Dynamic Pilates: Tone up on the rack

What is it?

Like basic Pilates, Dynamic Pilates consists of a series of exercises designed to engage and strengthen your core and lower back muscles and to improve posture. Where it differs is in the equipment. The entire, hour long class is done on a 'reformer bed'. If this sounds to you like an instrument for punishment, you'd be right. It looks like it could double as a rack. The bed can slide horizontally and has adjustable pulleys with hoops at the end - springs are attached to different hooks to vary the weight and therefore the resistance. The hoops can also be hooked around your hands or feet, depending on the exercise. You can lie on the bed, kneel, stand or squat at the edge of it to work different muscle groups, and add free weights to work your arms.

How does it work?

Classes are run in a room with multiple beds - eight in the class I attended, but a maximum of ten at TenPilates. Starting on the machine, you warm up your legs with a series of simple exercises. Though the series of weights and pulleys look rather off-putting, the instructor issued very clear instructions, so the mechanics of attaching and detaching are made very simple. For anyone with a basic knowledge of Pilates already, then many of the moves will be familar. For instance, a variant on the Pilates 'hundred' opens the class. The bed and weight systems allows very specific targeting of muscles groups, so you quickly discover where your strong points are. Or more accurately, starting thinking "Ow" where they aren't.

What's so good about it?

Pilates is always cited as brilliant for toning the body. Celebrities endlessly proclaim it is entirely responsible for their amazing new look. If you've ever done a Pilates mat class, you have probably wondered how on earth that's possible. This might just be the answer: it's much faster-paced, much harder workout and really works the targeted muscles.

How easy is it to use?

If you follow exactly what your instructor says, it's pretty easy. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, mind ... However an hour on this intrument of torture is a long time, and there is very little rest between positions so you'll need full concentration.

What are the downsides?

Obviously using the bed is something you can only do at a Dynamic Pilates gym or class, not at home. It's therefore not a cheap way to get toned. It's also the only Pilates class I've ever done that had me seriously hobbling the next day - a testament to how hard it works you (nothing to do with my lack of muscle tone, naturally).

How much does it cost?

TenPilates offer various packages and gift cards, but prices start at £25 per session - though they have an introductory offer for £12.50. Pricey, but if you can afford it, definitely worth the money.

Perfect if ...

You find traditional pilates unchallenging, and want to up the ante. It's also excellent at strengthening weak areas.

Best avoided if ...

You're not good at doing as you're told.

• More information can be found at tenpilates.co.uk

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.