Fitness Dossier, Vol. 6: Real Pilates

by Alexandra Ilyashov

AU Black 2 photo cred Tranzie Johnson copy
Ready for the latest installment of Fitness Dossier, an endorphin-addled exploration of all those super-chicly branded, sometimes quizzically named boutique fitness haute spots around town? Some you’ve heard tons about and others might not be on your radar yet, so we’re sweating it out for you and getting the scoop from the talents behind these hip perspiration palaces. This week, we’re headed to Real Pilates in Tribeca, where founder, celeb trainer, and author Alycea Ungaro has been offering the core-scorching, all-around toning perks of Pilates with a variety of group classes, like the innovative SpringTone program she cooked up three years ago, plus amazing one-on-one, small group, and duet offerings for a bit more personal attention. Her fan base includes the likes of Christy Turlington, Claire Danes, Uma Thurman, Madonna, Molly Sims, so if those gorgeous bods are any motivation, get downtown ASAP. Time for a couple teasers and a stint on the Cadillac…
Photo Mar 07, 9 44 37 AM

Real Pilates in three words: Customized. Community. Classical.

Before Real Pilates… I was a professional ballet dancer for many years.

Real Pilates mantra: If you can, you must.

The hard sell: We make Pilates fun, fast and sweaty. Our workouts are hard! Low impact can—and should—be challenging. We have an unbelievable team of instructors who make it a point to know each and every client that walks through our doors. Expect personal attention and customization in each and every session. Our studio is outfitted with the most effective and high quality equipment in the industry. When you walk into Real Pilates, you can expect nothing but the best.

If Real Pilates was a fashion house, it would be… Chanel, hands down. All the history and heritage, with a contemporary delivery system.

Typical threads spotted in class: Our clients tend to wear a lot of Pheel, Beyond Yoga, Onzie, Alo, and our signature “Real Strong” tops from Clara’s Boutique.

Recommended workout gear: Athletic attire with no buckles, snaps or zippers, and grip socks. I highly recommend tops and bottoms with vertical or horizontal lines or seams as they make great workout wear for checking alignment during Pilates!

Pre- and post-workout style M.O.: Tribeca chic! Athleisure. A lot of fun patterned leggings and flow sweaters. Boots that are easy to slip on and off for those fitting in a quick sweat session midday.

Latest class additions: SpringTONE 180 is amazing! It’s a new version of our signature SpringTONE class, which involves all of the springs you can take in 45 minutes.  If you think Pilates is “easy”…think again, I dare you.

Ideal après-class snack: Our Real Pilates Control Bar is out of sight, thanks to our in-house nutritionist, Amy Shapiro—it’s my personal favorite.

Biggest misconception about Real Pilates: That we only do private training. We have over 60 group classes a week on the schedule, including mat, reformer, tower, hybrid tower/mat…you name it, we have it. You can expect the personal attention of a private session in a group fitness environment.

Advice for a first-timer: Shop around our trainers and classes; we have a huge variety. Find the class and teacher that really works for you. Step away from the reformer. There’s so much more to Pilates than just the reformer! Meet the chairs, towers, Cadillac, and more. The reformer is fabulous, but don’t just rely on the reformer. You’ll be amazed at how much fun you can have with the other types of equipment. Plus, the variety will lead to maximum change and results. Also, commit to five sessions. You cannot possibly get the complete experience in just one session. Commit to five, and then get back to me.

Major mistakes newbies make: I see beginners wear loose pants or loose tops that interfere with their workout. Form-fitting is best. Also, sneakers and slippery socks are a definite no-go. I highly recommend grip socks or barefoot.

Earliest fitness memory, ever: I put cardboard in my slippers to make them into pointe shoes and danced around my living room until I was drenched in sweat.

Underrated classes to check out: Our Technique Class is fantastic—we perfect your form and function using a variety of equipment. You’ll notice vast improvement on the Reformer, Cadillac, and all other Pilates equipment. Pilates is all about technique—this class is for the fitness perfectionist. Those in the know love to check out our Real Deal classes, which showcase our teachers in training; they’re our new superstars. Not to mention, these classes are just $5!

Teaching vs. riding: In so many ways, being the teacher is just being a really good student. You have to pay attention, you have to be willing, and you have to participate. Obviously, the instructor is calling the cues and thinking about all that goes into the class, whereas the student can focus on themselves. As teacher or student, any good class will leave you feeling equal parts exhilarated and exhausted.

Go-to workouts beyond Real Pilates: I am a champion Wii Zumba player and have become expert at moving furniture to accommodate family dance parties.

Workout we’ll never catch you doing: Boxing. I recognize that there are benefits to boxing, but with all of the years I spent on developing my foot-to-floor coordination, I have absolutely no hand-eye coordination.

Classes clocked weekly: Three: One technique class, one SpringTONE, and one private session. That’s the perfect combination!

Real Pilates’ draw for the fashion set: The “Pilates promise” of long, lean, sexy muscles is undeniably appealing. Pilates makes you look better in and out of your clothes. If you like the feel of your muscles shaking rather than just simply sweating, Real Pilates is your winner.

PART II: The Daily weighs in…
Location and logistics: Real Pilates’ sole outpost is located on one of Tribeca’s most picturesque stretches, at 177 Duane St. A slew of group classes, private and duet sessions are on offer, utilizing a dizzying array of Pilates gear; group classes, including SpringTONE offerings, are housed downstairs.

What you’ll shell out: $32 per class, $95 for private lessons; duets and packages are also available at

Stroll-right-into-a-meeting or absolutely-shower-necessitating? You can certainly skip the shower, though there’s one available (plus dressing room-like changing spaces and a nicely appointed bathroom) should you have a particularly strenuous date with the Tower or a grueling ride on the Cadillac.

It’s worth it if…You’ve tried some garden-variety mat classes, but have always wondered about all that intimidating yet intriguing Pilates equipment—this is a welcoming yet staggeringly well-equipped spot to try it all out. Plus, unlike a standard-issue group class at your local gym, where you can trick yourself into thinking you’ve scooped those abs as much as humanly possible (lies!), Ungaro and co. will certainly hold you (and your quivering muscles) accountable. The results are painful, in a good, ‘this is really doing something’ sort of way. Thanks to Ungaro’s fanatical attention to form and detail during a one-on-one session, your Daily discovered that one hip is markedly weaker than the other. The possible culprits: Sleeping in fetal position on one side and perpetually crossing one leg over the other. Illuminating, non?

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