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If you’re like just about everyone I know right now, all this time at home has you wondering how you’ll keep up with your workout while your favorite gyms, yoga studios, and other exercise emporiums are temporarily closed. And if you take a step back, turn inwards, you might just realize that this might be the perfect time to consider a new type of workout—an exercise that you were always too intimidated to try. Maybe one that tests your abs, puts your core to work, gets your body into a posture you've never even considered, and teaches you how to inhale and exhale through anything...
For me, Pilates is that workout. At a skinny 6’4”, I’d given up hope that I’ll ever touch my toes, “muscle” isn’t really a word people use when describing me, and double-leg stretches sound more like something I'd do before getting out of bed instead of part of a home workout—so learning about Pilates exercises gives me a newfound sense that those goals are actually achievable.
Beginners like me often pronounce it wrong (typically, a variation of “pirates”), and at first glance, the exercise equipment looks like medieval torture devices more apt to draw and quarter me than whip me into shape. (Editor's note: I will confirm this as that is how it appears to me as well.)
The Pilates method doesn’t date back to the Middle Ages, but it is an older methodology, practiced for more than 100 years since its founding by Joseph (you guessed it) Pilates. He called it “Contrology” to denote controlled movements that, when performed properly, can do wonders for your flexibility, tone and build muscle, strengthen inhale and exhale practices, improve core strength, balance, and endurance, and assist with proper posture. It’s now taught and practiced across the globe, with instructors devoting over 500 hours to their certification.
The family of Pilates styles features two main methodologies:
Classical preserves the original method invented by Joseph Pilates—the traditional repertoire, sequencing, and equipment progression. For the purists out there, this is THE way that Pilates was meant to be taught.
Contemporary blends Classical with other disciplines like yoga and fitness training, incorporating modern Pilates equipment as well as props such as foam rollers and balls. This system operates from a thorough understanding of the traditional repertoire of the classical system, supplemented with a modern-day understanding of kinesiology and often more creative, less regimented, forms of movement. As a veteran instructor I know put it, “Think jazz improv rooted in classical music understanding.”
Both Classical and Contemporary Pilates incorporate specialized equipment such as the Reformer, Tower, Cadillac, Arc Barrel, and Wunda Chair. But don’t call them machines! Seasoned Pilates aficionados refer to them as “apparatus,” the term Pilates himself used to describe the unique equipment Pilates requires.
Which style you choose is up to you, but the overall goal is the same: core and abs strength, spinal flexibility, balance, and generally improved health for your entire body and mind.
You don’t need a Pilates Reformer to build abdominal muscles and improve your breathing techniques from your living room, but if you’re new to the discipline, having some expert instruction can go a long way toward making sure you’re doing it right and avoiding injury while getting the core-strengthening exercise you want. Creative businesses are providing a slew of ways for their clients to keep up their fitness routines at home, and many offer video-on-demand and live-streaming classes. You can find them through the Mindbody app or on Mindbody.io—search for terms like “virtual,” “on-demand,” and “live stream.”
Seek out a studio and instructors that are BASI, STOTT, PMA, or otherwise certified, with a comprehensive 500 hour+ certification. They can introduce you to the repertoire in an informed and educated way, one where you can keep your body safe and supported as you come to learn the expansive nature of the system—some call it the “Pilates secret.” There are also lots of Pilates fusion classes out there, which may be a great place to start if you have a yoga background—these classes focus on simpler movements. For those, you'd look for instructors with an AFAA or NASM certification and a Pilates specialization.
You’ll probably need a few key props to start practicing these core exercises at home, such as a mat (usually thicker and larger than a yoga mat), a few light weights, and some resistance bands. As you grow into your practice, you may graduate to more specialized pieces like the magic circle (an exercise ring made of flexible metal or rubber). Also important for Pilates exercises is an open mind, a deep inhale, a fluid exhale, and of course, your glutes.
Grab your props and pull up a video from one of the Pilates studios on the app, or sign up for a live streaming class—and before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home. With well-educated instructors that are skilled in teaching mat work (the most advanced form of Pilates), you can start to break down the basic principles of the Pilates system.
Before you can say “dorsiflexion” you’ll be performing single leg stretches, teasers, and pelvic curls in the comfort of your own home.
Trying a new workout at home can be ideal because it builds your confidence and gives you a chance to get the hang of it before showing up to an in-person class. Because, let’s face it—not all of us want to be the fresh face in class, mistaking a Reformer for a rowing machine.
This June marks 52 years since the 1969 Stonewall Riots took place—a historical event that put the severe lack of LGBTQIA+ rights into the spotlight. Thanks to the efforts of activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, we now have the privilege of celebrating June as Pride Month where members of this community can celebrate everything that makes them beautiful and unique.
At Mindbody, we've created an inclusive, uplifting, and welcoming workspace where all our team members feel valued and inspired to bring their best every day. Here’s what some of our employees said when we asked them what Pride means to them:
“Pride means choosing to be my authentic self, even when it’s hard.” — KT Ellis, Business Relationship Manager
“Pride is about acceptance, community, freedom, and love.” — Josh Pierce, Content Designer
“Pride is about celebrating how far we’ve come, demonstrating how far we’ve got left to go, and focusing on our similarities rather than our differences.” — Bobby Jones, Payments Specialist
“Pride is about celebrating the visibility and accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ people. It’s also about celebrating the diversity among LBGTQIA+ people.” — Robert Arambel Senior Technical Program Manager
As we have discussed before, inclusivity remains an important topic in the wellness industry. We are taking this opportunity to continue to shine a light on the gap of inclusivity and diversity in our industry, and take action to promote, empower, and honor the LGBTQIA+ community that helps shape, grow, and provide access to wellness.
While Pride Month is a great time for fitness studios to show their support for the community, consistent support throughout the year is much more powerful. Being LGBTQIA+ inclusive is more than hanging up a rainbow flag—it's a consistent alignment with providing equal access for everyone. We’ve done some of the work for you and aggregated a number of awesome fitness studios you can find on the Mindbody app that are celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and creating inclusive spaces for all:
Kyle House Fitness is Chattanooga’s premier fitness program offering group fitness classes and personal training with the best-certified instructors and trainers in the area. Located on Chattanooga’s thriving Southside, Kyle House Fitness is more than a gym, they pride themselves on building a welcoming and inclusive community. The owners of this gym, The Kyles, may sound familiar to you since they recently wrote a blog post for us on how to be an LGBTQIA+ ally in the fitness space.
EVERYBODY is “creating a radically inclusive culture for all bodies to move, strengthen, and heal.” Not only is their $66/month membership affordable, but they also offer 100% subsidized memberships to folks who are in dire financial hardship, which helps remove barriers for those who are marginalized and/or low-income. Aside from their standard program classes, they also offer affordable $8 drop-in classes—some of which are bilingual (Spanish/English). And, they have gender-neutral locker rooms, which is a staple for LGBTQIA+ inclusive spaces.
At Pilates, Barre & Jams, owner Teresa Ellis’ mission is “to make movement available and accessible to the people who have never felt comfortable walking into a status quo studio...” and we are here for it. As a Black queer femme and a former sex worker, Ellis witnessed first-hand what it feels like to be othered, which is exactly why she opened her Pilates studio in 2017—to create a safe space for all. Knowing that financial restraints should never be the reason someone can’t attend one of her classes, she even has a “pay-what-you-can" membership option so everyone can have access to her amazing Pilates classes.
At Mark Fisher Fitness, “making health and hotness fun and inclusive” is their mission. As a member of their Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams (yes, you read that right), they promise fast results with a money-back guarantee. It’s not just rainbows and unicorns at MFF—their bright and vibrant space is filled with friendly trainers who are fiercely committed to your results and growth.
This self-proclaimed “gym + safe space + house party” fosters a supportive community without the homophobia, transphobia, and body shaming. Since it’s important to them to reduce barriers for folks with body dysmorphia or gender dysphoria, you won’t find a single mirror in this gym. They take “gym buddies” to a whole new level by offering a monthly social calendar for members to connect online. With classes like “Oakland Booty” and “Tops ‘n Bottoms,” The Queer Gym promises lots of sweat, an encouraging environment, and a dang good time.
At 305 Fitness, their mission is to empower people to love themselves harder and express themselves louder. Their passion stems from their core values of inclusivity, empowerment, self-improvement community responsibility. 305 exists to make fitness more inclusive, empowering, and fun. Movement is more than calorie counting or being the "best" in the room. Movement is about radical self-love, self-expression, and self-pride!
Compass Fitness is a journey for the body, mind, and soul. They encourage their members to find the best version of themselves. With classes like “Hustle & Flow,” “Buns & Guns,” and “HIIT & Run,” you know you’re in for a fun and powerful sweat sesh. On top of being a gym that embraces inclusivity and diversity, they donate all proceeds from their Pride gear to The Center on Colfax, the largest LGBTQIA+ community center in Colorado.
Yoga Box’s mission is to create a space where yoga is available to all. Their community of instructors, staff, and students creates a radically inclusive community of support and a place for people to connect to like-minded individuals. Through consistent, safe, and inspired classes designed to challenge, transform, and empower their students—both physically and mentally—this fitness studio is a safe and supported space to elevate your state.
While this is a great list to get you familiar with some fitness studios that support the LGBTQIA+ community, we have only scratched the surface. We'd love to keep this list growing. If you have any businesses you'd like to see on this list, click here to submit a business we should be highlighting as well!
Wanna sweat it out? Explore more inclusive and empowering studios through the Mindbody app, where you can book everything from HIIT to hot yoga. If you’re looking for other ways to help support the LGBTQIA+ community, you can also donate to your local organizations or support national organizations like The Trevor Project or the Human Rights Campaign.