Exceptional Pilates Studios

Whether they’re housed in 17th century Italian convents, 19th century New York tenements or 21st century Costa Rican treehouses, these studios not only stand out for their great instruction but for their superior design.

by Eme Cole, with additional reporting by Amanda Altman and Anne Marie O’Connor

Pilates Nosara at the Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort, Costa Rica

OWNER: Page Sieffert
DESIGN AESTHETIC: Sieffert describes the space as “a beautiful Pilates treehouse!” The studio sits on stilts in the middle of the jungle with large windows that allow natural light to flood in. Troops of monkeys can often be spotted playing in the trees while classes are in session. (Sieffert saved the trees and built within them to keep the monkeys’ habitat in place.) The high ceiling has openings at the top to allow hot air to disperse, so there is no need for air conditioning. All of the wood is teak and locally sourced. The open floor plan allows for easy transitions from mat to group equipment classes.

Plank, New York City

OWNER: Matthew Wadiak; studio director: Kristen Antzoulis
DESIGN AESTHETIC: Housed in a tenement building constructed in 1869, the studio was designed to stay true to its 19th century origins. During a major renovation, the space was peeled back to its bones; it was discovered that much of the stone in the foundational walls was actually ballast from 18th century Dutch ships and is now on display. One floor houses the equipment; downstairs are the changing area and other amenities. Aiming to avoid the “cold, hard” look of many fitness spaces, Plank exudes warmth and harmony.

Body & Mind, Zagreb, Croatia

OWNER: Mirela Anić
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 15 (at this location for five years)
DESIGN AESTHETIC: Designer Matteo Cetinski balanced the practical and progressive with traditional elements true to the studio’s Croatian heritage. “Warm” elements like the repurposed-wood paneling, vintage kilim rugs (used on the cupboard doors) and the red-cord chandelier are juxtaposed with the “cool” concrete walls. These created interesting accents while leaving lots of neutral unobstructed surfaces to act as the backdrop for the various Pilates apparatus. “The designer succeeded in maintaining his signature style while also being totally devoted to the balance of practical and progressive, which is so important to us,” says Anić.

Cal-a-Vie, Vista, CA

YEARS IN BUSINESS: 32 (the spa); the Pilates program was added in 2003.
OWNERS: John and Terri Havens (since 2000)
DESIGN AESTHETIC: The Havens completely renovated the property when they bought it 18 years ago. Over many years, the couple had amassed a wide-ranging collection of exquisite French antiques, mostly from the 18th century, on buying trips to France. Because the landscape around the resort is so similar to the South of France, with fields of lavender, citrus groves and vineyards, the couple decided to give their Francophilia full rein, though with a luxe vibe. Everywhere from the rooms to the Pilates studio is decorated with French antiques, so you may find yourself looking up at a 400-year-old chandelier from Paris while doing matwork.

Studio Trentotto ASD, Piacenza, Italy

OWNER: Maria Cristina Ferri
DESIGN AESTHETIC: This beautiful studio is housed in a former convent that dates to the 17th century, but is still in amazing shape. “Customers enter with a different spirit because this is not a gym but a cathedral of wellness!” explains Ferri. The room that houses the Pilates studio has a green-and-red patterned coffered wood ceiling with golden stucco details that clients love looking at while lying on the mat or apparatus. The wooden bearded masks at the ends of the beams also attract a good deal of attention. Seven large windows provide plenty of natural light, so despite the wood ceiling, the space is bright. The 18-foot ceilings allow for good air circulation.

MorePilates, Tel-Aviv, Israel

OWNER: Mor Vestler
DESIGN AESTHETIC: Though the style is industrial-chic, the space has a light, airy feel, thanks to a high ceiling and a wall of windows that illuminate the space with natural light. The industrial vibe is enhanced by exposed electrical lines, sprinklers and an air-conditioner tube. The color palette is mainly black and white with wood and metal touches that were influenced by the studio’s Gratz equipment. The reception area’s floor has black-and-white tiles to distinguish it from the workout area, which has hardwood floor–like tiles that enhance the feeling of spaciousness. Pictures mainly of Joseph Pilates line the walls and are intended to inspire clients’ workouts.

Physio Logic Pilates & Movement, Brooklyn, NY

OWNER: Lynda Salerno Gehrman
DESIGN AESTHETIC: The space houses both a Pilates studio and Gehrman’s husband’s integrative healthcare clinic, so
architect Perla Delson designed a flexible space that separated the two practices but that can be recombined when necessary to create a larger, more open space. The studio features 360 degrees of windows and natural materials like bamboo flooring, stone and glass, plus dozens of mirrors that were custom-made into movable walls. Gehrman reused marble countertops from her previous space and also added some funky, Brooklyn-esque touches, including her parents’ 53-year-old blue-flowered couches, a gold-glitter hairdresser chair and themed bathrooms (disco, sports and beach girl!).

WAPilates, Houston

OWNER: Hilary Opheim
DESIGN AESTHETIC: Opheim wanted to create a space that was welcoming, supportive and calming. Carla Valencia, a former interior designer turned client, assisted in the design. Vintage crystal sphere chandeliers in a range of sizes hang at varying heights at the entry of the studio, providing an unexpected touch of glamour. Floor-to-ceiling black-and-white photographs by Chuck Rapoport on the back wall anchor the large space and pay homage to Joseph Pilates. To keep the studio looking organized and uncluttered, there are utility shelves and hooks for props and other necessities.

Stay tuned for the runners-up!

All photos courtesy of the studio.

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