Perfect Ten | St James's London


Perfect Ten

Find a new workout this Summer at Ten Health & Fitness. We certainly did.

Read more

Famous for their signature reformer Pilates classes, and also offering barre, dynamic bodyweight Pilates, HIIT, stretch, TRX and yoga, as well as personal training, physiotherapy and sports massage, Ten Health & Fitness led the first wave of boutique fitness classes in the capital. Today the brand is still busy sculpting Londoners into shape across eight studios.

Ten St James’s started life as a pop-up in 2010. “We were given three months’ notice to leave our Mayfair studio and didn’t want clients to lose a single day’s training, so set ourselves the challenge to find new premises close by, agree terms, sign the lease and fit out the studio within three months,” explains Justin Rogers, Ten’s creative director. “We called the studio ‘temporary Ten’ but by the time we got our Hanover Square studio up and running St James’s was so popular we made it a permanent fixture.”

A couple of years later Ten St James’s was refitted to make it less pop-up, more proper studio; and last year a second space, dedicated PT room and an additional physiotherapy room were added. The result is smart and welcoming, spread across two below-street-level floors, with a packed programme of classes to suit every kind of workout want and level.

If you arrive early for class there’s seating and glossy magazines to read, plus a small boutique with designer activewear, beauty treats, workout props and healthy snacks for post-class refuelling. The changing rooms are stocked with fluffy towels, hair dryers, straighteners and lovely REN products in the showers to save gym bag space.

Reformer Pilates is where Ten started and what they’re best known for. “We call it the workout for the way we live now – it’s a time-efficient full-body workout, which offsets the harmful postural impact of spending hours hunched over laptops and smartphones,” says Justin. “Intense, absorbing and immersive, requiring focus and concentration, it’s a great time out from the pressure of work. And, for those with limited time to invest, the ability to feel and see results fast is massively motivating.”

Over three days I tried two classes, starting with a Sunday morning intermediate session. For the uninitiated, reformers are a strange looking piece of equipment that looks like a tool for torture comprising a moving bed attached to a frame, springs of different colours with varying levels of tension, plus a bar, strap and two pulleys. Props including a Pilates ring and hand weights add extra intensity. Our trainer Dee hit play on an upbeat dance pop playlist, then took us through a class that hit every part of the body.

Exercises like chest presses, glute bridges, lateral raises and lunges were familiar, but with the addition of hand weights, props, resistance from the reformer and repeated to the point of exhaustion, they were dialled up to the max. With just eight of us in the class, there was plenty of personal attention and adjustments, ensuring correct alignment and peak effectiveness.

Two days later, still aching from the reformer class and tired after a busy day at the office, I was back at the studio to try dynamic bodyweight Pilates, the latest addition to the schedule. “It’s a more muscular and intense take on mat Pilates – technically and physically challenging, and definitely not for beginners,” Justin warned.

The class took place in the newest studio, a smaller space two floors below ground level. With just six of us in the room there was nowhere to hide from our trainer Brad who led us through the mat-based class, to a soundtrack of bouncy noughties pop bangers. Props including a Pilates ring, slider and resistance band amped up classic exercises such as squats, inch worms, press ups, side planks, lunges, single leg bridges and sit ups that were repeated for short but intense bursts.

Both classes clocked in at 55 minutes but seemed shorter. Of the two, dynamic bodyweight Pilates worked up more of a sweat, but both were challenging and provided a full body blitz. The trainers were professional, technical and motivating. I left both classes feeling energised, keen to return and I swear, after the reformer class, I was actually a bit taller…