The Best Pilates in Town

By Nicole Dorsey Straff / September 12, 2011

Best High-Performance Pilates

Mercury Fitness San Francisco, Three-pack mat classes, $50; semi-private reformer session, $56

Maybe it’s the proximity to the Bay or the awesome views of Marin County from the studio’s huge windows, but San Franciscans call Mercury Fitness the best Pilates place in town. Classes, most geared toward intermediate and advanced students, get fast results. Owner Lara Hudson, veteran of several best-selling Pilates DVDs ( has named the classes to reflect this hardcore edge: Death by David, Reformer on ‘Roids and Mistress Mayhem Mat.

What We Love: “These classes are not for the faint of heart—or butt—because they include lots of equipment, and the moves are super-challenging,” says member Brigid Finley. “In every class, I push my body farther than it went before, and I get stronger and leaner day by day.”

Best Pilates with Gyrotronics

Momentum Studio Albuquerque, Drop-in mat class, $25; private reformer session, $70

The largest (4,000 square feet) and longest-established Pilates & Gyrotonic® studio in New Mexico, Momentum takes an integrative approach to health and wellness that’s often geared toward professional athletes (golfers, basketball players) as well as athletic-minded exercisers. Unlike traditional mat-based classes, those offered here include Gytrotonic and Pilates-based machines (each handcrafted in Hungary) throughout.

What We Love: “We offer teacher trainings throughout the year for our instructors, plus Nordic Walking, Feldenkrais and alternative healing courses for all-around healthy living,” says owner Brian Alexander.

Best Pilates for Beginners

Studio Lotus Two locations in Atlanta, Three private sessions on reformer and three mat classes, $150

Studio Lotus follows the strict Power Pilates teacher-training program, created by physical therapists to incorporate injury-prevention practices into all sessions. Owner Davidson Reid says that all 30 of his instructors must go through a minimum of 600 hours of training over the course of a year, and they teach members on the floor first, doing traditional mat-work, until each individual is prepared to progress to more challenging movements. Typical class offerings include Beginner Mat, Tower Class (a tower is a piece of Pilates equipment) and Intermediate Pilates, as well as Kettle Bell training and kids’ Pilates.

What We Love: “The studio is loft-like and comfortable, the teachers are experienced and well-educated, and their apprentice program makes me feel like I’m in capable hands,” says member Jill Klein, 48.

Best Pilates for Time-Crunched, Real People

Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates New York City, Drop-in mat class, $25; private reformer session, $85

Whether you’re searching for top-notch mat classes with a twist, pre-natal workshops, or at-home practices, physical therapist Alycea Ungaro and her peppy, handpicked staff will get you started. Free workout downloads and online sign-up sheets are available via their website, and their Pilates Sculpt mat classes are most popular in-house. They also offer reflexology, massage and prenatal lessons and hold every cool tool possible—the Wunda Chair, the Guillotine, and the Spine Corrector.

What We Love: “The quality of instruction is extraordinary, and I’ve gained core strength and healed a bad back here. I am also trimmer now than from any other exercise routine I’ve ever done before,” says member Karen Langan, 40.

Nicole Dorsey Straff

Nicole Dorsey Straff

Nicole Dorsey, M.S. is a travel and wellness expert who earned a Master’s Degree in the health sciences while writing and editing for industry giants, such as The New York Times, Fitness Magazine and Her true passion is adventure travel and her spa reporting has taken her all over the world.
Nicole Dorsey Straff

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