If you tell people you do Pilates, they often ask whether you do mat or "reformer" exercises, the latter being a bed-like contraption with weights and pulleys and straps for hands and feet. But at UpRise Pilates and Acupuncture in Santa Monica, owner Sheena Jongeneel also uses a third option, called a tower.
Uprise, 929 Montana Ave., uprisewellness.com
Aura: UpRise is a small, sunny studio with French yellow walls and lots of activity early on a weekday. There were three people in my class (six is the maximum), two of them regulars. That means lots of attention from the teacher and no chance to take it easy. Anyone from beginners onward can do a tower class.
Effort: This is a tough class, even though you basically don't move from the mat. It starts right in with a common Pilates exercise called 100s, which really works the abs, and goes nonstop for most of the hour. I'm a Pilates regular, and it was no easy feat to get through the moves here. The tower is a cushioned mat, with springs and straps attached to the wall.
Style: The teacher for my class was Jongeneel, and she's warm but all business. "We're going to do lots of tush," she announced. And she reminded us many times to "scoop the abs." She wanted to teach tower classes, she said, because she found that many people were not strong enough for Pilates mat moves, "and with the tower you use more of your body resistance than the reformer."
Cost: First group class is $20, single classes are $35, with packages available.