Having had no prior experience with Pilates, I booked the reformer trial class with instructor Dee Rawlins for a Sunday class at 10 a.m. at its Qinghai studio.

The entire class was conducted on a piece of equipment called a reformer, consisting of a bed frame 'with a sliding carriage and adjustable springs to regulate tension and resistance,’ according to Gaiam Life.

You can either book online or call your preferred location, especially if you’re not sure in which class level you belong. Located within a 10-minute walk from the West Nanjing Road metro station on the fifth floor, the mostly sunlit studio feels comfortably spacious.

As soon as I walked into reception, I was told to take off my sneakers. Since the receptionist was retrieving a locker key for the rest of my things, I figured I would wait. Upon repeating herself, I quickly took off my sneakers and placed them in the cubby under the coat rack before following her to the locker room in the back of the studio.

Wearing comfortable clothing and socks, I made my way to the lounge area to fill out a client information form, consisting of questions including medical history. Although the form itself does not take long to fill out, I recommend arriving at least 15 minutes early to complete the form and have time to get settled.

To my surprise, I would be the only one in this ‘class.’ Dee, who has been teaching Pilates for six years, told me that reformer classes are capped at three people, and for beginners, it is suggested that we take three private classes to learn the basic Pilates movements before joining others in a faster-paced class.

Throughout the hour-long class, Dee patiently and carefully walked me through each movement on the reformer. Trained by Polestar, the global provider of rehabilitation-based Pilates education, Dee was able to catch my slight scoliosis and tendency to lock my right knee before my left (my left knee encountered sudden pain whenever I walked a few years back—the reason is still unknown—so I underwent some physical therapy to try to strengthen my left thigh).

Some movements required keeping in mind several aspects of your body. For any given movement, I would have to remember where and how to place my feet, back, shoulders, arms etc. As a result, many beginners struggle with sequences involved in the movements.

‘Especially in the beginning, there’s a lot to take in,’ Dee said. ‘The movement has to be quite slow, because we’re retraining your movement patterns. Some people just want to go… but the thing is, the whole point of Pilates is that you do it correctly and it’s [about] precise movement and precise alignment, so if you don’t have that in a movement, then you’re not really doing Pilates.’

As a result of the initial slow pace, many beginners find Pilates ‘boring,’ Dee said. But after a few sessions, people should be able to do the movements more dynamically.

For me, with so much to think about, including when to breath in and out, I found it anything but boring. Unless you go in falsely expecting to do a Zumba-type workout, Pilates can be a very therapeutic method of exercise, both physically and mentally.

'Everyone has different areas they need to work on,’ Dee said. ‘Most of the time after three sessions, clients say to me their pain is gone or they’re correcting their posture.’

Moreover, Pilates can create more mobility, promote a healthy spine and build a strong core, Dee said. Combined with other sports or just a routine workout, such as swimming or running, Pilates can help to correct alignment, making these other forms of exercise safer. The movements help to work weak muscles by taking away strain from overworked muscles, and increasing your range of motion.

By the end of the class, I didn’t feel any pain or exhaustion. I learned that Pilates, at least for beginners, won’t leave you heaving and sweating by the end of it.

Check out how you can book your first reformer trial class in our listings.

Pros:

•     Studios are spotless, spacious and fully equipped. Refreshments are available in the lounge.
•     I was the only client on this particular Sunday morning, adding to the private and personalized nature of the class.
•     All instructors are Polestar-trained, so they know how to work with your body and teach you at a pace you’re comfortable with.
•     The convenient location on Qinghai Road is less than a 10-minute walk from the West Nanjing Road metro station on line 10 and is easy to find.

Cons:

•     Classes aren’t cheap. For example, a single one-on-one session with a head instructor and physiotherapist costs 800 RMB. Stick with the jumpstart package, which costs 2,400 RMB for five private classes; three private sessions and five reformer classes; or three private sessions, three reformer classes and three mat classes.
•     If you’re looking for an aerobic workout, this isn’t for you. Beginners most likely will leave feeling as if they hadn’t just ‘exercised’ for an hour.
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