Pilates by the beach—maybe not as delicious as cake by the ocean, but oh, you’ll feel so good after taking a New York Pilates Montauk class at Gurney’s Montauk Seawater Resort & Spa.
The studio sits on the Gurney’s Residences side, in a building tucked into a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Seriously. You see the sunlight glinting off the water and hear the crashing waves through the sliding screen doors that open into a beachy space with white walls and wood-grain-printed spongy flooring that’s soft on the feet.
New York Pilates founder Heather Andersen has platinum hair and a dog named Hazelnut. “The Pilates dog,” she says. Hazelnut wuffles.
You’re instructed to stow your things on rustic wood and metal pipe shelving that lines one portion of the studio. No shoes required for the Reformer II – Technique class. “Joseph Pilates opened a studio in New York in the 1940s, so a lot of the machines he used have old-fashioned names—like the Reformer. This is a modern take on an old design,” Andersen says.
The Reformer that she’s referring to looks, at first glance, like a low massage table. There’s a padded platform on which you’re positioned. Two raised foam blocks rest just above your shoulders. Your feet can be placed either on the base of the contraption, or on a raised bar. Andersen demonstrates attaching and detaching springs connecting the frame of the Reformer to the platform. “More springs, the more resistance there is when you push against the bar.”
This particular class focuses on proper Pilates technique: body positioning, muscle group engagement and breathing. The movements are gentle. At first you might think, “This is easy. When’s the workout start?” But don’t let the calm music, salty sea air and good energy fool you. A day after your fist Reformer II -Technique class you’ll be sore in places where you didn’t even know you had muscles! “You’ll definitely be cursing me the next day,”Andersen laughs.
But it’s a satisfying kind of pain, one that makes you want to return and do it all again, challenging yourself to improve. The exercises have a graceful quality—not surprising considering Pilates is popular with dancers due to its low-impact and focus on core strength. Andersen, a professional ballerina by trade, discovered Pilates more than a decade ago after she moved from Oklahoma to New York City to study ballet. An injury forced her to take time off and “Pilates was the only way I could exercise without stressing the injury. It kind of became my life,” she says.
She explains that part of the appeal of Pilates is the mind-body aspect of it. “You have to be conscious about what muscles you’re using. Your lower belly is sucked in at all times, you’re inhaling on the return and exhaling on the effort.”
Andersen operates two successful studios in Manhattan where classes are consistently packed and instructors know the names of the regulars. For the Montauk location, Andersen recommends booking in advance, but people are welcome to drop in to see if there’s space—though class sizes are limited to eight. All are welcome, as Andersen firmly believes Pilates is “ageless and genderless. We’re at Gurney’s this summer as part of Welthily’s Summer of Wealth wellness programming.”
In addition to Reformer II – Technique, two other classes are also offered at the Montauk location: Abs/Arms/Ass and Core Cult Jump. Each session is about an hour in length, after which you’ll be ready to cool off with a dip in the Atlantic that, conveniently, is just steps away.
New York Pilates Montauk at Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, 290 Old Montauk Highway, Montauk. For more information call Gurney’s at 631-668-2345 for more information or New York Pilates at 212-335-0375. To make a class reservation visit newyorkpilates.com/montauk.