"It might look like a torture rack, but it's not as bad as it looks."
Hardly the greeting you want to hear before trying out a new gym class. But, as the instructor utters these words, I'm already halfway through the door and there's no turning back.
Luke, the instructor of my Dynamic Pilates class, is right. The Reformer equipment does resemble a torture rack - a long, flat, bed-like structure with ropes and straps. And, without wanting to come across like a total wimp, I'm nervous as hell.
Luckily, the class is small. I count eight people at most.
The benefits of this is two-fold: a) you get a really attentive instructor who gives step-by-step help, offers constant adjustments to improve your practice and really understands the body/needs of each class member and b) there are less people to embarrass yourself in front of.
See Also: All You Need To Know About Pilates
So how does this class differ from traditional, reformer-free Pilates?
Like normal Pilates, the class focuses on core muscles to improve strength, increase flexibility, aid mobility and restore the body's natural balance.
But Dynamic Pilates allows you to go that extra step and is perfect if you want to challenge your body.
The Reformer equipment allows the muscles to work against greater resistance, increasing the effort and delivering faster results.
Movements are still precise and controlled - a nod to Josef Pilates' traditional practice - but Dynamic Pilates links moves into a smooth, continuous flow.
Also more ‘functional’ exercises - such as working the core muscles in combination with additional muscle groups - are added to increase the intensity of the overall movement and deliver cardiovascular conditioning benefits.
I'm told a standard one-hour class will burn around 300 calories. And due to EPOX (Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption) participants can expect to keep burning throughout the day for 8-10 hours post workout. Score.
As someone who practises Pilates and yoga regularly, I found the class challenging (even at beginners level) but manageable. Sure, I ached like hell the next day - but it was that 'good pain' that you get after a good workout, your body's way of saying "thanks".
Verdict: If you like Pilates, you'll love this class. If you don't like Pilates, you still could love this class.
See here for more on TenPilates, the home of Dynamic Pilates, and to book a class.