It looks like a medieval instrument of torture that’s had all the blood scrubbed off and been nicely padded to give the illusion of modern comfort. This is the Reformer Pilates machine. It is here to let you know that you have muscles in your armpits, your ear lobes and your eyelids.
I’m not being dramatic about this.
Last night I went to a Reformer Pilates class at Frame in Shoreditch. I’m hurrying to write this post as I can feel the ominous tremble of muscles stiffening in protest and I’m afraid I’ll have lost the use of my arms by nightfall.
I’m still not being dramatic.
This is the sort of class that probably makes you look like a ballerina in just a few sessions.
Frame (an excellent place that you must try out if you like dancing, by the way) has seven of these contraptions, all lined up in a studio that looks like a torture chamber with unusually restful decor.
Basically you sit/lie/kneel on the beds, put your arms through straps, squeeze a hoop between your thighs and so forth. The instruction is excellent – at no point did I find myself tangled in the straps or facing the wrong way (the expected consequence of anything too technical). At the time it feels challenging, but enjoyably so. No muscle is left untested. As with all Pilates based exercise, it may look like you’re just holding your arm up (or something else similarly unimpressive) but it BURNS.
I can’t quite work out why, but I loved it. It might be that it awakens every single fibre and sinew. It might be the novelty of trying something so totally alien.
Whatever it is, I enjoyed it way more than I expected to. But ask me again tomorrow when I’m weeping and having to ask strangers to help me do my coat up. I may have changed my mind.