Mike Huling’s Reformation Fitness, which offers small-group Pilates equipment classes, can handle five students at a time.

Thom Sinclair, 42, knew that the bedlike contraptions inside Reformation Fitness were for Pilates. But that was about the extent of it.

“I’ve seen people doing it and thought, ‘Boy, that looks easy,’ but I’m sure it’s not,” said Sinclair, who’s exactly the target audience for the new Shaw studio’s community classes. The free sessions, offered at 2 p.m. every Saturday, are designed to introduce beginners to Pilates equipment as well as to owner Mike Huling.

Huling, formerly of Vida Fitness, opened his own space to focus on small-group classes. With room for up to five students at a time, Reformation allows him to keep prices affordable while delivering personal instruction and a social atmosphere. To fill that room, however, he needs to explain what he does to folks in the neighborhood.

So two weeks ago, Huling held his first community session, which gave Sinclair and other prospective students a crash course on Pilates.

“Joseph Pilates invented this for wounded vets. It was used for rehabilitation,” Huling lectured, pointing out the Reformer’s sliding carriage, straps that can be held by hands or feet, and springs that provide varying levels of resistance.

Huling then launched into an intro class, with plenty of breaks to demonstrate movements, answer questions and adjust equipment. (He asked, “How’s the resistance?” approximately a hundred times.)

Starting with footwork, Huling taught students how to push off the bar and feel the carriage glide back. Then he showed how to use the straps around the feet for frog kicks and leg circles — before segueing into single leg moves, trying to keep the side in the strap moving in sync with the strapless side.

Huling makes beginners comfortable by walking them through new moves.

“I feel some parts of my body that I didn’t know I had,” said Jim Kreger, 56, who had come in search of something to supplement his workout routine.

Kreger was soon experiencing a new way to boost his heart rate as Huling introduced him to jack rabbits.

“They’re about as fun as they sound,” joked Huling, who demonstrated by getting into a plank with his hands on the bar and feet on the carriage, and then tucking his knees in and pushing back.

Sinclair’s take after a serious stretch? “It’s definitely harder than it looks.”


The free community classes held at Reformation Fitness (1302 9th St. NW, Reformation-fitness.com) are at 2 p.m. every Saturday, alternating between Reformer and chair/mat. Call 202-813-3647 to reserve a space.