The fitness industry is a minefield. Which workout to choose, which studio to head to, which trainer to push you to your maximum without screaming like an army sergeant and making you sob into your dumbbells…The options are overwhelming. Which is why when you find one that fits, the news that they’re expanding is like music to your ears (or like the final rep to your HIIT session if we’re sticking with the exercise analogies).
Meet Hollie Grant. You may know her as the Pilates PT; the brain (and body) behind an award-winning studio in Fulham and creator of ‘The Model Method Online’ and ‘Strong Not Skinny Podcast’. Oh and did we mention she’s also the author of one of the hottest healthy living books on the market?
Already a woman to aspire to, Hollie’s public disdain for the thigh-gapping, skinny-pilling brands that are sabotaging self-image across the world has captured many a heart (including my own), so to say we were ready to dash out the door and onto the reformer when we heard about her new studio, would be something of an understatement. It’s based within the renowned Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and is an elegantly-designed space, all clean lines and neutral hues, as part of the MO’s gym and spa makeover. Whether you’re a hotel guest or not, you can book into the main gym where Hollie and her all-female team specialise in helping women to feel comfortable using weights and other machines so that they can train elsewhere with confidence. The piece de resistance however is the private Pilates PT space where you can book in for a 90-minute session.
Inside the dedicated studio (that overlooks the swimming pool by the way) is a treadmill, TRX, weights and reformer Pilates machine, which should give you a good idea of the kind of workout you can expect!
Before the sweat however, comes the chat. The first time you visit you’ll begin in the consultation suite where you’ll discuss your goals, lifestyle, posture and more. The instructor’s focus is on you as an individual and knowing what you want to get out of each session, so your responses shape the workout that comes next. Whether your goal is to improve upper body strength, shift baby weight, improve cardio fitness or just generally tone up, your workout will be tailored to fit. Anyone who has had a normal personal training session where it felt like the instructor was simply taking you through exercises that he/she fancied doing that day will find this a refreshing and much-needed change, and it’s this bespoke aspect that makes the Pilates PT so unique.
You’ll also wear a heart-rate monitor throughout your workout so that you (and your instructor) can keep track of your effort. This helps to ensure you don’t go over your maximum heart-rate but also ensures you don’t quit before you’ve even really started. The aim is to push yourself, but only within your own limits.
I have no doubt the other instructors are the same, but speaking for Hollie, she is as encouraging, motivating and lovely as ever, but don’t let her smile fool you – she will really make you work and will play close attention to your form and alignment meaning there’s no slacking off here! Beginning on the treadmill with a warm-up and a few sprints on fluctuating inclines, you’ll then move through a variety of exercises. My session for example swapped between HIIT sections on the floor (think box jumps and burpees), free weights and the reformer before returning to the treadmill for a final sprint. The constant changing of equipment and exercises kept me guessing and meant there was no opportunity to clock watch, which is a very positive sign in my book! I was definitely sweating but buzzing too, and genuinely enjoyed every second. (Admittedly ‘enjoyed’ might be a slight exaggeration when talking about burpees, but you get my drift…)
Even better? Delicious dishes from Hollie’s book are available upstairs in the gorgeous Rosebery Lounge; ideally located for a post-workout feed! Even if you’re not there to exercise, enjoying delights such as the cashew and oat pancakes, Thai salad and tuna sesame bowl are well worth a visit to the Mandarin Oriental, if for nothing else than to admire the décor and indulge your taste buds!
In summary? Just as you’d expect when a legendary hotel and superwoman like Hollie come together, everything about this shiny new Pilates PT location has been beautifully created and is sure to leave you feeling positive, enthusiastic and eager to return – I know I am. www.pilatespt.co.uk