By Susan Romero
Brooke Siler owns a small Pilates studio with big ideas. re:AB Pilates is no ordinary gym, and may be the best kept secret in town. Since 1997, it has catered to a loyal clientele that wants to be in touch with and in control of their bodies. It sounds simple, but simplicity is the genius of the Pilates workout.
“I was so baffled at how I couldn’t do seemingly simple exercises,” said Siler. Her introduction to Pilates began 17 years ago and she trained for 10 years under Joseph Pilates’ protégé, Romana Kryzanowska. Siler quickly became hooked on Pilates, in spite of its difficulty. “For me it was a great source of frustration and a wonderful catalyst,” she said.
Siler’s studio teaches the classic form of Pilates created by Joseph Pilates himself. It is hard to believe that Pilates was born in 1880 and spent his life developing the original system of over 500 exercises as well as the apparatus now used in Siler’s studio. “It is incredible how beyond his time he was,” said Siler.
All the teachers at re:AB Pilates must undergo over 600 hours of training, which is provided through Siler’s studio, before receiving authentic Pilates certification. Siler concedes that many Pilates instructors are ill trained and that in some gyms you have no idea what you are getting.
Not so at Siler’s studio. As I discovered, after taking Heart and Soul, a combination Reformer and mat class, re:AB Pilates offers a whole different type of Pilates. The classes are small; never more than eight students, and in mine there were only three. The exercises seemed tame but doing them correctly was the challenge. The Reformer exercises were the most difficult for me, never having worked on this apparatus before. It has a foot bar, padding to lie down on, along with a headrest. There are two handles attached to leather straps that are hooked onto springs that create resistance when pulled.
Our instructor, Emma Rivera, was a gentle force whose slight adjustments to my body during the exercises allowed me to reap maximum benefits. I definitely broke a sweat during the exercises and felt the cardio benefit as we pushed our legs up and down and pulled the handles on the Reformer. I got a magnificent core, legs and even arm workout as we went non-stop through a multitude of different exercises, each with just a few repetitions.
After the Reformer we moved to mat exercises which focused on abdominals and consisted of only a few repetitions which, when done correctly, provided a really intense workout. When the 45-minute class ended, I spoke with Emma, who confirmed that it’s not the number of repetitions that matters, but rather the correct form.
Emma is clearly in love with Pilates. “I live here,” she told me. She also said that her erect posture is now just automatic, and as we spoke she made sure to tell me to stand up tall. I hadn’t even realized that I wasn’t, but I was already feeling longer and leaner after the workout. Could it be that Siler was right when she told me, “Pilates really is the fountain of youth.”
If the look of the clientele is any indication of results, I saw only long lean bodies during my visit, and although everyone was working hard, they all seemed happy to be there and full of energy. A few clients I spoke with said they try and come two or three times a week.
Although I was quite sore the day after my workout, I still can’t wait to take some more classes at re:AB Pilates and get chiseled for summer!
33 Bleecker Street, Suite 2C,
New York, NY 10012.