Thursday, October 29, 2020

A Fresh Approach to Pilates at Pilates Circuit Wandsworth

A Fresh Approach to Pilates at Pilates Circuit Wandsworth
* I was invited to try Pilates Circuit on a complimentary basis. While this opportunity was gifted, all views are strictly my own and in no way influenced by Pilates Circuit or any other parties and I am not obligated to post any content. 

* This post was originally published on November 19, 2019, but has been updated.

I started taking reformer Pilates classes at Bootcamp Pilates Fulham in 2019 and never looked back. Before I knew it, I was attending classes 5 to 7 times a week and feeling excited with every passing day about the benefits I've experienced like the changes in my body, my increased strength, the improvement in my posture & balance and my progress with getting better at some moves that are more challenging for me personally than others. I still remember my very first class. I was nervous, a little intimidated by all the machinery and really shaky on the reformer, terrified I would fall off. As it turns out, I didn't fall off until a month or so later and when I did, I tumbled spectacularly backwards off the reformer with a shockingly loud bang, mostly because I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing, but in that first class I had all the attention and coaching I needed from an excellent instructor who turned out to be the owner, Elliot Lake. After that first class I started shopping around, trying other studios and teachers, looking for the most affordable way to locally continue Pilates classes, but I kept finding myself coming back to Bootcamp. In the end I joined the Bootcamp Fulham monthly membership plan. I go to Elliot's classes 4 or 5 times a week and when I heard he had opened a new studio in Wandsworth I was certainly intrigued. Pilates Circuit is a new concept that fuses circuit training with Pilates, using not only reformers, but other pieces of equipment as well. Elliot recently invited me to come down and try a class. I'm not at all surprised that Pilates Circuit is absolutely brilliant! It's everything I expected and more... 

Since publishing this review of Pilates Circuit in 2019, I've more recently signed up for a package and I've started to incorporate one to two sessions there per week as a way to supercharge my regular weekly physical activity routine. I absolutely love these classes! They're fun, stimulating and more physically challenging than traditional reformer classes, so they've given me an extra boost in my week as I try to get back into shape after a lengthy lockdown without much exercise. Since I'm now going to Pilates Circuit regularly, it felt right to republish this review because I love it even more after attending several classes than I did after having a provided review opportunity. It's also worth mentioning that these photos were taken in the pre-Covid days and since then, social distancing measures have been implemented. There's less equipment that's more spaced out, class sizes are limited and all the necessary health & safety precautions are in place. 

Pilates Circuit is located on Wandsworth High Street only steps away from the Southside Shopping Centre at Flow63. You enter through a jujitsu studio, but once you pass through the door with the logo on it, you find yourself in a beautiful, bright and airy space with lots of windows. The spacious studio is full of amazing, top-notch Pilates equipment. It's not your average Pilates studio, but then again, it's not your average Pilates class either. The space itself is enough to motivate a visit... It really does make a difference when you know you're going to work out in a space you're happy to spend an hour in.

Pilates reformers and Pilates chairs at Pilates Circuit Wandsworth

The equipment is set up in groups around the studio with plenty of matts in the front, fuse ladders, reformers, Pilates chairs and orbits. If there are 5 or less of you in the class, you might all do the same exercises at the same time, but if there are more, you'll move around the stations in groups of 5 or less, alternating with the others. You'll spend a specific amount of time at each station before moving onto the next and every exercise will be explained to you. You might do for example scooters on the reformer, spending one minute on the right leg, then switching to the left for another minute before moving onto the next exercise. Rather than spending a whole hour on the reformer, Pilates Circuit gives you the opportunity to switch it up with some different pieces of kit and try some things that in most cases you might not have the opportunity to use outside of a private session, but at a class price. Of course, after the initial demonstration you might forget what you're supposed to do, but don't worry... You'll be coached through every station by the teacher. It's not a memory game, but the mental stimulation alongside the physical challenges makes Pilates Circuit more engaging and keeps it interesting. I especially love this aspect because I bore really easily, so I'm always looking for workout options that keep me interested and entertained while I work up a sweat.

I was lucky enough to try out all the equipment at Pilates Circuit in a one-on-one session and since Elliot is my regular teacher at Bootcamp, we didn't repeat anything I'm used to doing on the reformer so that I could try as many new exercises on the unfamiliar equipment as possible. I also got to try some exercises that I do regularly on the reformer, but on different equipment which changes things like stability and in some cases, increases how dynamic the exercise is. In most cases we tried things that were completely new to me, some of them being a bit out of my comfort zone yet I was surprised at how I was able to do them better after only a few reps. There was only one exercise that was out of reach for me, but I could almost do it and it wasn't at all discouraging. I felt like I wanted to keep going back so I could work up to it. 

Let's talk a bit more about the equipment at Pilates Circuit as it will give you a better idea of what to expect...

Pilates Fuse Ladders in London

The Fuse Ladder
Pilates Circuit is the only studio in London where you'll find a Fuse Ladder, a relatively new piece of Pilates equipment that looks a lot like it sounds. Similar to the Swedish Ladder you'd see in a traditional gym that looks kind of like monkey bars going up the wall, the Fuse Ladder is a bit more complicated in that it comes with more bells and whistles like spring attachments that are adjustable and a padded backboard that slips onto a bar. It works in some ways like the reformer, but you can use it standing up, making the exercises more full-body and less sedentary. Exercises that you'd normally do laying down on the reformer can in some cases be done standing up. Climbing, hanging, balancing and spring resistance are all options on the Fuse Ladder. Squats, lunges and floor work take new shape. And then there's the hanging options for things like pull-ups or one of the exercises I did which involves hanging and bringing one knee up at a time while stretching the other leg straight towards the floor, working the whole body while increasing grip strength. The Fuse Ladder has both handles and foot strap attachments as well.

I really liked the Fuse Ladder. It's a completely different feeling than what you get doing similar exercises on a reformer. Elliot took me through quite a few exercises and I wish I could remember every single one. I found the hanging exercises the toughest and the stretches we did on the Fuse Ladder were some of my favourites I've ever done. We used the springs for traditional things like shoulder presses, 100's, scissor kicks, leg circles, rollbacks and rowing, but we also made some things a bit more challenging by adding an incline with the attachable backboard. My favourite exercise on the Fuse Ladder was similar to something we do on the reformer and one of the first Pilates exercises I ever did, but taken up a notch - a Russian Twist on one leg. It was super tough, but great for balance and concentration. The options seem endless and I'm sure there's no opportunity to get bored with Fuse Ladder workouts. 

Flo the Pilates Pup at Pilates Circuit
This is Flo, the Pilates Pup who makes regular appearances at Pilates Circuit.

The Pilates Chair
Another piece of equipment I've never used before, the Pilates Chair was my absolute favourite. It's shaped kind of like a chair with a flat top, padded pedals that are connected to adjustable springs and handles at the top. We did exercises for legs, core, arms and triceps. They were super challenging and I worked up quite a sweat, but they were fun and engaging, so it didn't seem tiresome. My favourite exercise was probably the most difficult which involved sitting on the chair with my hands behind me on the pedals, bringing my legs into table top (bent and off the floor) and pressing down with my hands as I leaned back, then using my core to come back up. It's super tough and you feel like you're going to fall the whole time which makes it kind of exciting, but every time I didn't fall over I felt like an absolute champ. I'd really love to do some more work on a Pilates Chair sometime in the future. It was a lot of fun!

Pilates Chairs and Orbits

The Orbit
The Orbit looks similar to a skateboard in some ways. It's a padded board with wheels on the bottom that move in all directions, so you can use it like the reformer, but it's super unstable, making you work really hard to control it. The Orbits are next to mats on the floor and we did things like bridging, ice-breakers, planks, pikes and sawing. In some cases my feet were on the orbit while my hands or forearms were on the mat, but in other cases it was reversed. I must say, I really liked these exercises as well. They're super challenging and it's really difficult to keep things from moving around where you don't want them to, so I found that not only was I working super hard, but my concentration was laser focused which is something I love in a workout. I was probably the most intimidated by the Orbit, but it's a lot more manageable than I expected and it added a new layer to some exercises I do on a regular basis.

Pilates Circuit is definitely different than a traditional reformer class and yet surprisingly familiar at the same time. When I left my one-hour session, I was excited and felt great. I worked hard and left sweaty, tired and a little out of breath - I definitely got in a great workout. For the next couple of days I was more sore than I'd been in a while, nothing unbearable, but I obviously worked some muscles a bit harder than usual and maybe some others that hadn't been used much in a while. As soon as I left I immediately texted a couple of friends to say they needed to add it to their to-do lists. My mind started to wander as well as to how I could figure out a way to start building a few classes a week into my regular workout routine. I definitely want to continue what I'm already doing with regular reformer classes because I love them, but I could immediately see how one or two classes a week at Pilates Circuit could completely up my fitness game. I can also see myself indulging in these classes when I want to train and get stronger for something specific whether it be a beach holiday bikini body, a post Christmas season health kick or getting geared up for my next dance competition.

The classes at Pilates Circuit are pretty reasonably priced for London classes and there are package options available, meaning the more you buy the more you save. One drop-in class is £27 and in my opinion it's totally worth every penny. From the beautiful facility to the top-of-the-line equipment, no detail is neglected and the quality of training is excellent. If you act quickly, there's currently a deal online for 10% off class packs of 10 or 20, meaning that you can save even more. Click here for more information.

I definitely recommend trying a class at Pilates Circuit for anyone who's looking to up their regular Pilates game or try something new. It's a lot of fun, a great workout and something you won't find anywhere else in London. For more information or to book your class, visit

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