Out East | Pilates Plus

ERIKA BLOOM IS THE KEY TO YOUR BEST BODY— AND MENTAL HEALTH, SPINE AND LIFESTYLE TOO.

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Inside the Water Mill studio; Bloom instructs a client.

As a reformer pilates devotee, I’ve found myself in nearly every hyped-up, trending chain east of the Hudson River: SLT, Sculpt, Real Pilates and New York Pilates (I should mention the latter is still a personal favorite) so when a studio invite from Upper East Side pilates maven Erika Bloom made its way across my desk, I jumped at the chance to pop in for a private sesssion. Situated approximately half-a-block from Barneys and three from The Plaza, the studio is in the heartland of “Treat Yourself,” which is to say its complementary lemon water, potted succulents and organic beauty products feel both neighborly and apropos. What became apparent as soon as Bloom greeted me at reception though was that this was not your typical pilates studio. “Just stand up for a moment so I can get a sense of what will work for you,” she said as she did a quick scan of my body front-to-back and head-to-toe. Within five minutes, we weren’t warming up on jump boards to Robyn; we were discussing how she could correct my scoliosis (a health issue I’ve had since adolescence and one she diagnosed with a glance) and whether or not I’ve ever dabbled in holistic healing.

A former dancer— ballet and modern— Erika Bloom has been practicing pilates for over two decades and teaching in New York City for over fifteen years. She’s certified in holistic body methods including Klein and Feldenkrais, and in fascia massage, yoga, protocols of osteoporosis, spine and muscle imbalance assessment and correction, nutrition and gait analysis too. Clue number two: this isn’t your average 60-minute sweat.

We moved through foundational pilates movements, focusing on one area at a time: calfs, inner thighs, butt, core, arms and back; each series bringing imbalanced intricacies to light. If my left hip was 10 degrees higher than my right, Bloom noticed; if my core wasn’t engaged, we started again. “I could take you through some more arm work, but what I’d really like to do is focus on your breathing to help you with your posture when you’re not here,” she told me. We proceeded to breathe with a soft chest, expanded diaphragm and open shoulders; I never knew breathing could be so hard, nor so enlightening. By lesson’s end, I had never felt more balanced, light and centered. Bloom told me she used to have scoliosis herself— her doctors said spinal fusion surgery (a procedure where a metal rod is inserted into the back) was her only option; she chose pilates and cured her ailment herself.

It’s no wonder that Bloom’s business is booming: in addition to her UES flagship, she has locations in Greenwich, CT, Turks & Caicos, East Hampton, and now Watermill. Just opened over Memorial Day weekend, the new studio is an answer to the overwhelming demand for more summer classes out East. Private or duet sessions will begin at 8 am every morning and continue based on client requests. Of course, Bloom will continue to offer at-home sessions as well. In addition to the gym space, the location has an on-site boutique filled with healthful beauty brands like Bottega Organica and Tata Harper and activewear from Alo and Outdoor Voices; Bloom hopes to host juice happy hours or clean eating events in its backyard.

Overall, Bloom and her team deliver a lifestyle— it’s pilates, yoga, holistic health counseling, acupuncture, prenatal and postnatal work, and body work too; it’s the all-natural, organic beauty products that line the walls; it’s the eco-conscious fit brands that fill the studio’s boutique. And for the first time, it didn’t seem trendy, it felt real. Below, we chat with Bloom about her method and the brand-new studio.

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Erika Bloom

FIRST PILATES FORAY: I first tried pilates when I was a teenager studying ballet. It was at the pilates studio at The Houston Ballet Academy where I was a student. I was recommended to start taking private apparatus sessions due to some chronic dance injuries. I remember how strange the machines felt and what a new feeling it was to truly get in touch with my core. I had no idea at the time that that first session would lead to a lifetime commitment to this amazing method.

ON APPLYING YOUR DANCING BACKGROUND: As a dancer, you learn control and coordination. Pilates added a whole new level to that. It really deepened my body awareness in a way that allowed me to hone my dance technique, both for beauty and safety. In turn, my love of movement and sensory education from dance allowed me to be a better instructor. Working through my dance injuries with pilates was the best education I could get. Personal experience is invaluable in knowing where clients are coming from and how best to achieve their results.

WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT: I believe that fitness should not be separated from wellness. Firstly, because one shouldn’t hurt themselves in the name of a toned body and then need to be fixed. Secondly, because we don’t stay fit from exercise alone— we need to eat well, sleep and have healthy organ function. Most people are not prioritizing holistic balance in their bodies and their lives. In my search, I found it very ineffective that [healing practices] were all in their own studios with no coordination [amongst them.] I knew it would be so much more beneficial if clients had one home that offered much of their care so our instructors hold advanced certifications in pilates, but also study yoga, Feldenkrais, Barteneiff, Alexander, Klein and more. They work in constant communication with our acupuncturists, nutritionists and bodyworkers so that a client’s care is fully coordinated. 

THE KEY TO HEALTHY LIVING: The mind-body connection. When we are in tune with our bodies, we can truly listen to how we’re feeling and what works for us as an individual. This leads to balanced, healthful choices— from sleep to diet to exercise to life balance.

SCOLIOSIS DIAGNOSIS: I developed scoliosis as a teenager; the imbalances that I had from my scoliosis contributed to debilitating chronic dance injuries that would have ended my career had I not found pilates. Instead, I was able to fully recover from those injuries, have a successful dance career and keep the progression of my scoliosis at bay to this day. Our approach to managing scoliosis is to address imbalances in the body— looking at both strength and length— and to focus on the small muscles around the spine, muscles of the deep core and postural muscles. It is a very precise, informed approach that is incredibly effective and very singular to our method.

NEW HAMPTONS HIDEAWAY: We are so excited to have just opened our second studio in the Hamptons in Water Mill. Our East Hampton studio was so incredibly popular that we knew the need was there to open a second location (it was booked to capacity nearly every day last summer). Many of our New York, Connecticut and Los Angeles clients go to the Hamptons for the summer and we want them to be able to continue their work with us so they can stay balanced, fit and healthy. Water Mill will be open for the summer season while our East Hampton studio will be open year-round.

DAILY PILATES MUST: Breathing. Inhale into your diaphragm by filling your low back ribs. Exhale and cinch your abs around your low waist as you lengthen your torso. This simple exercise is an engagement of the deep core that will give you a healthy back and a flat stomach.

MAKE IT YOURS: Our sessions are entirely customized— not just in their programming, but also in the detailed, personalized corrections that make sure each client is accessing exactly the right muscles in each exercise. We analyze each client based on alignment, movement patterns and relationships in their bodies to see where they have too much mobility vs stability, where they have restrictions, and where they have faulty biomechanics. This is done in standing, sitting, walking and full body movements. Through our sessions, we achieve correction of alignment and restore proper biomechanics resulting in a healthier, more graceful, stronger, toned and beautiful body.

Visit Erika Bloom Watermill Studio, 760 Montauk Highway, Watermill, NY 11976; 212.288.3410; www.erikabloompilates.com CP

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