Last Friday, the Greatist team bundled up (hello, 15 degree weather!) and ventured downtown to a take a Pilates mat class at Core Pilates NYC. Upon arrival, we shed our (millions of) layers and were warmly welcomed into the studio by our instructor Dan. (We later learned Dan was half comedian, half instructor.) With shiny wood floors and big arched windows overlooking Union Square, the studio seemed more like a dream Village apartment than a fitness studio.

Core Pilates NYCPhoto by Becky Berowski

But fitness studio it was! And while some of us were tempted to curl up by the windows to bask in the sunlight, Dan had a different idea. Only a few of us had practiced Pilates before, the rest of us were complete newbies. The basics mat class was the perfect starter to get an understanding of the basic principles of Pilates, learn some of the classic moves, and get familiar with Pilates lingo.

Dan walked us through the warm-up (wait, that was just the warm-up?) before rolling (quite literally) into some of the main exercises — all the while instructing us on correct form, breath, and alignment… and cracking jokes left and right. The first, and most common, warm-up was “The Hundred,” which entails lying on your back, bringing your legs to a 90 degree angle (with calves parallel to the floor), peeling your head and neck off of the mat, engaging your core, extending your arms by your sides, and furiously pumping them up and down for 100 counts.

We then moved on to “one leg circles” and “rolling like a ball” where we did, well, one leg circles and rolled like balls. Even with no experience (or flexibility), the moves were easy to follow and the controlled movements and stretching definitely seems like a great way to improve balance and coordination and strengthen the core and spine.

As the hour wound down, we completed a brief cool down while Dan warned of another instructor that would really work us out next time (we were lucky to get a fun instructor our first time around, he said). While Dan may have taken it easy on us, there was definitely some sweat and a lot of “feel-the-burn” moments. One particular leg raise had my hamstrings shaking like a Polaroid picture (and totally sore the next day!)

After an hour of laughing and a solid workout complete, we all left Core Pilates NYC walking a little taller, feeling a lot looser, and smiling a whole lot more. Not a bad way to start a Friday (or any day or that matter).

To learn more about Core Pilates NYC or try a class out for yourself, head on over to their website, or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to mat classes, Core Pilates NYC has a variety of Pialtes apparatus classes, too (if machines are your thing!).

Are you a Pilates fanatic? Terrified to hit the mat? Share you experiences with us in the comments below!