"A few weeks ago, I was browsing through Classpass to book a Pilates class and I came across something that stopped me dead in my scroll: a class called Pilates for Text Necks. At first, I rolled my eyes and thought: How ridiculous! Has society really come to this? And then I laughed. And then I thought, hey, I should try this, both in the name of journalism and jowl prevention (and pure curiosity).
This unique class was created by a really nice lady named Kim Fielding, Director of Teacher Training at Gramercy Pilates NYC, who explained that Text Neck Syndrome (a real thing, who knew!) will eventually lead to neck and shoulder pain, nerve damage and possibly disc herniations. “Lots of neck and shoulder pain are due to bad posture, which is a result of slumping forward while using mobile and computer devices or just sitting at a desk. The specific Pilates exercises taught in this class improve and reverse this condition and bring better functionality to everyday life,” says Fielding."
EXPLORING NYC'S PRIVATE TRAINING GYMS: GRAMERCY PILATES NYC
Not too long ago, on what must have been the hottest day of the summer, I ventured down to Gramercy to meet with Ernie Fossa and Tommy Reichling, owners of Gramercy Pilates NYC. As one would expect when I arrived there was a small group session taking place with a young woman instructing the class on a row of reformers. Certainly this was nothing out of the ordinary for a Pilates studio. However, after being warmly greeted, Ernie, Tommy and I began to chat and I started to realize that there is a lot more going on at Gramercy than one would expect from a straightforward Pilates studio.
The first thing that struck me as unique about this studio was when I met Ernie and Tommy themselves. Ernie initially opened the studio with a focus on Pilates and soon after brought in Tommy who has a strong background in personal training and kickboxing. The combination of these two approaches has added a new dimension to the studio’s philosophy. The result is a hybrid approach to training that combines Pilates, kickboxing and traditional personal training techniques. Once we walked through the rows of reformers we arrived at a space at the rear of the studio that houses boxing body bags, free weights and cardio equipment. Their signature class involves an hour long session split into one part kickboxing class where their clients get a combined cardio and overall toning workout followed by a Pilates session where they work on an intense focus on specific muscle groups. The approach provides a terrific overall workout and is unique in combing these two types of exercise into one class. It also allows for a greater diversity of their cliental as the personal training and kickboxing attract clients, often young men that might not otherwise consider a Pilates studio.
However, despite the uniqueness of their hybrid training techniques, Gramercy stills keeps it’s credentials as one of the city’s top Pilates studios. They have recently begun offering a comprehensive teacher training program that includes a 44 hour mat certification, a 68 hour equipment certification and 345 in studio hours. Offered four times a year with a flexible schedule the program integrates anatomy, biomechanics and movement as a forward thinking approach to Pilates instruction.
Private Pilates teachers and personal trainers are welcome to bring their clients to Gramercy for a reasonable fee. Changing and rest rooms are provided in addition to lockers and a full kitchen area.
As with any fitness studio the success of the clients rests on the knowledge, dedication and passion of the instructors. After meeting Tommy and Ernie and hearing about the unique approaches and techniques they’ve worked to develop it’s clear that anyone training at Gramercy Pilates NYC will benefit from their fun and effective program. I look forward to following their future success and even getting there to take a class or two.
- NeighborhoodTrainer.com; September, 2014
Pilates Exercises for the Office
Pilates doesn’t always have to be done in the studio since Pilates focuses on correct body alignment, it can help to implement some of its philosophies in the office or at your desk to keep you focused and mindful of your posture. And, the fact that most people spend more time in the office versus at home or doing the things they love, never has it been more necessary to work smarter, not harder.
Ernie Fossa, owner and founding partner of New York City’s Gramercy Pilates Fitness shared several ways Pilates can relax us, keep us aligned, and help us be more efficient at the office.
Pilates aware = body aware. Since a key focus of Pilates is body alignment, a regular Pilates practice helps you become more educated about your posture. A lot of people don’t even realize they’re slouched over at their computers, says Fossa. When you learn Pilates principles and some of its alignments, preferably in a Pilates studio, you become mindful of being in bad positions, and you’re much more able to readjust your body.
Take a mat break instead of a coffee break. If you can find an empty conference room, or if you have enough space in your office, bring your Pilates mat to work so you can do some stretches during short breaks throughout your day. Doing so will connect you to your breath and promote better alignment when you return to your desk. For a sore lower back, Fossa recommends doing several classic yoga stretches, which are often incorporated into Pilates: cat, cow, and child’s pose.
Employ a small rubber ball as your massage therapist. In his studio, Fossa often encourages his clients to use pinkie balls (hard rubber Spaldeens will work) for self-massage so they can release fascia. Fascia is a fibrous connective tissue found throughout the body that supports muscles “along with other organs “which can also constrict due to tension and/or trauma. Releasing fascia helps my clients perform their Pilates exercises better. It’s the same thing for when you’re at work, and you’re very tight. If you release fascia in your body, you’re going to feel better sitting at your desk.
If you want to release fascia in the upper back, for example, he recommends leaning against a wall, and setting the ball between your scapula and spine. Then gently move side to side and up and down to detect any knots. If you find one, just rest on it, and breathe into it. You can also roll out the fascia at the bottom of your feet “not only does doing so feel great, but you can also do this at your desk.
Practice conscious breathing. ‘Breathing is a great way to release stress,’ says Fossa. ‘Think about where you’re breathing and where you’re not breathing.’ Pilates practices three-dimensional breathing. Inhale and imagine the ribs expanding forward, sideways, and backward as you fill your upper chest, lungs, diaphragm, and back with oxygenated air. When you exhale, visualize the air releasing in the opposite direction. Empty from the upper chest, downward. This deep exhalation also activates the abdominal muscles, which are essential to stabilization and posture. Repeat this conscious breathing until you feel calm enough to return to your tasks with more focus and energy.
- SpaFinder Wellness
Something a Little Different
I’ve had my eye on Gramercy Pilates for some time now. You see, I heard through the grape vine (pre RYB days) that it was legit Pilates, and the classes were expensive, always full, and have creative names that sound fun “ like Pilates Butt Camp Hello. Also, one of my besties lives on Park and 20th and she likes to fork into some good grub, so it was easy for me to hit buy when the studio finally came on gilt city. Ultimately, I was not disappointed, but still think there’s room for growth.
Let me be candid:
Sometimes people (echem me) think Pilates is the right workout to try when you have never moved your body before, ever. People. This class is not for Pilates newbies. I actually had been trying to convince my Park & 20th never-done-Pilates-and-don’t-work-out buddy to come join, but I am glad she opted out. Why?
- The actual exercises we did were pretty advanced.
- Use of muscles not normally targeted.
- Requires a basic strength level and body awareness to even do one rep of some of the moves.
- Fellow burners in class were very experienced (bury head in shame if you cannot do a pike)
- You need to have a good sense of balance.
- You need to not be terribly risk averse.
What is this Chair thing?
It’s like the old fashioned Pilates chair, but it’s new, made of wood, and cooler-looking. It uses springs as resistance and has two pedals that can be attached by a wooden stick. The chair also has bungee type chords you can hook all around the chair for arm work and for hooking under the legs for mermaid or outer thigh business.
- Pikes. Hands on ground, feet on pedals, pulling up with your lowers (lower abdominals/area we yank our lulus over) to slowly resist back up against the spring load.
- Jogging planks. Feet on pedals and hands on the ground with little knee bends. Hard, baby.
- Arm and ab. Sitting straight up on chair using the chords for biceps, shoulder presses and oblique twists, all while our feet pressed down on the heavy-resistance pedals, which hit the abs.
- Mermaids. So many you might even grow a green tail.
- Bridging. On your back with heels on the the pedals. The pedals want to shift downwards, so it was actually a pretty tough exercise to hold yourself up.
- Leg lifts. Facing the wall, no mirror, and no handlebars to pull you up. Hi. This is the move where I was like OMG MY FRIEND WOULD SLICE ME UP IF I HAD BROUGHT HER. It is very hard to cheat on this and requires a good sense of balance (you are balancing on one leg basically, driving the other up and down off the pedal as you lower and left) and solid trunk strength. All glutes. We were all grabbing the wall on the way down because we couldn’t see the pedal behind us and shit gets scary when you’re convinced the pedal is not actually there and you will fall into black holes. This would also not be good for the studio because they did not make us sign waivers. Protect yo business, Gram Pil!
- Superman. And other back extension exercises.
- Expert. Says the Gramercy Pilates website “ and I believe it. The woman could glance at you and tell you which muscles were not engaged enough to perfect the exercise. For me, it was my spare tire area, always muckin shit up.
- Stunning demos. This made me think to myself about how a Pilates background would help trainers in every exercise format. I could see Teresa pulling her lats down, pulling her lowers in and up, keeping the spine in perfect alignment, shooting energy out of her head, keeping her hips even¦. just a model of Pilates perfection, this one.
- Complimentary. Would tell us when we did something right. I love when instructors give a little feel-good-love to their burners. Always makes me want to work harder.
- Smarty Pants, knows the body. Because she has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. Holy.
- Safe. Cares about your body. In fact, she used Pilates to recover from a back injury. I keep telling my brother (who was recently hospitalized from excessive back pain) that he needs to hop on the Pilates train, but he’s all like wah-pilates-is-for-chicks. Shut it cripple-man, this program can save you trips to the ER. Back pain peeps “ give Gramercy Pilates a try.
Some improvement ideas
- More burn. While the actual exercises were difficult, we only did one set of each and each set consisted of between 6-8 reps. I like my classes really hard, so thought we could do more reps of each move to make the burn overflow.
- Pace and flow. There was a stretching sesh between almost every single exercise. Also, sometimes we’d just sit for a second between moves while Teresa demoed the next one. This caused me to zone/stress out¦ like the basket case that I am. I think doing a few demos (like 2 at a time) and stretching after a series of targeted work rather than after each exercise would keep the pace going and amp intensity and focus.
- Touch me. This is a 4 person class at capacity. And it’s Pilates. So I expected heavy touching and correcting, but no touching happened. I had to go to the nail salon and get a 25 min massage to get my touching in for the day. But in all seriousness, physical corrections are key to a top notch Pilates class, imo.
All in all
I love the chair and think it’s not utilized enough in more classes. Teresa knows Pilates inside and out and I was really impressed with her knowledge. With a little more attention to pace and physical corrections, this class is a winner.
- RateYourBurn.com; 10.16.2013
Adjustments "Я" Us
Lady Pilates and I have not been hanging out as much as we should be. I've been all like, girl you're kinda quiet lately, always obsessing about little details, never letting loose, and your posture is WAY uptight. So I had been ignoring her and hanging out with my boy Bootcamp, who's a loud, silly, dirty little man. (I clearly have a lot of real-life friends.) Anyway people. It was time to go on the Pil again. I'd missed her. My 5'4 body missed that faux-feeling of actually being tall without fumbling with stilettos that give me complaining content for the entire eve. Cue Ernie.
This. Is. Incredible.
There is NOTHING like a perfected pilates class. Nothing in this city or anywhere in the world, even better than mojitos in Mexico or dogs seated on mini chairs at restaurants in Paris or Iguana-less beaches in St. Lucia. The fine-tuned attention you get about every detail of your body and effort, holistically, is out of this galaxy. And Ernie, the Owner and Founder of Gramercy Pilates, does Pilates real justice.
- Ernie's hands will be all over you. It only sounds creepy if you watch too much SVU, but believe me. You want this. And from his magical god-fingers, you will learn new skills that will apply to every exercise method.
- Learn about yourself. Do you favor one leg? Does one hip angle lower than the other? Do you slightly roll out onto the sides of your feet? Do you lean forward one inch when you should be leaning backwards? Ernie will tell you.
- If you thought you had good posture, you thought wrong. Not until Ernie's dealt with you, at least.
- Of course injuries and names were sought. He has regulars like you can't imagine so you will stick out like you showed up to a white party wearing magenta. But in a good way. Ernie is excited to infuse you into the learning crew.
- Bridging. On your back with heels on the the pedals. The pedals want to shift downwards, so it was actually a pretty tough exercise to hold yourself up.
- Explains WHY. Why do we do certain exercises? What muscles are we engaging when we spin vs. run vs. jump? What's the science behind balance? I swear, this class was like a seminar on exercise physiology. I should have brought a marble notebook. Pumps=schooldork.
- This is where you get to know yourself. Your body. And your mental tenacity to do things right and be the best you can be.
I was pretty pumped to be taking a "Pilates Butt Camp" class. I figured this would be a burn-y little torture chamber for the bubble twins. However, for a class focused entirely on the Meat, we didn't really do any "butt" exercises per say. It was lots of hamstring/glute exercises. So no Fondas, no barre style moves, just solid inner thigh and hamstring torture. But there was definitely a riot of flames up in there!
- Warm up. 50 air squats, quickly.
- Standing inner thigh. To make it harder, we did roll downs/ups while holding the carriage out....I AM SHAKING. My body is trembling DEAR LORD.
- Stretching after everything. This lowered the intensity. While each exercise took physical and mental focus to do right, there was a lot of down time, which overall made this class lower intensity.
- We move to the Chair. Uh, hamstring hell. We bridged on the pedals, lowering both legs and then one at a time while on our backs. We then did more traditional chair work balancing on one leg on top of the chair. Thigh and hamstring burn.
- Tower work. More hamstring work, really frying it out. We did one move called the "parakeet" I think... I basically tanked this one. Feet were on the black bar of the tower and we had to keep our hips up and roll our feet down without plummeting into the tower's dark hole. Epic failure over here.
- Reformer work. Carriage kicks (not that hard but details people, details). Then some more traditional reformer work with feet in straps with the magic circle; this was TORTUROUS. We swept our feet in and out, keeping the legs very low, then lowered and lifted our straight legs with the magic circle squeezing for dear life, followed by circles and frog. I may not be able to move my thighs tomorrow.
Ernie is Truly an Expert:
For the best adjustments you can possibly get in NYC, I really couldn't recommend anyone as highly as Ernie. The Pilates Butt Camp was fun and I enjoyed how we got to use the reformer, tower AND chair. That said I'd love to see him teach a straight up reformer/tower class. Very impressed.
- RateYourBurn.com; 11.27.2013
Meet the OWNERS
Ernie Fossa & Steven Wheeler
What do you love most about New York City?
Steven: You can do anything - anything is possible.
What is your favorite NYC business (besides your own)?
Ernie: The street vendors.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Steven: Wudang Mountain.
When did working out get so weird? Between shaking weights and Piloxing (that’s Pilates and boxing, and yes, it exists), it seems we need gimmicks to shape up. Not so at Gramercy Pilates Fitness, where the focus is on achieving core support, supple and lean muscles, flexibility, and gorgeous posture to give you that long and lean appearance you’ve always dreamed of.
Designed with the exclusive neighboring park in mind (leafy green walls, sunny lighting, and a wide open floor plan), Gramercy Pilates Fitness is a breath of fresh air. Owners Steven Wheeler and Ernie Fossa (a beefy bodybuilder turned svelte Pilates instructor) take an anatomical approach to Pilates, meaning each and every exercise is devised with your body in mind, following a thorough assessment of your alignment and posture.
The machines may look intimidating, but the straps and bands become your best friends once you notice a difference in the way your jeans fit.
Trust us, they call them Reformers for a reason.
- Daily Candy Deals
- Lindsay Morris; 7.5.2013
This is my first time trying out Pilates. The instructor was super friendly and the studio is very clean and modern!
- Fifi Faye; 4.17.2013
We are signing up for classes. It was great!
- Stacy Tea; 4.15.2013
Ernie’s the best!
- Renee P.; Advanced Reformer/Tower Class with Ernie; 1.5.2015
Perfect lunch time class!
- Renee P.; Intermediate Reformer/Tower Class with Theresa; 11.10.2014
Rhys is a good teacher. He really pays attention to every little detail and corrects everything.
- Irene R.; Open Reformer/Tower with Rhys; 4.9.2014
"I’m a former dancer with a chronic back issue, so I’m super picky about studios and teachers. I’ve been to at least 10 different pilates studios in NYC Gramercy Pilates is welcoming, unpretentious, and consistently has some of the best instructors. I’m never worried that a teacher doesn’t understand my injury, which has been the case at other places. I’ve been coming on and off for the last 2 years. I like machine classes so tend to come back when they offer deals, which is fairly often. Of the current staff, I’ve taken classes with Allison, Rhys, and Mary, all of whom are really awesome and attentive. Unlike other studios, there’s no minimum head count for class if even one person shows up, they will still teach. Case-in-point: the other night, I showed up 10 minutes late for class it was the last class of the night, and I was the only one who showed up. Allison literally had her coat on to leave, and Ernie (the owner) was closing up for the night. It would have been completely reasonable for them to tell me I was too late. But Allison took off her coat and stayed anyway, and was so nice about it. Totally above and beyond."
- Julienne B.; 5 stars; 12.4.2014