It’s a weird time for fitness. On one hand, many of us have a lot more spare time than usual. On the other—weaker—hand, sports are cancelled, most gyms are closed, and fitness studios are feeling like more of a health risk (does lemongrass spray really clean a yoga mat?) than usual. I’ve been being pretty selective when it comes to my own fitness routine. I’ll kick a soccer ball around (if the field isn’t too busy) and go for runs (if it isn’t too hot) and do Youtube yoga (unless I don’t feel like it). My first venture into a studio was last week for a little taste of Core Community, a brand-new pilates spot in Kits. The medieval-torture-device looking equipment really isn’t that scary—and the unique studio layout might make COVID-conscious minds feel a little bit safer. 

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The Space

When you first walk in, Core Community looks like most other studios along West 4th—think clean, minimalist design with a few fun pops of texture. There’s a small retail section up front with workout apparel, equipment, and the sticky socks required for each class (you can BYO if you have them). A little change room and locker area sits just behind the check-in desk, though they’re closed for the time being to limit touching.

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Pass through a short hallway and the space opens up to a large studio decked out in pilates equipment, most of which looks super intimidating. The leather-clad stations have springs, handles, and ropes galore, but peculiarity aside, there’s something comforting about the way the equipment is spaced out. Think of it kind of like a series of treadmills, each with six feet between them. Unlike a HIIT or dance class, you’ve got a physical structure that limits your movement, so you shouldn’t have to worry about Cavalier Catherine getting all up in your personal bubble. The machine is yours. No trespassing. 

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The Workout

In this first venture into the world of equipment-based pilates, studio founder Mira Lutsky was my (masked) guide. The workout machines may look threatening, but Mira is the opposite—bubbly, fun, and super patient with beginners. That’s key, because for me at least, the equipment moves counterintuitively. For example, one exercise on the “reformer” involved lying on my back and raising my arms over my head, gripping a rope handle in each hand, and pulling the ropes in a downward motion with my hands ending at my sides. I didn’t realize my whole body would slide backwards (the reformer is on a track—like the world’s shortest, sweatiest train).  Mira’s very clear instructions were vital, especially in pandemic times when hands-on adjustments are discouraged.

Like yoga, pilates moves with the breath, so each individual can go at their own pace. The equipment eases the pressure on certain parts of the body while challenging others—for example, doing squats on your back by pushing the machine up, kind of like a reverse leg press. It’s easier on the joints than the running I make excuses not to do, and I didn’t break a sweat. Class participants don't have to be masked, but this workout is totally doable while wearing one.

But hey, I only did a short intro—Mira explained there are literally thousands of exercises you can do on and off the machines. I did about 15 in the hour I was there, so there’s still plenty of exploring to do.

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The Verdict

Even outside of Mira’s encouragement (I was engaging muscles I didn’t know I had; maybe she can teach me to wiggle my ears), just getting back into a studio felt good. I liked being semi-isolated in my own little area, and although my session was private, I would have felt comfortable if the room was at full COVID capacity—that’s just 5 other participants. And even the basic workout I did (no pain) left me extraordinarily sore the next day (yes gain). Plus, they're sanitizing like crazy in there. If you’re looking for some kind of in-person discipline to navigate your pandemic-era fitness, I’d check this space out—also, Rain or Shine is right next door.

Core Community
1926 West 4th Avenue
Classes are two for one ($44) for beginners; 24 classes are $39.50 each
corecommunity.ca