Crash Course: Potomac Pilates consists of three boutique studio locations offering pilates reformer and barre classes. Some of their more unique selections include pilates circuit training and something called “barre with gliding,” which seems to be a torturous combination of barre method and a slide board workout. Their pilates reformer class is a muscle-burning 55-minute session focusing on core strength and full-body toning. Aside from the newest Potomac Pilates studio in Friendship Heights, you can find them in the Palisades neighborhood and in Potomac Maryland. Click here for a full schedule of classes offered at leach location.
where: 5406 Wisconsin Ave, Chevy Chase
perks: small class size
sweat score: 4 out of 10
wear: comfortable clothes for full range of movement
Pilates is a mystery to me. Probably because I just haven’t learned my lesson yet. I always go into the class with the smug impression that because there isn’t a lot of cardio or heavy lifting involved, it will be a light workout. And sometimes it is. But eight-and-a-half times out of ten, there’s that moment 15 minutes into class when I realize there’s nothing light about that burning sensation in my shoulders. Such little movements. Such crazy soreness. When will I learn.
I have heard rave reviews about Potomac Pilates from a few friends, so I was excited to try out one of their classes at the newest location in Friendship Heights. That is, if I could find it. Full disclosure: the place is crazy hard to locate, despite their best attempts to put signage all over the place. I spent a solid 10 minutes wandering frantically around the Shops at Wisconsin Place development trying to find the studio entrance. Here’s the secret. If you are looking at Bloomingdales (see photo above), walk toward the courtyard until you see an alley on your right. There are a few shops tucked in there, and Potomac Pilates is almost at the very end on your right.
As you can see, the sign is crazy small and finding the place is not entirely intuitive.If you decide to check it out, hopefully these directions help a little bit. It’s in an awesomely convenient spot for folks working in the Friendship Heights area.
And when you finish, there are multiple restaurants, wine bars, shops, and a Whole Foods just a few small steps away. I’m all about getting errands done in as few stops as possible, so if you can sweat, shop, sip wine, and buy your groceries in the same block, I consider that a win.
The class itself was done entirely on the reformer machine with no extra props or gadgets. We worked on all the major muscle groups, with a special torturous grand finale focusing on the glutes and hamstrings. Hands down the hardest part of the class, for sure.
I really enjoyed Catherine’s instructional style. She was loud enough to hear (although a microphone would have really given some extra oomph), encouraging, gave great cues, and kept the pace of the class going at a good clip.
As a level one class, there wasn’t anything extra crazy going on and I felt like beginners would be able to follow along without too much confusion. But if you’re a pilates pro and are looking for a class with a bit more spice, I’d recommend checking out level two, which promises “new exercises” and “increased repetitions to keep the workout challenging and fresh.”
The studio itself is furnished to look and feel like an industrial style loft. The decor very sparse, the lights are bright, and there’s nothing that screams warm and fuzzy. You’re here to work and sweat, after all, so don’t get too comfortable!
Also, as with most small boutique studios in town, there are no designated changing or locker rooms. If you’re coming from work, scoot behind the reformer machines all the way to the back of the studio and change in one of the bathrooms. It’s a little awkward if there’s a class going on, but it’s more awkward doing tricep extensions in a pencil skirt and cardigan. Just sayin.
I’d definitely like to come back and crash their barre/cardio glide board class. Can’t say I’ve seen a similar class offered anywhere else. For someone as uncoordinated as me, it seems like a slippery recipe for disaster, but I’m willing to give it a try. If I do, you’ll be the first to know!