On Monday, I got the chance to try out Plank Pilates, the LES studio that I have wanted to check out for a while. I knew it was a “small” studio since almost every single review mentions it but I didn’t have any idea how teeny-tiny this studio is until I showed up at the front door. The way the space is set up, you walk directly into the studio, slip off your shoes and then cut through the space to the stairwell to get down to the reception area. When I got there, a private session was going on so I quickly made my way to the back and down the stairs where I found the cozy, spa-like reception area. It is small but lovely with cucumber/lemon water jars, a large changing room with warm Eucalyptus and cold Lavender towels prepped to use. It was such a pampered introduction to Plank, I briefly thought the class would be a breeze. I was VERY wrong.
All of Plank’s group classes are based around the Tower, an awesome wall-mounted apparatus that gives studios the ability to do some of the traditional super-effective Pilates machine moves in a group setting, without the need for the larger Cadillac machines. Plank has 5 of them lined up against one of their walls and they take up the majority of the studio. When I finally made it upstairs, after thoroughly enjoying the pampering touches downstairs, I snagged a Tower and settled in for class. I always feel like I am suffering through a Pilates mat class but once springs are involved, it is a whole different story. Pilates designed machines using heavy springs that you pull and push in varying ways and it is that resistance that makes all the difference. I have loved every Tower class I have ever gotten the chance to take and was really excited to get to try another one.
Leading our Tower class was Julia Fouts, who actually created Plank’s signature “Plank 360” class. On top of her Pilates certifications, Julia is certified in Sports and Personal training, which I have to say, now makes me really intrigued by the 360 class. One of my absolute favorite things about Pilates in a boutique setting is how focused on form and good at corrections instructors are – Julia was no exception. She had the ability to spot even the smallest miss-alignment and correct it. Her verbal cues were clear and helpful but more often than not, I would just miss the mark of where I was supposed to be and she would come over and deftly fix what I was doing wrong. Julia moved the class through a fluid series of movements, using the arm and leg springs and the roll down bar – while never allowing the class to feel choppy as we changed from one set of springs to another. I loved her take on the leg series, too, with a couple of fun versions of my favorite classic Pilates machine moves. It was a challenging, quick hour and by the end I felt thoroughly worked out from head to toe. I really just wanted to lay there on the mat and bask in that happy good workout bliss but another class was already making its way downstairs to get ready for their class, so I hopped up and wiped down my Tower mat instead. I walked out of Plank with a new spring in my step, just a little happier to have found this gem of a studio in the hustle and bustle of the city.
Top photo by Eric Stafford, middle & bottom photos from Plank Pilates Facebook page.