L.A.'s newest fitness mashup? Cardio pilates

Cardio + Pilates is a signature class at Speir Pilates.
(Mariah Tauger / For the Times)

Does Pilates leave you wanting more?

A new fitness studio in Santa Monica is offering a hybrid of pure Pilates —  and extreme cardio.

Andrea Speir, owner of Speir Pilates, has set out to distinguish herself from other Pilates purveyors by adding cardio to the workouts on the standard reformer — the apparatus that is a crucial component of the practice beloved for its ability to elongate and strengthen muscles.

Owner Andrea Speir
Owner Andrea Speir

“I wanted to take the teachings and methods of classical Pilates and modernize it, get in some cardio and aerobics as well,” said Speir, who has spent the last decade teaching at various studios around Los Angeles and as a private instructor.

Her reformer barre/burn class adds a jumping pad to the reformer. The result? Almost no pressure on the joints, but a great way to speed up the heart rate. Participants spend time off the apparatus as well, using free weights, resistance tubing, ankle weights and doing mat work.

Reformer barre/burn is one of three classes — and a happy medium — offered at Speir. The power reformer is more classically inspired; there is no jumpboard or cardio, and it’s almost entirely predicated on elongating and sculpting. The cardio reformer class is the most intense in the repertoire, described by Speir as “if the gym and Pilates had a baby”: think burpees, lunges, jumping over boxes while holding weights.



The small, bright, chic studio takes a maximum of eight people, so classes are small. At the Sunday morning reformer barre/burn class I took, there were five of us, all women. The music is upbeat and peppy without being overwhelming — just enough to motivate and make you feel like you want to get moving.


With the small classes, Speir can oversee everyone’s movements, and she walks around correcting; even the smallest modification makes a difference in how the movement feels. She reminds her students not to follow or compare themselves to the others. “This is your workout,” she says.


The 50-minute reformer barre/burn is energetic, but it’s not spinning; if you’re looking for something where you’re sweating buckets during and are hyperventilating afterward, that’s not this. But it does feel like a true full-body workout — focused, effective and with brief and manageable spurts of intensity. Movements segue smoothly from one to the next. Afterward, I felt like I’d had a proper conditioning workout, but I wasn’t in pain or exhausted.


The first class is $25; thereafter, $38. Packages are available. Speir Pilates, 1427 7th Street, Santa Monica, (310) 260-4808.

What’s your favorite workout class in the L.A. area? Tell us about it and maybe we’ll try it for a future story.