The Best Pilates Studios in Wellington, New Zealand

Led by professional dancers, Guinness World Record holders and veterans in the field, pilates in Wellington is serious business
Led by professional dancers, Guinness World Record holders and veterans in the field, pilates in Wellington is serious business | © Jacob Lund / Alamy Stock Photo
Joe Varley

Wellington has a growing number of gyms and specific studios dedicated to the practice of pilates. The vast majority of these are run by highly qualified instructors with backgrounds in dance and fitness. There’s something out there for all levels, from beginners to lifetime fans.

Originally referred to as the art of control, pilates is a movement system developed more than 70 years ago. It emphasises precise, concentrated and flowing body movements all designed to improve toning and flexibility – but not to add bulk. Devotees have Joseph Pilates to thank, who devised a series of exercises to cure his wife’s arthritic pain in the mid-1920s, when he moved to the US and opened the first pilates studio in New York. Nowadays, pilates is seen as an important physical system to help flexibility, improve joints and restore general wellbeing.

Here are Culture Trip’s top pilates studios in Wellington to assist everyone in gaining ultimate flexibility.

1. Lana Phillips Pilates

Fitness Studio

Lana Phillips’ progression into pilates teacher was a natural choice. She was accepted into the junior associate programme at the New Zealand School of Dance at 14 years of age, progressing to her diploma in dance performance and working with both New Zealand and overseas choreographers. After studying in London, Lana continued to train and attend workshops to keep up-to-date with the science behind pilates. Clearly passionate about pilates, Lana enjoys seeing her clients and friends develop their muscle-strengthening and overall wellbeing. One-to-one lessons start at 75 New Zealand dollars (£36.15), with a 50 percent discount for the first session. Group classes are available up to a maximum of five people for 20 dollars (£9.65) per person.

2. Exodus Club

Fitness Studio

Based at Level 1, 147 Tory Street in the centre of Te Aro, Exodus Club offers day passes as well as monthly and annual membership to its fitness centre, which includes Sky TV, over 65 pieces of cardio equipment and well over 100 free weights. Pilates sessions are 45 minutes in duration, and focus on the six main principles: breathing, centring, concentration, control, precision and flow. Numerous experienced trainers have their own specialisms and are keen to learn about the client’s objectives. Accessories such as mats, blocks, rings and straps are all included, making Exodus a one-stop fitness venue covering everything to get clients in the best shape.

3. Thrive Pilates

Fitness Studio

Here’s an interesting fact about Thrive Pilates: owner and instructor Anna Cochrane was inducted into the Guinness World Records in 2016 for the highest static trapeze act. Daredevil Anna completed her routine suspended from a hot-air balloon 3,160m (10,365ft) above the ground in Ashburton – that’s nine-and-a-half times the height of the Sky Tower, and about five times higher than the previous record! Needless to say, clients are in safe hands here on Manners Street in the hub of the city. Single classes are 22 dollars (£10.60), while the bundle package is 200 dollars (£96.50) for 10 sessions.

4. Performance Pilates

Fitness Studio

Expertly led by Ellena Conland upon her return from London, Performance Pilates opened its doors at the height of pilates popularity in May 2002. Having taught pilates for nearly 20 years, Ellena offers a wealth of expertise and concentrates on both tuition and education. Studio sessions last for 75 minutes and cover 26 different lessons per week. Private sessions are perfect for beginners and are an hour in duration. All teachers at Performance Pilates are Polestar pilates certified, and Ellena and her colleagues welcome students of all abilities to their studio on Featherston Street.

5. Dynamic Pilates

Fitness Studio

West of the city centre in Karori’s Marsden Village is Dynamic Pilates, run by Chantal O’Connor. As one of the country’s largest equipped pilates studios, Dynamic sees to it that all clients are taken care of by the friendly and knowledgeable staff. There is a dedicated mat session for the over-60s at a reduced rate, and traditional mat lessons last for about 45 minutes for a maximum of 14 students. All equipment is included, although some people prefer to bring their own mat. Dynamic Pilates benefits from The Powerhouse Café, which is led by chef and personal trainer Simon Mitchell, and serves juices, smoothies, coffee and more.

6. Body Magic

Fitness Studio

Catering for absolutely everyone, Body Magic is the largest pilates studio in central Wellington. All trainers are Stott Pilates trained, with instructors motivating clients to achieve their goals in a challenging yet enjoyable atmosphere. Introductory lessons start at 40 dollars (£19.30) and last about 50 minutes. With classes available from 6.30am, the Johnston Street studio, close to Queens Wharf, attracts early risers and professionals.

7. The Pilates Studio

Fitness Studio

Owner Ali Townsend and her team believe in the philosophy that pilates is a way of life and not merely a series of exercises. The Pilates Studio, on Wakefield Street, deep in the heart of Wellington’s CBD, asks all its new clients to attend an hour-long private introductory class to assess body strength and to prepare and develop a personal programme. The studio offers additional one-to-one classes as well as group sessions of up to six clients to maintain safety and ensure personal attention. The space is really smart, with shiny wooden floors and boutique furnishings.

8. Awhi Yoga and Wellbeing

Fitness Studio

Before opening Awhi Yoga & Wellbeing, Jase Te Patu and Justine Hamill were co-owners of Power Living NZ for three successful years. The pair have amassed a number of awards and achievements, with Jason an Edmund Hillary Fellow and the NZ Exercise Industry Awards’ 2018 Body/Mind Teacher of the Year, and Justine the 2020 Body/Mind Instructor of the Year – so it’s no surprise that their latest venture is thriving. Awhi Yoga & Wellbeing, located on Johnston Street up the road from Wellington Museum, is specifically designed for pilates beginners and core regulars, zeroing in on stability to gain maximum control of the whole body.

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