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Chaise 23: A tough new fitness chair workout you can take sitting down

Chaise 23

New York’s newest fitness studio wants you to get fit in a chair. But this is no La-Z-Boy.

Chaise 23, opening tomorrow, uses a modernized version of the oft-forgotten Pilates Chair—with a resistance pedal, overhead resistance bands (they call them “bungees”), and cardio sequences—for its fast-paced group fitness classes.

It’s the latest entrant into a growing market of Pilates-that-makes-you-sweat studios using souped-up or tweaked versions of traditional equipment, like recently-opened Pilates ProWorks, which created the Fitformer, and SLT, which uses the MegaFormer.

The chic studio on 23rd Street (think mirrors aplenty and clean design elements) is the creation of Lauren Piskin, a fitness instructor and former professional figure skater, who even trained Will Arnett and Amy Poehler for “Blades of Glory!” Piskin developed the method at her uptown fitness center, Physical Mind Studio, but didn’t have the space to offer it in a group fitness setting.

Lauren Piskin
Founder Lauren Piskin is a poster child for her method. At 50, her body doesn't look a day over 35

So she trained 20 teachers (who were already Pilates certified), and set up shop downtown.

Why use a chair? “I worked with a Pilates chair for years, and no one was really successful with it,” says Piskin, who has 30 years of instruction experience. “As the chair became modernized, and I developed the bungees from overhead, I started to see bodies change.”

Piskin’s goes so far as to say that says her fast-paced signature workout, called The Reinvention Method, is more effective at sculpting a dancer’s body than regular Pilates or even barre classes. “The chair and the bungees force you to get into perfect form,” says Piskin.

During a test run of the class, I experienced that phenomenon. Doing exercises like pike and teaser on the chair allowed me to push my muscles further than I can on the floor, where I struggle to stay in position.

The classes are also perfectly choreographed to a heart-pumping soundtrack, and since the rooms are small (12 people in a class is the max), instructors can shower you with attention and adjustments.

My teacher, Knicks City Dancer Maria, made the class feel like a party with her energy and encouragement, while managing to carefully explain each exercise, even with a bulky piece of equipment that was new to everyone in the class.

What sealed the deal? The cardio-amped chair class made me sweat almost as much as a spin class, proving its role as a serious contender in the city’s new genre of Pilates classes that make you sweat. We can’t wait to see what other gadgets are going to be rescued from the Joseph Pilates dustbin of time. —Lisa Elaine Held

Chaise 23, 40 E. 23rd St., 3rd Floor, Flatiron, $30 per class (first class: $16),