Ever wake up the morning after a workout thinking “That hurts so good”? btone in Back Bay pretty much guarantees that feeling. An unexpectedly challenging workout, even for someone who attends Pilates classes regularly…we left class thinking that machine just absolutely owned our morning.
Keep in mind this is not your graceful, peaceful reformer style class. This is ‘today’s hits’ coming from the speakers, instructor rockin’ a mic, and that ‘beast of a thing’ called the Megaformer. While Basi and Stott are the Biggie Smalls/Tupac of Pilates — the Megaformer is Drake.
Here are some tips if you think you are ready for one of the hardest workouts on Back Bay’s Newbury Street: sign up early, purchase the three for $30.00 intro pack, make sure to get there early to grab a front row Megaformer, and cue Drake’s “started from the bottom now we’re here” as you hike up the four floors to reach the sweatiest Megaformer class in town.
Warning: We have never, we mean never, sweat in a Reformer or Megaformer class before…..and then there was TONE.
The springs were set and we were onto our first exercise; it’s time to work on our plank game, using the mat on the Megaformers to glide us back and forward. About 20 seconds in and we were sweating and at the same time realizing this is going to be one hell of a workout.
Three plank exercises later and we were on the backside of the Megaformer for obliques…and o-m-g did we feel it. Each exercise was beautifully cued by the instructor, letting us know “15 more seconds” and always pushing us past our comfort zone – ooh but it hurt so good. Then it was onto legs, using the back platform of the Megaformer and red bands in our hands as we squat, side lunge, squat again and of course adding in pulses, all the pulses. We mix in glute exercises and chest presses (yep, on the Megaformer) and then it was onto our final mission: reverse giant wheelbarrow, an exercise for the triceps, shoulders, lats, and abdominals. Before we knew, it we had burned almost 800 calories and were gazing at our neighbors with a smile of relief that we made it to the end.
Friendly – Check.
Studio Tour – Check.
Demonstrations / Cueing – Check Check.
Let’s just start by saying that our 11:00am class with Nicole Perry on a Tuesday had 13 out of 14 spaces filled: impressive. Nicole describes each exercise as if she were Siri leading us from our home to our final destination, including ETA of the current exercise and alternative routes (aka modifications) on how to get there. She is never afraid to jump on the Megaformer to demo the more complicated exercises, which in our book is a must. She is friendly and upbeat, and coaches everyone to the end of class with a smile. We did miss the hands-on adjustments we normally get in a smaller class but nonetheless we would recommend her to any pro or first timer.
You know that apartment you had right after college? Yah that first one that was a little janky and had you feeling like ‘hey we live in the coolest neighborhood but our apartment still has that old school heater’? That’s how we would describe BTONE. The reception desk, which is in the actual studio room, looked like a tornado had just blown through. The studio space itself is open, with great lighting, amazing setup, but with one shower, one toilet, and fourteen reformers, we felt like we were back in our freshmen dorm again. But hey! At least there is an option to shower! Bring your own products and towel, though, or you’ll be stuck with 2-in-1 shampoo and borrowing a dirty towel off the back of the door.
30 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116 Back Bay Rowing $$$
btone Back Bay
Back Bay Pilates, Rowing $$$
30 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116
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We love Lisa. Wait, more like obsessed. Despite being surrounded by other students, we felt as though we had a personalized class complete with a killer workout. And we’re pretty sure the others felt the same way. After all, Lisa knew everyone by name, and gave individualized attention, keeping the pace of the class moving all the meanwhile demonstrating and clearly explaining the movements. We were guided accurately throughout the whole class–making us feel like total pros. It’s instructors like Lisa that–and the fact our abs are still sore four days later–will make us come back again and again. If your goal is to feel the burn and make sure every movement you’re doing is correct, then just look for Lisa on the schedule.
btone Back BayPilates
Jody was all the about the legs and the core. She had us rotating between leg and core movements every other minute and boy did we feel the burn. Jody kept the class moving and pushing us to transition between movements without dilly-dallying. She was extremely attentive; constantly walked around the room correcting form and giving demonstrations before each movement. She even went around fixing everyone’s carriages before each exercise to make sure the proper weight was on the machine. This attention to detail, along with her sweet personality made us feel welcomed and eager to come back to her class for more.
btone Back BayPilates
Amy was all business. She gave loud, clear direction and we liked it, a lot. She primarily focused on glutes and arms which we aren’t complaining about. We’ve been sore for days and our butt actually already feels rounded and toned from one class (miracles do happen). What we really appreciated was that Amy was supportive and motivating throughout the class. Trying to get us to hold and pulse just a little bit longer to really make the magic happen. We wish she had incorporated a bit more abs but now we’re just nit-picking.
btone Back BayPilates
Amanda is cute, bubbly, personable and a positive voice to coach us through the class. Amanda’s class goes by in the blink of an eye – the whole time we battled in our heads “when will this be over, I’m dying…” but then when it finally ended we thought “wow, that was quick!” Amanda started off the class blasting our core (we love and hate that feeling at the same time), then moved onto our legs and stayed focused on our legs and then still focused on our legs and then STILL focused on our legs…okay, you get it – we felt the burn in our legs and glutes too! We then moved onto a short yet impossible arm series and finished it off with our side obliques (our favorite part because um hi love handles go away please). Amanda kept the transitions from one move to another so quickly because she would make sure each of us had the equipment in the perfect spot and during each move would tell us what the next move was going to be – so our heads were thinking “what’s next” as our bodies continued pulsing and shaking. She proved to us you’re mind and body are DEFINITELY on two separate pages! In hindsight, she kind of tricked us into staying in these moves longer than our bodies wanted to – sneaky, sneaky! Needless to say, we left shaking and sore the next two days – feeling all the feelings for why we love btone 🙂
We know when we go to BTone we’re going to feel the burn, and Savannah definitely cranked up the heat. We loved her playlist from the start–she’s either a musical genius in the making or who someone knows how to work Spotify or Pandora like a boss. Savannah did a good job of giving us clear instructions and following a solid routine of arms and core followed by legs. Getting arms out of the way first was a nice change, as typically instructors will neglect the arms or leave them as an afterthought for the end. On the downside, there were a few exercises where Savannah forgot to repeat on both sides. Our right inner thighs and left triceps felt neglected after their counterparts were slayed but they got zilch. Suffice it to say everyone want their left and right sides to look equally sexy and toned! But where Savanah lacked, she got extra points when things got uncomfortable and we wanted to give up. Just when we needed to push for 10 more seconds, she’d catch our attention and say “you can do it,” and “you got this.” It was just what was needed to finish strong. In the end, we left shaking and sore for the next few days, so you know that means we’ll be back.
No BS here! Kathleen was all business. She had a stern, clear voice with an air about her that said, “Listen up, b*tches, and follow along.” While we are all about that, it did make us a bit nervous to ask questions. Her intensity could be translated as seeming a bit on edge, a bit annoyed and a bit on auto-pilot. We had a funny feeling she was on her third or fourth class in a row. Now, we’re not asking that our instructor to be smiling and making jokes the entire time, but sometimes you need to craft a good balance between command and approachability. But regardless, Kathleen gave us just what we came for: a good, solid Pilates burn.
Sometimes we’re shocked by the difference an instructor makes. Emily was smiley and bubbly and as nice as can be. However, we felt like her class was all over the place. She was unclear in her directions, so much so that everyone was constantly looking around lost. We could see others trying to follow someone else’s movements, only to discover that person was also doing it wrong. And it was an issue that kept occurring all through class–for us included. By the time anyone understood, we were on to the next movement. It made for a lot of confusion and frustration. There was also no personalized attention, and with a small class, we like a little love to motivate us or allow for improvement. While Emily did try hard to add jokes and sarcastic comments, they were lost on a class who was too lost on what to do.
Brooke taught us a solid class, textbook btone. She followed a clear outline and class structure, timing each movement perfectly and keeping everyone on track. Brooke demonstrated each movement on the Megaformer which made it super easy to follow along. She spoke slowly, clearly and in an upbeat tone all while keeping the class together, which was nice to feel like we were truly part of a group. She focused primarily on glute, thigh and inner thigh with a lot less emphasis on core and arms. In all fairness, Brooke prefaced the class by letting us know the specific areas we were going to focus on. We appreciate her transparency but we still wanted more core work. We still need to be prepared to flaunt our abs when we go out on a Saturday night. That being said, we did feel the burn, and that’s exactly what we came for.
Demi is young, bubbly, and has a personality that lights up the room. She smiled throughout the entire class all while instructing us through the workout with a clear tone of voice. She paid attention to the everyone in the class as she walked up and down the room correcting people’s form. There were a few newbies (sorry to call you out guys) but she gave equal attention to them and the regulars. Demi had a full body goal for the class, meaning we felt the burned all over. First, we worked our legs, thighs, inner thighs, then moved on to our abs and finally to our arms and back. At the end we blasted through burpees on the Megaformer just to make sure we had that full body burn pumping and sweat dripping as we walked out the door.
Ashley has her shit locked up. We loved every minute of the 45 minute class as she systematically and authoritatively took us through every body part. Her class reminded us why we LOVE btone. We started with our core (which we always love to burn out – six pack on fleek before the holidays – YA HURD). Then we moved to our legs, hamstrings and finally a bit of arm work. When we say a bit of arm work – we mean we didn’t do too much heavy lifting for our arms – definitely skimped on this part but with only 45 minutes we were happy to allot more time to our core (like we said – six pack for holiday time – HELLO)! Ashley had a bomb playlist and she herself had a perfectly toned body so we figured she knew what she was doing. She was great at correcting people as she explained where each movement should come from. For example, when dipping into our lunges she explained the bend should come from the right leg while the left leg glided (or pushed very hard, but glided sounds more elegant) against the weighted Megaformer. Our instinct is to bend the left leg to pull the machine up and down – but nope, she explained the mistake we were making, we fixed it and felt the burn. We let shaking, hungry and thirsty. Thanks Ashley!
Margaret Jackson taught a textbook btone class – and we are NOT complaining (as our triceps and abs are still burning two days later). She taught a very efficient pilates class which consisted of 45 minutes of systematically working every muscle group until it burned. Margaret started with core (which we love), took us through arms, then back and finally ended with burning out our glutes and thighs. She did not spend too much time on any one body part and kept the pace of the class moving. She had a clear, strong voice, demonstrated each movement; she was in total control of the class. Margaret didn’t spend time making jokes, or telling dumb stories about her Saturday night, she was there to give us the burn we paid for. We must say, we didn’t fall in love with her playlist – but since the music wasn’t turned up too loud, it didn’t make much of a difference. We walked out of class feeling as though we got a solid full body workout. Anyone who digs efficiency and a class that is a guaranteed solid burn should find Margaret on the schedule.
We felt well taken care of – like little babies in a stroller all tucked in. Okay, maybe not the BEST analogy but you get the point. Genevieve held our hand from start to finish throughout our class. From the moment we began she explained how the class would go down, which areas we would hit and when. After each move she would let us know what was coming up next, and she event demoed each move on the empty Megaformer. She was extremely motivating as we pulsed through each movement. There was a lot of emphasis on our lower half (butts and thighs) and in our personal opinion maybe not enough on arms and core. But we will have to give it to Genevieve, we weren’t able to walk down the stairs after class which to us is a sign that we worked something that maybe needed some working.
The most perky of them all! We love her – she’s so cheerful and smiley we felt like we already accomplished the class before we even started. She may be small but don’t put it past her to push your limits. She will make you feel the burn in the most chipper voice all the while making you smile as you half hate her for how sore you are feeling. Dana gave us a full body workout – we figured she would as she is very well toned herself. She appears to look as a “b-toner” would – perfectly toned and lean. Our one complaint is that we wished she had given more demonstrations herself so that we could be sure we were feeling the moves in the right spot.
Rachel appeared tall, lean and toned – so she had our expectations high from the moment we walked in and saw her. We enjoyed the overall class, we were still sore the following day – but we didn’t break a sweat (which we love to do). We think this is because Rachel didn’t push us to add on extra strength or offer modifications to make the moves harder. Also, there were extra reformers – so we wish Rachel had taken a reformer herself and showed us each move as some of her moves were different from the typical routine of other teachers. She brought her own flare with moves that were intended to work more than one part of your body, and to make sure we were doing these moves we really wish she gave us more individualized attention. On a more positive note, we loved her music, she was extremely motivating and transitioned smoothly from move to move.
We never thought that rowing seemed all that tough, or even worth calling a workout, but that was before we strapped our feet into the Indo-Row at btone. Oh man were we wrong. Rowing is all about form, and once you understand where your strength should be coming from, a Circuit Row class is one heck of a sweat sesh. Timed sprints on the erg are broken up by strength exercises off the machine, and class goes by in a flash. Before you know it you’ll be racing the other side of the room in the last minutes of class.
Class begins with a warm up focusing on form and getting a feel for your speed by varying the strokes per minute. Margaret will work in some lower and upper body isolations, which help you to understand how to push through your heels and engage your core (two super important parts of the stroke). The last piece of the warmup was a set of planks off of the erg, and then we were right back on to kick things up a notch. We went in with a 500 meter row, followed by 400, 300, 200 and 100. Before each sprint Margaret will tell you your goal time and split (rower-speak for pace) giving you something to push for each time. A little arm work on the machine was used as our active recovery, and then we went at it again starting with 100 meters and working up to 500 meters with a goal to crush our previous time! Margaret joined us for sprint races in the last couple minutes of class, one side of the room vs. the other… Things got sweaty for sure.
Whether you’re a seasoned rower, or a complete newby, Margaret will make sure you’re getting a hell of a workout. She’s super smiley and encouraging throughout class and you just can’t help but smile back at her (even when you’re blinking sweat from your eyes). She jumps around the room checking on our splits and giving tips on form during every sprint. When she’s not coaching us on reaching further forward on the in, and pressing through our heels to mimic a jump squat on the way out, she’s on her own erg in the center of the room showing us how it’s done. In all honesty, we really didn’t think that we would be into rowing, but thanks to Margaret it’s now a part of our weekly rotation!
With only two people in attendance there were two ways this class could go 1. we receive an almost private pilates lesson (people pay good money for this)! or 2. Laura slacks off (no demos, chit chats with us, etc.). We are happy to report (and our still quivering abs are too) that Laura chose option 1. Laura was on us like white on rice! You know those pulses at the end of the squats after you’ve burned out your left and right glutes/hamstrings and you kind of just, well, cop it – forget that! Laura held us so accountable that we often had to stop the exercise altogether and regroup before pulsing onward. Her attentiveness and “I know what I’m doing here” attitude made us feel like pros when she threw us a compliment. Given how knowledgeable Laura was, we think that even in a fully packed class she would still be attentive to all participants, but not sure if her energy/voice is loud enough to really get a full class pumped up. Laura demoed almost every move for us, and it’s a good thing because she threw in a lot of exercises that we had never done before at Btone. Btone can get a bit repetitive so we really appreciated her incorporating some fresh moves!