Odds are that you’ve heard of Pilates, yes? With studios popping up all over town, it may appear that it’s more of a fitness fad than a wellness solution that has been around since the early 1900s. Pilates has a rich history, though, and it has staying power, which should be our first clue that it works. The beautiful part about the many local studio options now available in Nashville is that there’s a perfect Pilates place for every person to plug in and enjoy regardless of age, size or ability.
We tried out some of the city’s most popular Pilates outlets to bring you a realistic idea of what’s out there and assess which would be the best for your personality. After all, if you have a great first experience, you’re more likely to return, right? And, we promise, it’s a workout worth returning for. Here we go:
6000 Hwy. 100, Nashville • (615) 352-1100
Swell, located inside Spaces in Belle Meade, has a modest waiting area before you enter the small, but impressive, studio. Store your belongings in one of the ample-sized cubbies, and then stake your claim on one of the eight reformers. A reformer newbie? Fear not! Your instructor will give you a quick intro, and you’ll be good to go … it looks more complicated than it is, we promise! Mirrors line both walls, allowing you to check and recheck your body alignment throughout the class, and the instructor will gently guide you to proper positioning, if needed.
Our instructor, Stephanie, was patient, accommodating, warm and welcoming, all ideal attributes when trying something new and unfamiliar. She played some music on low volume, but there was no struggle to hear the instructions. As far as the workout goes, we felt some sweat beads forming but never broke out in a full-on sweat. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get a solid workout, though, because we did … we could feel it. By the end of the class, we’d been completely stretched out, and frankly, it’s the best we’d felt in a long, long time.
Bonus points: Swell has three instructors who are also physical therapists. Why is that awesome? Because if you’re rehabbing an injury, they can offer modifications to any move while still giving you a solid workout.
Ideal candidates: In addition to Pilates veterans, Swell is a fantastic option for the Pilates-curious crowd (yours truly!) and those who are rehabbing injuries. My classmates were all shapes, sizes, ages, genders and skill levels, meaning that unless you’re an alien, you should fit in just fine!
Current specials: Keep an eye out for a Valentine’s Day special starting on Feb. 14. Swell also offers both group and private lessons, as well as packages and contracts to accommodate various budgets. Visit swellstudionashville.com for details.
2203 Bandywood Drive, Nashville • (615) 297-7117
Willow Pilates in Green Hills is a 3,000-square-foot, full-service Pilates studio with all the equipment a student could want, including reformers and Cadillacs downstairs and mat/tower units upstairs. (Click here for a full equipment menu.) Classes are small to ensure that every student receives appropriate attention and gets the most from their class. Our instructor was Kelly Rogers, a former dancer and gymnast who’s taught for eight years, having discovered the benefits of Pilates for the injuries she endured during her dance career. That speaks volumes to us.
Bonus points: Willow trainers have certifications in Muscle Activation Technique, Stretch Therapy, Massage and Myofascial Release, meaning there is at least one trainer there (if not more!) who can help with your specific needs.
Ideal candidates: Willow is great for people who like options and a decent-sized, but not impossible, challenge. There were a variety of ages, shapes and skill levels present, with several women who were rehabbing injuries. Most of the students in the class we took had been coming for a while (devoted students=good sign), but it wasn’t clique-y at all. We felt very welcome.
Current specials: In honor of New Year’s, lifetime memberships (a one-time fee) are $75 (a $150 value). Visit the website for a complete menu of rates.
521 Eighth Ave. S., Nashville • (615) 321-5200
Touted as “the official Pilates studio of the Nashville Ballet,” Simply Balanced is owned and operated by David Gensheimer and is located in Cannery Row on Eighth Avenue. Of all of the Pilates experiences we had, this one made us break a sweat and felt truly athletic. To quote Gensheimer, “David’s beginner classes aren’t like other beginner classes.” True dat.
The beginner reformer class we took actually felt more advanced beginner, challenge-wise. David entrusts his students to work independently in terms of completing reps on their own versus as a group. While you’re finishing your reps, he’s explaining what’s coming next, which keeps things moving at a nice, steady pace. This does, however, require a bit of a multitasking mind, and it puts the accountability on you … you’ll only get out of it what you put into it. He’s also great about helping students obtain the ideal posture and positioning, which, as you’ll learn the more you do Pilates, is what it’s all about.
Bonus points: David has a playful personality, but he also raises the bar, challenging students to do their very best work possible … he’s as committed as you are.
Ideal candidates: For those who work in or around downtown and want to work out on their lunch break or on the way home after work, this is the place for you. David will show you the equipment, get you up to speed and give you a solid workout. During my visits, ladies of all ages, shapes, sizes and skill levels were present and stepping up to the plate!
SB Tip: Don’t type “Simply Balanced” in Google Maps, as it will take you to the old location. Type in the actual address, and you’ll be fine. Also, leave yourself about 15 extra minutes the first time you go to familiarize yourself with parking and the studio location.
Current specials: Check out the SB Deal going on now with two savings options; otherwise, $150 for one month unlimited reformer, mat and yoga classes. For complete pricing and additional discounts, click here.
358 Bellevue Road, Nashville • (615) 579-3959
Located on a beautiful property in Bellevue, The Pilates Place has been open since 2001. Owned and operated by Julee Jones, the setting alone is a big draw for its remote, peaceful vibe. The only thing better is Jones’ dedication to and passion for providing an authentic Pilates experience as Joe Pilates intended. Jones assesses her clients’ bodies to help her best determine their needs, and, from first-hand experience, she was spot on with ours. It’s that knowledge that then guides her teaching, giving her students the awareness they need to properly align themselves, whether doing Pilates work or simply going about their daily routines.
The front house features reformers, a Cadillac and other sundry equipment to provide a full and effective workout. In the back house, which is a former music studio where some big names once laid down tracks, is the studio, where Pilates, yoga and barre classes are offered.
Bonus points: It’s quite clear that helping others achieve — or work towards — healthy bodies is Jones’ life work. In addition to being a Pilates instructor, she is also a certified cancer exercise specialist — one of only two in Nashville — who helps cancer survivors regain their strength and quality of life. Click here to learn more about that option.
Ideal candidates: The draw of The Pilates Place is not only the studio history and instructor knowledge, but also the mellow atmosphere and peaceful vibe. It’s away from the hustle and bustle of Nashville proper and truly feels like you’re stealing away for a moment all your own. Jones works with all ages and abilities and is highly focused on “using your powerhouse,” which, to you soon-to-be Pilates converts, means your core.
Current specials: For a complete menu of classes, and private and duet options, as well as rates, visit her website at pilatesplacenashville.com.
Other local options:
Hopefully one of these great local options has inspired you to give Pilates a try. And while we’ve had firsthand experience with all of the above, there are still more local Pilates options that we haven’t yet tried but that have positive reputations and are worth looking into. These include:
- Align Wellness Studio (offers Pilates, nutrition counseling, yoga, jump classes and more) Location: Belle Meade Plaza
- Springs Studio Pilates (private, semiprivate and small group classes available) Location: 21st Avenue
Marathon Pilates (a new part of Marathon Fitness that opened December 2014) Location: 12th Avenue South
Quickstart beginner’s guide:
- Studios typically require either special Pilates socks or bare feet
- Wear tight-fitting fitness pants (yay, Spandex!) for maximum comfort
- A form-fitting top helps the instructor see your posture and make changes when necessary
- Just-for-fun reading: The History of Pilates
Be sure to check out an amazing group of workout studios, only the best of the best, all found in the SB GUIDE.