Pilates Was Created During the Last Pandemic; It’s Back on the UWS as We Fight the Latest Pandemic

Nexa Pilates, Broadway between 81st and 82nd.

By Lisa Kava

Pilates, a mind-body exercise method which focuses on strengthening, stretching and core work, was founded in Europe in the midst of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.  Its founder, Joseph Pilates, a German, later claimed all of his students remained healthy and that none had contracted the influenza virus, which was rampant. Today the workout is alive and well on the Upper West Side, where most Pilates studios have withstood another pandemic, COVID-19.

While Pilates can be done on a yoga mat, classical Pilates utilizes multiple large pieces of equipment, (known in the Pilates world as apparatus), such as the reformer, the cadillac, and the tower, among others.

Unlike Yoga studios, which rely primarily on group classes, Pilates studios were already accustomed to conducting in-person private or semi-private sessions (known as duets), in large part because the apparatus takes up space in the studio. Yoga studios were challenged this past year, since group fitness classes shut down in March 2020, and only recently received the green light to resume at 33% capacity on March 22, 2021. Most shifted to a virtual format, but some temporarily or permanently closed. While the shut-down was also tough for Upper West Side Pilates studios, many have been offering in-studio private sessions since the fall.

Candlestick Pilates, W. 83rd between Columbus and Amsterdam.

Joseph Pilates was interned along with other Germans by the British at a camp on a small island during World War I. Pilates, who had been sickly as a child, but later became a boxing coach, gymnast, and body builder, created a set of exercises for himself and other prisoners, in order to keep moving and stay healthy. During his time working as a hospital orderly at the camp, Pilates attached bed springs to hospital beds, implementing an exercise regimen for those that were ill. After the war, he was known to recall how none of his students contracted the flu.

“The “nobody got sick” assertion became central to the trainer’s regimen, and it was repeated over and over. In a 1962 profile, a writer for Sports Illustrated summarized the legend: “No man who exercised his principles came down with influenza during the great epidemic,” reported The New York Times.

Pilates and his wife, Clara, eventually moved to New York City, where he opened his first Pilates studio on Eighth Avenue in 1923. The method was embraced by dancers, including George Balanchine and Martha Graham, and quickly gained widespread popularity.

Pilates House, W. 75 between Columbus and Amsterdam.

The Upper West Side is home to numerous Pilates studios today. West Side Rag compiled a sampling of local studios, and what they are currently offering. Representatives from each studio listed said that Covid-19 safety precautions remain in place including: temperature checks, air filtration systems, air purifiers, mandatory mask wearing, health questionnaires, and sanitization of apparatus between clients.

Candlestick Pilates at 140 West 83rd Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam, has been open for private sessions since October 2020.  With the new group rules in effect, studio owner Hallee Altman will add another session per hour, increasing capacity to 4 people in studio, while continuing to offer private sessions. Candlestick Pilates has a back patio which can be utilized for outdoor mat classes.

Westside Pilates recently re-opened at a new location at 229 West 97th Street, between Amsterdam and Broadway. Owner Adrianne Yurgosky is offering private, duets and group classes capped at 3 people.

Pilates House NYC at 102 West 75th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam, is offering private, duets, and classes capped at 3 people. The 700 square foot space with high ceilings is open for sessions by appointment only reported studio owner Annette Fletcher.

Nexa Pilates at 2273 Broadway, between 81st and 82nd, is holding privates, duets, and group classes of up to 4 people.  The studio has 2400 square feet of space according to studio manager Dace Stringari.

NYC Pilates at 2231 Broadway, between 79th and 80th, is currently offering private sessions and duets only. Owner Randi Stone plans to add group sessions capped at 4 later this spring.  The studio is 1500 square feet, Stone said.

Core Zone Pilates at 53 West 72nd Street, between CPW and Columbus, is offering private sessions only for now. “I have huge windows and great circulation,” wrote studio owner Kathryn Pine.

Just Pilates at 319 West 74th Street, between WEA and Riverside Drive, has been offering private in studio sessions since September and will not expand. “The studio only offers private sessions as there is no capacity for group classes in general,” wrote owner Angela Wiele.

Moving Strength at 212 West 79th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, is offering privates, duets, and small group classes capped at 5 people. Owner Patricia Ruiz noted that all clients remain 6 feet apart in the group classes.

Kinespirit Riverside at 214 West 85th Street, between Broadway and Amsterdam, is offering privates, duets, and recently added group classes capped at 3 students.

Momentum Fitness at 246 Columbus Avenue, between 71st and 72nd, is offering in-studio Pilates Mat classes only, capped at 6 people per class. The studio does not have apparatus. Momentum Fitness will resume classes in Central Park during the second week of April. Class will be held just off the entrance of 72nd and Central Park West, according to studio owner Marco Guanilo.

Has Pilates kept you healthy and sane during the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you have a favorite UWS Pilates studio that we did not list?  Please tell us in the comments.

HISTORY, NEWS | 24 comments | permalink
    1. Josee Wolff says:

      Make sure to add Pilates Shop Yoga Garage, at 2805 Broadway/108 street.

    2. Riverside Pilates at 121 La Salle Strret next to Columbia University is open for privates. 646-431-5098

    3. My favorite Pilates studio is at Centurion Physical Therapy, 152 West 57th Street. It’s a beautiful, private room, housed inside of an equally modern and beautiful physical therapy practice. As a bonus, the Pilates instructor is also a PT! Can’t recommend it more highly!

    4. Michael H. Stearns says:

      You left out Ground Floor Exercise Studio on the second floor at 139 West 72nd St.

      • Marian says:

        Ground Floor Exercise is an authentic,old Pilates studio. I’ve going for over 30 years, and it’s just great. Well-trained teachers and Joie Gregory, the owner, is the best.

      • Sarah Strum says:

        second that!

    5. Lorraine says:

      So glad to see this article! I’ve been going to NeXa for a couple of years now and I love them. Their Zoom classes have been fantastic as well.

    6. http://www.mindbodyawarestudio.com/

      Highly recommend Kristin of Mind Body Aware Studio located in the Morningside Heights neighborhood. Studio currently offers virtual classes. Have been taking Kristin’s group and private classes for over four years — she is a master!

      • Stephanie Jones says:

        Yes! Kristin is the best! So grateful to have her virtual classes as a part of my weekly routine. Always so restorative and re-energizing.

    7. Susan Shennon says:

      The JCC Manhattan has been offering virtual zoom Pilates classes with Luis throughout the Pandemic with a good following and Frances Taylor who has worked at the JCC has also been offering virtual
      Pilates classes. They’re mat classes but very effective.

    8. Judy Epstein says:

      Please add Uptown Pilates on West 72nd street

    9. Marcia Menter says:

      Please include Pilates Shop/Yoga Garage at 2805 Broadway, offering private Pilates sessions, duets, and (soon) small groups. Yoga available by Zoom. The owners, Peter and Maxine Roel, are superb trainers and lovely people. I consider myself lucky to be working with them.

    10. L. Guinnes says:

      Absolutely Pilates on W 79th St is the real deal. Especially Sandra!

    11. Douglas Reetz says:

      I’m shocked, no mention of Julie Sorrentino,owner of Broadway Pilates Ltd on the Upper Westside since 1993. She specializes in dancers and injuries in all populations. She’s currently at 180 W 80th Street, however she’s now only doing privates,so good luck trying to score appointments!

    12. Wendy Heilbut says:

      Candlestick Pilates has kept me sane and stable through the entirety of the pandemic via virtual and now in-person instruction.

    13. Jim says:

      “The “nobody got sick” assertion: seems like a bit of a stretch to me. 😉

    14. Kayson212 says:

      Thanks so much for compiling this list, WSR. It may motivate me to get going again. Also an fyi that Westside Pilates’ website says its duet and trio classes are currently on hold.

    15. Adam Drushal says:

      Hi, we would love to be included in this list!
      Uptown Pilates UWS is also open
      136 W 72nd St, 2FL
      Between Columbus and Amsterdam.

    16. Marguerite says:

      Do any of these offer “unlimited” classes, or something like it? Or will any allow rental of reformer without an instructor? I’ve been doing Classical (now called “Romana” Pilates for decades & desperately need a place I can afford to work out. Help?! Thanks!!

    17. Thanks for compiling this list!
      Please note that Kinespirit Riverside, at 214 West 85th St, is between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.
      We’re so happy to welcoming our amazing community back for privates, duets and small group classes (capped at 3).

    18. Balebusta says:

      Pilates is my absolute favorite form of exercise. The best shape I was ever in was when I was taking private sessions 3x a week. I had to stop 1. because it was super expensive, but mainly 2. because with my patient schedule I never have the time. I am so glad that these studios are proliferating here!

    19. Please include the West Side YMCA for private pilates! No need to be a member to work with our amazing Pilates instructors. Safety protocols in place as well as round the clock sanitizing of facility. A wonderful community to be a part of!

    20. Alex Nilsson says:

      I love the way these pilates studios look. Immediately I was almost in the mood for exercise and it should be so. And besides, it doesn’t look flashy. I would say that it looks even cozy to some extent. During a pandemic, we simply cannot remain motionless, this will lead to serious consequences, it seems to me. After all, most of us already work from home, so you can’t do without sports in such a situation. I hope you are all in good physical shape, this is very important.

    21. TruthSayer says:

      Looks like Pilates does a body good.