Nick Psarros is a former strength and conditioning coach at The Australian Ballet School. His new Pilates studio, The Movement Refinery, is focused on the traditional exercises created by Joseph Pilates almost a century ago, with no dilution.
“We work the body entirely,” Psarros says of the vigorous and athletic classes.
Classical Pilates strengthens and stretches the torso, arms and legs with each movement in a specific sequence that warms, challenges and then cools the body. As with more contemporary interpretations of Pilates (which don’t involve performing exercises in a special order, and position the pelvis differently), benefits of the traditional method include improved posture, coordination and body control; stress relief; and improved balance.
“[Other Pilates studios are] either too clinical or too fitness-oriented,” Psarros says. “I wanted to create a space for Melbourne to fall in love with classical Pilates.”
“It aims to get the client working independently [so] that they know the work out, they know where it’s going [and] they know how to move their bodies,” he adds. “It’s really important for a classical Pilates teacher that we honour the tradition so that if [our] client went to a studio in Paris [they] could attend a French-speaking class but understand the work.”
Equipment such as reformers and towers (a wall apparatus) come from New York’s Pilates Designs by Basil. Classes range from beginner level to advanced, and alongside Pilates the studio offers seasonal sessions in barre and yoga.
“We’re also about to introduce the Wunda-chair class,” Psarros says. The Wunda chair is a traditional Pilates apparatus used to lengthen the spine and improve balance.
Prints by artist Amelia Wilson hang on the walls, and fresh-cut flowers, plants and scented candles are spread throughout the space.
“It creates a great environment for exercise, a type of exercise that really is about the pursuit of the mind-body connection,” Psarros says. “Pilates is about that marriage of physical and mental mastery.
“It’s not supposed to be a meditation exercise; it’s meditation through exercise.”
Furniture comes from Collingwood maker Redfox & Wilcox and Psarros installed a custom plywood floor.
“The handmade equipment I ordered from New York is in this really amazing colour, it’s called Fjord Blue,” he adds. “It’s a really gorgeous crystalline blue which instantly sets people at ease.”