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A NYC Pilates studio recruits a Navy Seals workout

The exercise regimen that keeps Navy Seals in fighting shape has entered an entirely unexpected field of operations—the Pilates studio.

TRX, a branded form of suspension training, was invented by Navy Seal-turned-fitness mogul Randy Hetrick. It’s a long adjustable strap designed to keep you destabilized. Once the TRX is anchored to something overhead, you can use it to do hundreds of exercises–push-ups, bicep curls, lunges, and crunches. No matter what muscle you’re working, the core has to engage.  And that was the appeal for Alycea Ungaro, the open-minded founder of Tribeca’s Real Pilates.

Real Pilates founder Alycea Ungaro

Ungaro has a country house near Hudson, NY, and Brian Lawson, her trainer there (yes, even Pilates teachers cross-train), started using the TRX during their workouts. “I fell in love with it. The TRX’s mantra is ‘All core, all the time.’ And I thought ‘That’s what Pilates is!’”

Even though the TRX, which stands for Total Resistance eXercise, was designed as a general conditioning tool, “It works brilliantly with a Pilates regimen,” says Ungaro. So far, TRX suspension training has mostly been limited to the personal training world and a few pioneering group fitness classes (some Crunch and Equinox locations).  Ungaro and her team of instructors, who happily enlisted in the full 8-hour TRX training, are creating a Pilates protocol for using it in classes. “We’re bring suspension training to the Pilates community,” says Ungaro. “It’s an odd, but instinctive marriage between the two.”

And in that marriage, Pilates is definitely the one from Venus. Its moves are more subtle, taking years to master, whereas the tough-guy TRX kicks your butt in the first session. “The movements are simple and straightforward,” says Ungaro, “But just like in Pilates, it’s all about destabilization and using your core.” —Alexia Brue

Real Pilates, 177 Duane Street, New York, NY, 212.625.0777,