Pronounced "woondabar," the popular, growing West Coast Pilates workout just arrived in New York City, with a street-level studio in Soho, where its patented WundaFormer machines will definitely elicit that reaction as people spot them through the glass storefront.
The machine and its accompanying workout are the creation of Amy Jordan, a Pilates instructor who wanted to solve for how much space all of the different apparatuses took up at her studio and the time it took to transition from one to another.
So, she designed one device that included the Reformer, Wunda Chair, Jumpboard, and a ballet barre, a "Swiss Army Knife of Pilates machines," she says. "We marry intensity with the integrity of traditional Pilates."
Jordan opened the first WundaBar studio in April 2012, and there are now eight in California (seven in Los Angeles and one in San Diego). She's had her eye on NYC for a while, she says. "We’re expecting to open several more studios in Manhattan and then just grow from there on the East Coast."
Here's what you need to know as the Wundabar brand conquers the Big Apple:
The Soho location is petite but pretty, like a neighborhood Pilates studio, with exposed brick and mirrored walls that frame the bright white, blue, and black WundaFormers. There are cubbys and hooks for belongings in the front, and one bathroom in the back.
If you've taken Pilates before, you'll recognize many of the moves during class, like piking with your feet on the on chair's pedal, planks and lunges on the Reformer carriage, and pushing off the Jumpboard while laying on your back for a sort of supine plyometric effect. There's also ballet barre pulses and upper body work with resistance bands and weights.
The difference is that it's all in one place. "You can really get the benefits of all the apparatuses in one," Jordan says. "The idea was no downtime, super efficient, super fun, and keep those results jumping because it’s never the same class twice."
My class was definitely upbeat and fun, but don't expect a sweat-drenched, music-booming Megaformer experience a la SLT. It definitely leans more towards a Pilates session in terms of speed and intensity, and because there's an emphasis on slow, deliberate, challenging movements that come from your core and employ good form, rather than rushing towards muscle-quaking pain. (You also know you're in the Pilates world when instructors throw around terms like "fascial flossing" and "thoracic spine" and tell you to "rotate your femur" multiple times.)
Whether or not it will catch on in Manhattan the way it has in LA remains to be seen, but it has one major bonus not yet mentioned: At just 45 minutes, including stretching, classes are over fast—and that's something time-crunched New Yorkers will surely appreciate. —Lisa Elaine Held
21 Thompson St., Soho, NY, 10013, 646-580-1517, www.wundabar.com
More Pilates intel: This is what a Pilates body really looks like and How Joseph Pilates started today's mind-body boutique fitness craze nearly 100 years ago.
(Photos: WundaBar, Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good)
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