Left: Pilates instructor Timea Presley demonstrates how to use the Pilates reformer. Right: Spinlates involves a 25-minute warmup cycling session. Photographs courtesy of Mint DC and by Kevin Koski.
Last Thursday, five of us and instructor Timea Presley found ourselves biking along the streets of Ibiza, a vibrant, beautiful Mediterranean island off the coast of Spain.
We passed tanning beauties on the beach while tasting the salty air, and we breathed hard as we steadily climbed the hilly terrain.
At least, that’s what we imagined. In reality, we were stuck in a hot room at Mint DC in Dupont Circle on stationary Schwinn bicycles, listening to Presley describe the scenery of what sounded like paradise. The five of us were taking part in her new class called Spinlates, a 55-minute session that’s a hybrid of indoor cycling and Pilates.
For the first 25 minutes of the class, Presley’s cycling session works to warm up muscles before moving to the Pilates portion, something that Presley herself needs these days. After jumping on the indoor cycling hype this past year, the dancer-turned-Pilates instructor took advantage of the gym’s new cycling studio by adding this combination class to the schedule.
“People who do yoga and Pilates are all about mind and body, but they tend to forget about cardio,” Presley says. “Now that I’m older, I need that warmup before diving into Pilates.”
But don’t expect pulsing music and an in-your-face instructor rocking a headset during the cycling session. While you will sweat and feel a burn, Presley’s calming tone and descriptive guidance through places like Ibiza, Berlin, and Jamaica—places she’s traveled often—will get you in the mindset for the next portion of the class: Pilates on a reformer.
The Pilates reformer looks intimidating—and it is, if it’s your first time using it. The wooden machine involves a bunch of springs, cables, and pulleys that provide resistance. In mat Pilates, your own body provides the resistance.
I did my best to keep up with the rest of the crew; clearly I was the only newbie in the class. At times I felt like I was on a torture apparatus, while on my back, hands clasping the handles, and legs stretched up in the air. And the intense exercises did occasionally feel like torture on my shoulders, core, and hip flexors, though somehow in a good way. Presley was right—I realized how important the cycling warmup session was in helping me twist my body into pretzel-like positions.
Using the reformer we went through the same exercises done on a mat, such as the hundred, roll-ups, and one-leg circles. But the reformer also let us to do simple bicep curls and tricep dips with the cables, allowing for a full-body workout.
As we ended the class with a quick cool-down stretch off the reformer, my muscles felt weak with exhaustion. Mentally, though, I felt that high I typically get after a grueling run or a full-hour cycle session.
“It’s just a great way to add some fun to Pilates,” says Presley.
Spinlates is open to nonmembers for $272 for eight sessions. Since each class only fits five, you’ll want to sign up as soon as possible.