Exercise and I have never been friends. At best we're awkward acquaintances, at worst sworn enemies. So when I do dabble in any form of physical fitness, the time taken vs results shown is a vital consideration – it needs to be quick, effective and perfunctory. This pragmatic approach has led over the years to a deep-seated suspicion of any form of exercise that does not involve me working up a sweat and turning the colour of a tomato with a trusty calorie counter ticking away at my side.
Over the years, much to numerous friends' and colleagues' frustration, this prejudice has led me to refuse invitations to try out numerous incarnations of yoga, tai chi - and Pilates classes. So when I was offered to try out TenPilates, I was sceptical.
What does it involve?: Like traditional Pilates, there is a lot of talk about building core waist and lower back muscles to help improve posture and flexibility. But what swayed me was that unlike 'normal' Pilates, the work is centred around the "Reformer bed" which enables movement-based exercise combining weights and resistance. This adds cardiovascular conditioning to the mix for a toning workout. I signed up to the Bridal Fitness Programme, which offers a mix of classes and personal training sessions.
My first session was with personal trainer Amy Ryan, who talked through my pre-wedding goals (arms, stomach, posture) and demystified the Ten Pilates Reformer bed, which, through the eyes of a novice looks like something from an S&M chamber crossed with a rowing machine.
Perfect for: Those who, like me, are suspicious of holistic exercise, but only manage to psyche themselves up for the gym twice a year. Also, lazy as it sounds, it's pretty undemanding on the gym kit front; you don't need trainers and towels and (pretty decent) toiletries are available on site including GHDs, so in theory you can just stuff a pair of leggings and a T-shirt in your handbag and you'll be good to go.
New to exercise: As the classes have maximum of 10, my trainer keeps a close eye to check I'm performing each set of exercises in exactly the right way and maintaining the correct posture. This is essential to Pilates, and where I think I have struggled in the past. The (disconcerting) floor-to-ceiling mirrors that surround are also helpful for checking your position.
Advice: If you're looking to shift tons of weight in a few weeks this is probably not the right exercise for you. Ten Pilates is not a quick fix - you need to commit to the long haul. For my wedding, I wanted to look like me, just more toned and streamlined and Ten Pilates was perfect for this. It's also brilliant for working on posture which is key for those all important wedding photos.
What's the damage: Prices start from £12.50 for the first class, with private personal training sessions starting at £80.
Sign me up: Ten Pilates currently boasts studios in Notting Hill, Chiswick, St James and, most recently, Mayfair. Visit the Ten Pilates site for more details.
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