The Pilates boom has spurred a mini-industry in specialized exercise equipment and clothing. While not a great deal of gear is needed for Pilates and even less for yoga, whose gentle stretching rhythms and mental relaxation techniques are often recommended to compliment and enhance the Pilates experience, a bit of kit is required or at least suggested by trainers. Although everything one needs can be found online or in most major chain sporting goods stores, many people prefer to buy local, often at the very studio where they take their classes. Here are five such “buy local” options for Pilates and yoga aficionados in Connecticut.
2889 Fairfield Ave.
Voted “Best Pilates Studio” in FairfieldCounty five years running by local newspaper subscribers, “BRP,” as it is known by its loyal clients, offers individualized instruction customized to fit the needs and abilities of customers. Although primarily an exercise studio, Black Rock does offer a good selection of work out gear. Physioballs go for $30-$35 and they sell the Pilates Magic Circle exercise rings for $35. Foam rollers and mats and Therabands are also available. Personalized one-on-one classes can be a bit pricey at $85, (with discounts for multiple-session packages) but group classes can be had for as little as $17 for a 45-minute session.
777 Federal Road
Brookfield, CT 06804
YogaSpace in Brookfield offers 19 different classes in yoga, tai chi and meditation – and its shop sells the mats, bags, straps, blocks, neck rolls, cushions and pillows and other gear to “support your practice.” They also carry 10 lines of yoga clothing, from Green Apple Organics to Danskin. Yoga is about more than a mat and a pair of pants, however, and they offer lotions, incense, books and CDs to help encourage and enhance the yoga experience. Drop-in classes are available at under $20, with three-class packages to be had for $36.
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51 Wooster Court
Bristol, CT 06010
Those who balk at the chic-chic $90 pants and $78 tees offered by the chain store boutiques can buy appropriate clothing for both yoga and Pilates at many neighborhood sports stores. Herb’s, with its two locations in Bristol and West Hartford, is recommended by many local studios for its budget-conscious clients. Under Armor, Tech Tee and Moisture Wick shirts and pants can be had at Herb’s in the $30s. They make lack the hoity-toity label of the designer brands, but they do the job – and they hold up under the stress.
PO Box 487
Jade is a unique place to shop for yoga and Pilates clothing and accessories for many reasons – just one of which is that it bills itself as “a mobile boutique.” They often show up at village fairs and sidewalk sales (in July they were outside the Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, before that they were at the Wilton Y and the Mother’s Day Trunk Show in Ridgefield). Owner-partner Maxine Fass Berg offers lines of “high-performance” fabrics as well as traditional cottons for the more organically inclined. Jade carries a selection of major brands such as Rese, Actif, Neon Buddha and Beyond Yoga, and at prices usually better than those offered by the chain stores.
435 Buckland St.
South Windsor, CT 06074
Cate Vallone runs the group of three studios that make up Connecticut’s Evolution Pilates. While the Hartford and Glastonbury locales both offer mat and reformer classes (the later requiring the big Pilates machines), the South Windsor studio also houses the group’s shop. They sell a line of clothing with their own logo, and at very affordable prices. They also sell mats and videos and (when they can keep them in stock) the Pilates Magic Circle rings. These are lightweight, portable and flexible exercise aids that can take a lot of punishment, especially those constructed of sturdy rubber.
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