6 In Feature/ Fitness

Reform your fitness routine: Our experience taking a Pilates Reformer class

Thank you to MNT Studio for the complimentary class. However, the review and opinions are our own. 

Are these the type of images that come to mind when you think of Pilates? This low-impact method of exercise was created by Joseph Pilates in the 1920’s and emphasizes correct posture alignment, muscle balance, flexibility and core strength. A common form of Pilates uses a ballet barre as part of the exercise routine to sculpt lean muscles and enhance posture similar to a ballet dancer’s body type. We’ve taken barre classes before, but never a reformer class. I mean, this contraption does look a little intimidating….

This method of Pilates uses a reformer machine (an original creation of Joseph Pilates himself!) that consists of a carriage base with a series of springs and straps that serve to provide very targeted resistance to various muscle groups. Throughout the reformer exercise, you are really engaging your core which provides an excellent overall body workout. While the reformer machine looks like an apparatus reserved for only the seasoned Pilates pros, we were lucky enough to be introduced to MNT Studio:

MNT stands for “Move, Nourish, Transform” and prides itself on being more than an exercise studio but more of  ‘a community where you can use exercise and meaningful connections, to improve your life and transform into a happier, healthier, more vibrant YOU.’

The studio itself is bright, clean and welcoming. Also welcoming is the MNT staff and their highly trained instructors. Our first time class jitters were immediately erased the moment we entered the studio.

We were warmly greeted by the front desk staff and shown around the beautiful lobby.

We perused the lovely workout wear, accessories and healthy snacks for sale, then grabbed our complimentary socks and towels.

Next, we entered the class which had only 8 reformers for a highly individualized class experience. Our amazing instructor, Gabby, asked if we had any injuries that would require modifications and really guided us through the workout in an encouraging way.

The class was 50 minutes long, but it seemed to fly by. Everyone in the class was so sweet to us newcomers and made us feel like we belonged (despite not having a clue what we were doing!)

Gabby kept the class moving quickly from one exercise to the next, while able to expertly identify slight changes in our form to allow for a safe and effective workout.

Yay, we survived!

We loved that since it was low-impact, we weren’t dripping in sweat and yet we have NEVER BEEN SO SORE in the day(s) to follow! We worked muscles we didn’t know we had. The targeted precision of the reformer can not be beat. We were huge fans of the class and loved how relaxed we felt immediately after due to all the stretching that is built into the routine.

All done, ready for brunch!

So, who do we have to thank for this wonderful studio and exercise experience? None other than MNT founder and CEO, Elaine Hayes:


Elaine is a mother, wellness-lover, and owner of MNTSTUDIO in San Francisco. Driven by her desire to help people and her personal passion for wellness, she started her business with a single reformer machine in the spare bedroom of her apartment. From there, MNT has continued to grow- the studio now occupies over 6,000 square feet in SoMa, and has become a go-to destination for Pilates, barre, and holistic wellness for the Bay Area fitness community. Elaine has personally crafted the MNT Pilates and barre approach to combine classical principles of alignment and precision with more contemporary techniques. As a result, classes are challenging yet accessible for all fitness levels. Through MNT, she strives to empower each and every individual to transform their lives for the better through movement, self-care, and community.


What is your professional background and how did you come up with the concept for MNT?

Before I started MNT, I was on a pretty different tract. I went to Cal (Go Bears!), then worked in finance for a brief time, before going to law school. It was after my first year in law school, that I started to realize that what I was working towards and doing on a daily basis was not in alignment with my authentic self. This was a scary thing to realize, and quite honestly sent me into a bit of a crisis!

Throughout this time, I had been practicing Pilates for years, and it was seriously the highlight of my week. I always felt so fully present, connected with my body, and overall just HAPPY after a Pilates class. So in 2010, I took a leave of absence from law school and enrolled in a Pilates teacher training program. Lots of people told me I was crazy. That I was on track to be a successful lawyer, work at a prestigious law firm, have an important job, and make lots of money, so why change that? But all those reasons not to take the leap paled in comparison to what my heart was telling me. And that was that I NEEDED to make a change. So I did.

I quickly realized I had make the right decision. I finished my Pilates training and started teaching at various studios around San Francisco, and very quickly developed a strong following. Soon thereafter, I took what little money I had (let’s be honest, all I had was a credit card!), and bought myself a Reformer and put it in the spare room of my apartment I shared with my then-boyfriend (now hubby-hi, Mike!). Within six months, I was seeing clients from 7am to 9pm six days a week. I started having to turn away new clients for lack of space in my schedule. That was when I started to dream up MNTSTUDIO.

How does MNT differ from other pilates classes?

At MNT, we pride ourselves in offering a space that is both aesthetically pleasing AND inclusive. We believe that any body can do Pilates, and that every body should. Our classes, while adhering to the classical tenets of Pilates (fluid movement, precision, alignment, and breath), are accessible, challenging, and fun, allowing for a more inclusive and accessible experience. The result is an effective and sustainable program that leaves you feeling your most badass self.

Can you describe the classes offered at MNT?

One of the things that our members love about MNT is that you can get all your wellness needs met in one place without having to studio hop. Here are the classes we offer:

Power Reformer: Utilizing top of the line Balanced Body equipment, MNT’s athletic approach to Pilates on the Reformer allows for newbies and seasoned Pilates practitioners alike to experience a workout like never before. In just 50 minutes, you will strengthen, lengthen, and tone every inch of your body. Reformer classes are limited to 8 participants, so you get lots of attention and form correction from the instructor. Come prepared to work hard and feel accomplished!

Reformer Bootcamp: Our Reformer Bootcamp classes take the principles of Pilates and combine them with the proven methods of bootcamp style classes. Set to upbeat and motivating music, the fast-paced class incorporates props, cardio intervals, and the jumpboard to keep your heart rate up, raise your metabolic rate, and make you sweat, while continuously challenging and toning your core and other major muscle groups. Reformer classes are limited to 8 participants, so you get lots of attention and form correction frm the instructor.

Restorative Reformer: Combines the principles of Pilates and the MNT athletic approach with corrective techniques to bring your body and mind into balance. The class is designed to develop flexibility and core strength through flow and healthy movement patterns. Awaken every muscle in your body during the 50 minute class and leave feeling refreshed, lengthened and strengthened. This class is designed for all levels, so newbies and pros alike are welcomed.

Power Pilates Mat: MNT’s approach to Mat Pilates is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Our athletic approach to Pilates gets right to the point so you can begin to feel the benefits and effects of Pilates immediately. Designed to help you connect to your deep core muscles, MNT’s Mat Pilates class will reawaken every muscle in your body leaving you feeling long, lean and totally badass. This class is designed for all levels, so newbies and pros alike are welcomed.

Pilates Bootcamp: This bootcamp-style class takes Pilates to a whole new level. Set to upbeat and motivating music, MNT Pilates Bootcamp incorporates props, cardio intervals, and proven fitness techniques to keep your heart rate up, raise your metabolic rate, and make you sweat. Classes are mixed level yet vigorous. Bring a water bottle and be prepared to feel the burn!

Barre: An energetic, fun workout that fuses fitness techniques from dance, Pilates, and yoga that will tone, define, and chisel the whole body. Unlike other barre classes you may have tried in the past, MNTBarre will make you sweat. We combine precise toning moves with cardio blasts that get your heart thumping and those endorphins going, all while playing the best tunes.

What are the benefits of being a member of MNT?

MNT offers more than an effective and safe way to get into amazing shape. We are a beacon in the San Francisco wellness community, offering multiple wellness events throughout the year, often bringing in female-owned companies and thought leaders to educate and empower our community. In addition, we offer in-house nutrition counseling with some of the top holistic health coaches in the Bay Area, allowing for a 360 degree approach to wellness. Most recently, we’ve expanded our retail-MNTSTUDIO The Shop– to include a plethora of mission-driven, beautiful brands for a curated, one of a kind experience.

What is your personal philosophy and that of MNT?

MNTSTUDIO is more than just a place to exercise. It’s a community that will inspire you on your journey to live your best life. Everyone’s needs are unique, but we believe that exercise, personalized nutrition coaching, and meaningful connections with like-minded individuals are key to living your happiest, healthiest life. Our community events present a unique opportunity to connect with instructors and fellow students outside of classes, and aim to engage your personal connection to your body and mind.

The target audience of our blog is moms. Can you point out benefits of Pilates/MNT to our specific readership?

I practiced Pilates and MNTbarre at MNT throughout my pregnancy, and truly believe that that’s what prepared me to be able to have my nearly nine pound baby without needing a C-section. In addition, I was able to recover quite quickly and avoid diastasis recti due to my core strength and body awareness achieved through a steady Pilates and MNTbarre practice. Once I was ready to resume taking classes post-baby, having childcare available to me at MNT (check out about our childcare here!) was a life-saver and helped me get out of the house during those early days when you can start to feel housebound with a new baby.

Thanks again, Elaine, for generously sharing your studio, time and expertise for our very first blog post on fitness. You are truly an inspiration to not only work towards fitness goals, but life goals as well. Go check out MNT.  Also, be sure to follow along on our instagram for an upcoming contest to win your very own MNT reformer class!

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  • Reply
    November 23, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    How fun! Need to check this place out!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Gorgeous studio. I need to try a reformer class!

  • Reply
    November 23, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try this! Glad it’s not as scary as it looks LOL

  • Reply
    November 24, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    Love barre pilates, but haven’t tried the reformer yet. Need to!

  • Reply
    November 30, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    That’s so cool you got to try it! I’ve been wanting too!

  • Reply
    Hal Gruger
    January 10, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    I agree with your details , fantastic post.

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