In just a few weeks, a lot of people are going to make the New Year’s resolution to get in shape or even lose weight. I see the wave of sign-ups every January at Club Pilates, where I’ve taken pilates reformer classes for the past three years. Then, usually, by March, the crowds have thinned and a lot of the people have gone back to living their pre-resolution lives.
So, if you’ve been looking into a Club Pilates membership as a way to reach those fitness goals in the new year, but have questions, keep reading. I’m going to share the inside scoop on what it’s like as a member and how to get the most out of your membership if you do sign up.
What is Club Pilates?
Club Pilates offers low-impact, full-body Reformer Pilates-based workouts with a variety of classes that challenge your mind as well as your body. They made reformer pilates classes more affordable with their pilates-only membership program. While pilates is still the most expensive fitness membership I’ve ever had, it’s more affordable than taking pilates classes at a private gym or even pilates classes at the gym I went to before, where sessions ran from $25-40 for one 30-minute class. Reformer pilates has always been on the pricier side, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that teachers require specialized training to teach the classes and the reformer machines are expensive to purchase and maintain.
But, Club Pilates found a way to accelerate teacher training through the use of their highly focused teacher training programs (that I almost signed up for in 2021 and researched thoroughly) and pilates only classes. So, while it’s still an investment–which we’ll talk about more later–it’s going to be on par with memberships to places like Pure Barre and other stylized gyms. Sidenote: If you’re interested in Pure Barre, read my full review of that here.
What is Reformer Pilates?
New to this workout? I’ve shared a lot about it on the blog, because it’s been transformative for me and my health. When I started having autoimmune issues, which included tons of body aches, pains and overall fatigue, I couldn’t do the workouts I’d been doing for all of my life. I’m a very athletic person and enjoy taking care of my body, but I wasn’t even able to make it up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. If I did a traditional gym workout, I would have been almost incapable of moving for a week.
When I found pilates, the low-impact workouts was exactly what I needed to build core strength, flexibility, muscle strength and bring alignment to my body. It helps reduce inflammation, too. I have a lot of pain that comes and goes throughout my body and I go to classes almost no matter how I’m feeling, because I find that I feel better when I leave than when I got there. It helps stretch out achy limbs and reduces the inflammation that causes the pain.
Plus, many of the workouts are performed while lying down on the reformer machine, which means you aren’t putting all of your body weight on hands and feet. There are exercises that do, but it’s not the predominant workout as it is in other types of fitness classes. I find that I am able to work out longer and harder because of the nature of the exercises. I see people in classes with all body types and they are also able to perform most of the exercises. There has even been professional athletes recovering from injuries that use pilates to restore strength and balance so they can get back to doing their jobs.
To read more about pilates and the benefits it offers, check out this detailed post here.
How do Club Pilates memberships work?
You have options when choosing a Club Pilates membership. You can choose to pay per class or purchase a monthly membership.
While the prices at each club is different or the prices will be same for a block of clubs with the same owner, they have the following break down of membership options:
- Individual class passes (most expensive)
- 4 classes per month
- 7 classes per month (website says 8-pack, my studios don’t offer that)
- Unlimited Monthly (the plan I have)
- Annual (pay a year at a time)
- Passport (the pass that allows you to go to any CP across the US)
The more you buy, the cheaper the classes are, unless you pay for unlimited and go less than 2x per week. I have always been on the unlimited plan, for me it’s less than $200 a month and I go 3-5x a week. This brings my per class price down to $10-15 a class. If you’d like to do pilates, but at home using your own reformer, check out my post where I find the 6 best pilates reformers for your home pilates workout.
How do you book Club Pilates classes?
You sign up for classes on your app which allows you to book and cancel bookings right on your phone. For unlimited plans, we can book up to 10 classes at a time. Then, if you don’t show up to a class, you pay a fee of $15 or so. If you cancel before the class, but after 24 hours, you pay $10. Personally, I don’t mind this, because it can be difficult to get into some classes and then when you go, there will be empty reformers. You know there’s a waitlist and people couldn’t get in because members signed up and didn’t show. Very frustrating.
They do offer seasonal deals occasionally where you can buy a block of classes or get a membership at a discount. If you happen to get into a new studio, they’ll grandfather you in on the rate you get forever. There are some members who were the first to join my location and they pay an incredible rate for their unlimited memberships.
How often should you go to Club Pilates?
How often should you go? At least 2-3x a week to see results. Sounds like a lot, but I’ll warn you: pilates is addicting, especially if you struggle with other types of exercise. I can go up to 5x a week and be fine. I can’t do that with any other kind of exercise, even walking. If I go for an hour walk, my heels and arches will hurt for a couple days. So, pilates is definitely addicting. I think if you mixed up your class types and levels, you could even go every day. To learn more about how and why I walk – check out this post.
What kinds of classes does Club Pilates have?
The classes at Club Pilates are leveled by difficulty. You start with an introduction class to learn how the reformer works and basic movements. This is required to take classes. Then, you move to a level 1 which is going to progress through exercises slower, with more breaks in between, a lot more instruction and guidance from teachers, and lighter weight loads.
You move to a 1.5 and it’ll get a bit more rigorous, slightly heavier weights, less breaks between exercises. At this point, you have options for different types, such as Control, Flow and Cardio. Cardio uses the jump board and you jump lying down. It’s very cool, I love it, but it’s heavy cardio and will work you out. You can always take breaks when needed, too.
After that, you go to a level 2. These classes move faster, exercises are harder, and the weight is heavier. I have been doing 2’s for almost my entire time at CP. There are different types, such as Control, Flow, and Suspend. Depending on the teacher, a 2 can be close to a 1.5 or it can feel like a 10.
There are some level 2.5s and you can go with instructor approval. There is a lot more balance work involved and you need to be strong enough to do the exercises without injuring yourself. It can be a really fun challenge after you’ve done pilates for awhile.
What’s amazing is you can make any workout easier or harder based on how you engage your muscles and core. The longer you do pilates, the more you understand your body, how to isolate different muscle groups and how to use your body to manipulate the exercise to meet your own abilities that day. Some days I am stronger than others and I can naturally adapt to make the workout right for me.
How do Club Pilates classes work?
After you’ve booked a class, make sure to arrive properly dressed, with water, at least 5 minutes before your class time. You’ll want to wear stretchy leggings that aren’t too tight and don’t have any pockets or weird seams on the backside, because you’ll be laying down quite a bit. I’ve tested a lot of activewear and wrote a post with my top picks for pilates leggings, but if you want the elevator pitch: these leggings are my absolute favorite. They are buttery soft, stretchy, super flattering, don’t roll down, allow your body to move and breathe, and are super affordable.
You’ll also want to wear a top that is comfortable and not too loose, as well as pilates socks. When you enter into the lobby, remove your shoes, put on your pilates socks (these are required), drop your things in a cubby and check in. You’ll wait until the class before you has left completely and then you’ll get your towel, spray and head to a reformer machine. Try not to change at the location if possible. There are bathrooms, but there isn’t a lot of time.
After you’ve picked a machine, you can put on your own straps if you like (I do, they’re more comfortable) and then pick out some weights. I use 5 or 3lb weights depending on the teacher. You only use these for some exercises in the class.
Then, you wait for the teacher to signal the start of class. They turn on music and they have you start by doing breathwork and roll downs. At the end of class, most classes applaud the teacher, then you use your towel and spray to clean everything you touched and reset the reformer. The teacher may ask you to do certain spring settings or other equipment placement to get the next class ready. This is nice if the class before you did this for you. It helps getting the next class started easier, because if people are right on time or late, you don’t have to wait until the teacher gets them set up.
You head back to the front, drop off your towel and spray, put your shoes on, get your things and you’re good to go.
How are Club Pilates teachers trained?
I almost did the teacher training program, so I know a thing or two about this. It’s a somewhat rigorous program that involves in person classes, online classes, book learning, teacher observation and a gradual release of instruction. Your pay scale reflects how full your classes are and how long you’ve been teaching, so it gives teachers an incentive to do well.
They do accept teachers with other schools of pilates training and then offer additional training to get them well-versed on the CP way. There are things that most CP classes have that are standard, so every teacher does them in every class. This continuity helps me, personally, know what to expect and have a more consistent experience. For example, classes start with roll downs and usually end with feet in straps. A lot of the warmups are done on the reformer, lying down, although sometimes they use the chair or do them standing.
Some people have criticized Club Pilates for having cookie cutter classes, but it’s like Starbucks. You know what you’re paying for and it delivers it consistently each time. The only issue I have is with teachers who don’t mix up their flow often enough. If you’re taking the same teachers classes a couple times a week, it gets very old to do the same flow over and over again. I can do that at home with a $10 video. I don’t need to pay good money for that. I find that very few teachers do this, though. Most of them mix it up all the time and always keep you guessing.
What is Club Pilates good for?
Can you lose weight with Club Pilates?
The million dollar question! I have found that the benefits of pilates is beyond losing weight. For all the reasons shared above, the increase in strength, flexibility and range of motion; the reduction of chronic pain and inflammation; the improvement in balance, mental health, and alignment, are all reasons I love pilates. I have seen tightening and toning throughout my body and this has resulted in the loss of weight and inches. Although, I do find that I need to incorporate a few long walks a week and/or other cardio when I can to improve my chances of weight loss. If you are looking to drop considerable weight, remember that a lot of this comes down to reducing inflammatory foods, increasing your water intake and getting your daily steps in.
Can Pilates change your body shape?
It can and it will. It leans out your muscles, making them strong without being bulky. It also lengthens muscles, so I’ve noticed a more streamlined look to my body, whereas I was much more curvier before. It hasn’t turned me into a lithe ballerina just yet, but I’ve definitely seen trimming in my waist, thighs, hips and even upper arms. Many of the teachers have enviable physiques that will definitely keep you motivated in classes to work hard.
How long does it take to see results at Club Pilates?
While this will depend on your fitness level, what you’re eating, how much water you’re drinking and other factors specific to you, you should start to see your strength improve within a couple months of classes. By 2-3 months, you should feel really confident taking a level 2 class and you will see changes in your body. My cousin was only able to go one time per week and after 6-8 classes, she was noticing that she was stronger during class and wasn’t as tired after. If you pair pilates with walking, you will see results even faster.
What do you need to take pilates classes?
You’ll want to wear comfortable, stretchy workout clothes. Don’t wear leggings that restrict movement or have lots of zippers and pockets on the back. When you lay down, you don’t want anything digging into your back and hips. Wear a sports bra, a comfortable one is fine, and a loose fitting top. I write more about great pilates leggings in this post.
You’ll also need sticky socks. They sell them or you can buy them on Amazon. I also like to take my own straps and sometimes wear gloves, depending on how my wrists are feeling.
Does pilates flatten and tone the belly?
The core area is a key part to pilates and you will strengthen it quickly with the exercises. If you have a pooch or a belly (like me and many other people), you won’t get a six-pack of abs with pilates alone. You’ll need to adjust your nutrition, water intake and probably do other forms of cardio – walking, etc., to get those coveted washboard abs. But, once you burn through the layer of fat on top, pilates will make sure you have a strong, toned belly underneath.
How do I find a Club Pilates location?
Looking to get started? Go here to check out the studio locator. These are franchised locations, so there are lots of owners and many of them own a group of studios. The owners of my studio have 5 locations I think, so far. This means that like any franchise, some things are going to be consistent across the board and some things will be unique to an owner’s studio.
Club Pilates has been transformative for my quality of life and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. While it’s not the only thing I do for my health and fitness, it’s an important part and I’m grateful for it.
I do recommend trying CP, but nothing is perfect. So, if I had a magic wand, what would I fix?
First, I would fix teachers who repeat the same block of exercises over and over again. They should make an effort to make each class unique. This is a very expensive exercise option and many people come because they can no longer do anything else so they come several times a week. So, mixing it up keeps it exciting, but also allows people’s muscles to rest while they do a slightly different workout.
Second, I would have them add a component to the teacher training about how to stagger exercises so they do not blow out/overly fatigue certain muscle groups, such as wrists or triceps. Many people come to pilates with joint pain, so if they’re going to overly fatigue muscle groups, clients with joint pain won’t get the full value of the workout.
Ultimately, these are small complaints and they are not things that happen that frequently. You’ll learn which classes/teachers/levels work best for you and then can schedule your classes in the app around that. It’s fun to see how classes will become consistent and I’ve had classes where the group becomes friends. You look forward to seeing that group every week and the teacher gets to know everyone, too.
Have you tried Club Pilates? What did you think?
Have a fabulous day,