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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Where to go for rehabilitative Pilates in the UAE

A round-up of Pilates studios in Abu Dhabi and Dubai 

Exhale Dubai won "ladies-only facility of the year" awards two years in a row. Courtesy Exhale
Exhale Dubai won "ladies-only facility of the year" awards two years in a row. Courtesy Exhale

For rehabilitative Pilates

Exhale, JBR, Dubai

If there is one studio that has it all, this is it. ­Exhale’s teachers all have a rehabilitative ­background in one form or another and are able to perform private classes at any time of day. Its clinical rehabilitation programmes are ideal for post-operative patients and the studio also offers Pilates for multiple sclerosis sufferers.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: No

Teacher training: Yes

Certification: Basi

Cardio options: Yes (jumpboard)

Facilities: Toilets, no showers

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes (Dh10 per hour)

Price per session: Mat work is Dh100 per class (maximum 14 people per class); equipment is Dh140 per class (maximum eight people per class)

Website: www.exhaledubai.com

Emilie Goldstein Mikulla teaches myofascial release using therapy balls at Naya and elsewhere. Courtesy Emilie Goldstein Mikulla
Emilie Goldstein Mikulla teaches myofascial release using therapy balls at Naya and elsewhere. Courtesy Emilie Goldstein Mikulla

Naya, Motor City, Dubai

What is so reassuring about this boutique studio is the concentration of rehabilitative teachers in one setting, including Emilie Goldstein Mikulla. She bases her class on releasing muscle tension before beginning strength training, an approach yet to be seen elsewhere.

Fully equipped: From September

Master trainer: Laura Weston

Teacher training: Yes

Certification: Balanced Body

Cardio options: Yes (jumpboard)

Facilities: Toilets, lockers, no showers

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes (free)

Price per session: Mat work is Dh85 per class (typically 10 to 12 per class); equipment is Dh100 per class (maximum six ­people per class)

Website: www.naya.ae

Real Pilates, JLT and Jumeirah, Dubai

This centre promotes the Stott Pilates method, is conveniently located and has a gym feel. There is an in-house neuromuscular therapist and several certified physical therapists, one with a neuroscience background.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: Michelle Scott

Teacher training: Yes

Certification: Stott

Cardio options: Yes (jumpboard, fusion X, real barre)

Facilities: Showers, lockers, toilets

Ground floor: No

Parking: Yes (free)

Price per session: Mat work is Dh85 per class (typically 15 people per class); equipment is Dh110 per class (10 people for reformer and five people for chair)

Website: www.real-pilates.com

For a classical practise

Susannah Fustok, owner of Pure Pilates, teaches the classical method and trained directly under the disciples of Joseph Pilates. Courtesy Pure Pilates
Susannah Fustok, owner of Pure Pilates, teaches the classical method and trained directly under the disciples of Joseph Pilates. Courtesy Pure Pilates

Pure Pilates, Dubai

Susanna Fustok, owner of Pure Pilates, is intent on teaching it like Joseph Pilates intended. The ­master trainer studied directly under Joseph’s ­followers and recently hosted a workshop with Jay Grimes (who worked with Joseph’s wife, Clara, after his death) at the helm. The studio is flooded with sunshine thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views. Classes are individualised, yet conform to the same circuits taught by Joseph, which is something that most studios don’t offer.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: Susanna Fustok

Teacher training: No

Cardio options: No

Facilities: No

Ground floor: No

Parking: Yes (free for two hours)

Price per session: Mat work is Dh120 per class (maximum five people per class; note: mats are equipment mats versus flat mats); equipment is Dh150 per class (maximum five people per class)

Website: www.purepilatesdubai.com

True Pilates, Abu Dhabi

Personally trained and certified in New York by Romana Kryzanowska and Sari Mejia Santo (who trained under Joseph Pilates and his wife), Patricia Lee brought True Pilates from London to Abu Dhabi, teaching from her home on Saadiyat. With a prudent but thorough approach, you will learn the moves correctly. Plus, the views are amazing.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: Yes

Teacher training: No

Cardio options: No

Facilities: Bathroom, no shower

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes

Price per session: On request (maximum four people per mat work class and two people per equipment class)

Website: www.truepilateslondon.com

For a range of Pilates-based workouts

Bodytree is fully equipped with Stott apparatus. Courtesy Bodytree
Bodytree is fully equipped with Stott apparatus. Courtesy Bodytree

Bodytree Studio, Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, Bodytree is the market leader, with classes ranging from jumpboard to Stott Pilates sessions; and from spinning to dance. It also offers postural analysis sessions. What ties all these components together is their ability to enhance the overall Pilates experience. There are also regular workshops on myofascial awareness and the like. Basi-trained Kathy Kleiver has outstanding knowledge of anatomy and guides clients through movements. There is also an ­organic cafe on site.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: No

Teacher training: No

Cardio options: Yes (jumpboard, spinning, dance cardio, HIIT)

Facilities: Showers, bathrooms, lockers, hairdryers

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes

Price per session: Mat work is Dh70 per class (maximum 12 people per class); equipment is Dh120 per class (maximum six people per class)

Website: www.bodytreestudio.com

Zen, Emirates Hills, Dubai

With only four or five people per class – and a small space – sessions here feel personalised, and teacher Roula Milopoulos is able to pinpoint even the smallest of biomechanical misalignments.

Fully equipped: Yes

Master trainer: Laura Weston

Teacher training: No

Cardio options: Yes (cardio reformer)

Facilities: Showers and toilets at Fitness First next door

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes (free)

Price per session: Mat work is Dh90 per class; equipment is Dh110 per class (maximum five ­people per class)

Website: www.yoga.ae

Roshi Ross Fitness, Dubai

You will be sure to work up a sweat here. Roshi ­diverges from the classical by incorporating all sorts of gadgets, from balls to magic circles, while on the reformer. The studio mixes it up every week, so you will be sure never to get bored.

Fully equipped: No (reformer only)

Master trainer: No

Teacher training: No

Cardio options: Yes (mini-trampoline)

Facilities: Yes (bathroom)

Ground floor: Yes

Parking: Yes

Price per session: Dh100 (maximum five people per class)

Website: www.roshiross.com

Note: Studios qualify as fully equipped if they have the following equipment: a trapeze table, reformer, Wunda chair and ladder barrel, as well as other basic pieces of apparatus

Meet the trainers

While many rehabilitative pilates teachers are attached to a specific studio, a handful operate on a nomadic basis.

Caroline Leon, a Pilates master trainer, will soon launch an education company to bridge the gap between knowledge and physiotherapeutic approaches. Courtesy Caroline Leon
Caroline Leon, a Pilates master trainer, will soon launch an education company to bridge the gap between knowledge and physiotherapeutic approaches. Courtesy Caroline Leon

Caroline Leon, owner of Life of Energy and the soon-to-launch Life of Education, is a Pilates master trainer and says the freedom of being a freelancer has helped her come up with several knowledge-based solutions.

“As freelancers, there is less stability, but oftentimes more reward,” she says. “There are many different modalities under the ­Pilates umbrella, but more importantly, there is a massive gap in the industry between knowledge and physiotherapy. We wanted to bridge the gap between these two modalities, which is why we established a Life of Education.”

Karin Locher's myofascial release methdology restores and resets pathways in the connective tissue surrounding muscle fibre. Courtesy Amanda Duncan
Karin Locher's myofascial release methdology restores and resets pathways in the connective tissue surrounding muscle fibre. Courtesy Amanda Duncan

Like other teachers with a rehabilitative background, Karin Locher, owner of Spatial Medicine, advocates moving through Pilates poses not by contracting the stomach muscles, as is commonly advocated, but rather, by moving in an integrated manner. For example, going into a teaser (V-shape), Locher recommends lifting the torso and legs by visualising body parts as interconnected by a single suspension. Going into bridge pose lying down, where one instinctively lifts the lower body by clenching the glutes, Locher suggests that you lift by ensuring the pelvis is in neutral and using your hamstrings instead, a subtle, yet markedly distinct movement.

Amanda Duncan, owner of Phoenix Rising, another integrative movement company, is a disciple of Karin Locher and a faculty member of Spatial Medicine who also advocates moving by keeping space between joints and bones rather than constantly contracting. Contrary to purely biomechanical methods, “the body needs space to move”, says Duncan. “Moving with compression, as is commonly advocated, will lead to pain. Therefore, it is our aim to teach movement through decompression. When we move this way, we find the internal space to stretch any part of the body away from a 'pin' point, be it the hands, feet, sacrum or other body part. It is through subtlety that we counter gravity.”

Weston offers teacher training at Naya and other venues upon request. Courtesy Laura Weston
Weston offers teacher training at Naya and other venues upon request. Courtesy Laura Weston

Laura Weston is a Pilates master trainer with Balanced Body who provides teacher training upon request. With a more-than-thorough and savvy approach to anatomical alignment, you'll be sure never to miss a detail in your teacher training.

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