The Best pilates studios in Toronto challenge inventor Joseph Pilates' vision by reinventing the practice with a contemporary twist and fusing it with yogic and martial arts inspired movements. While true to the traditional strength and flexibility building exercises, our city's studios take their own spin, making pilates accessible to our diverse masses.

Named for Mr. Pilates himself, the fitness system was initially developed in a hospital for the purposes of physical therapy. Until I was aware of the clinical roots of pilates, the associated equipment terrified me with its resemblance to medieval torture devices. "The Cadillac", a particularly frightening beast, would more aptly be named "The Rack". But there's nothing to fear, darlings. The equipment is designed to assist clients through pilates movements and is especially useful in rehabilitation. It aims to heal, not harm.

Pilates virgins can just start with less-intimidating mat classes, though (like yoga with more props and pulsing), working up to the BDSM-esque contraptions. I'm still uneasy with all of the straps and pulleys and considering my history of bad coordination, I'll stick with my mat thank-you-very-much. While I'm not crossing the floor just yet (I'm a hot yoga girl myself), two weeks of pilates have done me good. If, like me, your posture resembles a croissant, read on.

Here are the best pilates studios in Toronto.

Body Harmonics

Body Harmonics – with its two Toronto studios and 14 years of experience – easily tops our list. By phone, instructor Georgia Burns tells me that the studio is actually known outside of the GTA – internationally, in fact - for its teacher training programs. Body Harmonics has even developed their own certification and training manuals. read more

Core Studio

This hip Queen West space boasts newly renovated studios for hot yoga, mat pilates and machine classes. There’s something to be said for atmosphere, and apart from a beach, I can’t think of a better backdrop for a good stretch than exposed brick and views of the Toronto skyline. read more

Pilates for Life

Yorkville’s Pilates For Life has been providing group mat classes and private in-studio or at-home sessions to the area’s busy business types for 7 years. In addition to yoga, prenatal and pilates classes, the studio has added Ballet to its schedule for 2011. The use of props makes classes fun and assists pilates virgins through more challenging moves. Best for post-work workouts and shut-ins. read more
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The Loft Pilates Studio

The Loft feels a lot like my Physiotherapist’s office. That’s not a bad thing for a studio that specializes in restorative pilates and workouts tailored to healing. Trisha tells me that the focus is anatomy-based and teachers have a broad knowledge of the human body. Clients recovering from injuries are often referred from doctors or chiropractorsfor private rehabilitative sessions. read more

STOTT PILATES

The STOTT PILATES brand immediately comes to mind when I think of pilates. It’s not only one of Toronto’s largest and busiest studios, it’s also a state of mind. STOTT PILATES is a contemporary approach to the original pilates method, and has inspired developments in training and equipment for over 20 years. read more

Retrofit Pilates

This 11-year Bloor West Village studio is one of the largest on the list, accommodating up to 18 participants in mat classes and 11 in the upstairs reformer studio. The vibe here is fun, and the use of lots of props makes the workouts accessible to all levels. read more

Shas Yoga & Pilates

Lisa Beaulieu’s tiny studio occupies clinical space on the Annex/Yorkville border. Small classes and individual attention mean no slacking – Lisa is technique-focused and wants to make sure you’re getting the most from your workout. As her first love is yoga, pilates classes will tend to incorporate the odd sun salutation or downward dog. read more

Mindful Movement Centre

Owner Leslie is immediately welcoming, putting fresh faces at ease (once they actually find the sign-less Yorkville space). Her enthusiasm for movement is so infectious that she’s even converted her retired (and once-skeptical) Dad. Mat and reformer studios accommodate intimate group and private sessions. read more

Inner Hero Pilates

While most Toronto studios occupy above-store space or units in clinical low-rise office buildings, Inner Hero shares gorgeous waterfront digs with the National Ballet of Canada. While I don’t have much purpose for slinking south under the Gardiner in winter (I’m not much of an ice-skater these days), Inner Hero is yet another reason not to forget the waterfront. read more



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