Can a total Pilates newbie survive a Reformer class?

Lottie Twyford 15 July 2021
People doing Pilates

Reformer Pilates takes a bit of time to get used to, but it’s a great and fun workout. Photo: Viva Leisure.

If looking at yourself in a mirror as you contort your body on an oddly shaped machine doesn’t sound like a great way to spend an evening, it might be time for a rethink.

GROUNDUP is a brand-new fitness and wellbeing addition to Belconnen. It officially opened last week (5 July) to offer Reformer Pilates, yoga and barre classes for all fitness levels.

As someone who had never tried any yoga or Pilates, and someone with a deep-seated aversion to bothering to stretch after running, it won’t surprise you to know that I’m not the most flexible of people.

In fact, I really can’t even touch my toes – maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution for next year … or the year after.

It was with this slightly dubious thought process going around in my head that I entered the beautiful GROUNDUP studio on Benjamin Way in Belconnen.

Studio manager Allie gave me a quick tour. And unless you happen to live in a brand new penthouse, it probably has the prettiest bathroom you’ll ever see in Canberra.

The lighting in the studio is very tasteful, unlike most fitness centres where it’s more of a case of ‘oh my God, have I looked like that all day?!’


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When you’re on the reformer machine, it’s hard to ignore the full-length mirror on the ceiling – so I think I understand why these decisions have been made with the decor.

Other beautiful features include herringbone timber flooring and a monochrome colour palette, as well as lots of bright, white fittings.

Once I’ve completed the tour, I head into my Reformer 101 class, designed to introduce newbies (like me) to the movements and machine gently.

Pilates

Breathe and stretch – but don’t fall off the machine. Photo: Viva Leisure.

Instructor Annette Read dispels any last hints of nervousness as she gets everyone in the room laughing.

Reformers, she explains, were designed by the man himself, German Joseph Pilates, who was interned during the First World War and set to work as a nurse.

He experimented with attaching springs to hospital beds so patients could exercise while still lying in bed.

While this might sound like a relaxing way to workout, you can definitely feel it in your muscles, particularly abs, glutes and hamstrings.


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Looking around, there are obvious novices and obvious experts, and a range of body shapes and sizes, too. It’s comforting.

To cater for everyone’s abilities, Annette provides what she calls ‘add-ons’ to each experience. She also checks for injuries and adjusts training to suit.

It is a slower workout, but that’s because it can take a bit of time to get into the exercises and become familiar with the machine. Nobody wants to be sent flying or get tangled up in the various ropes and wires.

As the class ends, I’m struck by two things.

First, it was a lot of fun.

Second, I had hardly noticed the 50 minutes fly by. Both are signs of a good exercise session if you ask me.

GROUNDUP’s Belconnen studio is already a hit, and they’ve secured their next location in Yarralumla to save Southsiders the drive north of the lake.

Allie says they are looking to allow casual bookings soon but are first focusing on ensuring their new members get comfortable with classes and the equipment.

Rather than an expensive pay per visit system, GROUNDUP offers access to more than 60 classes a week for one weekly payment. Existing Club Lime or HIIT Republic members can also add GROUNDUP to their membership for an additional cost.

To learn more, visit GROUNDUP.


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