If you want to get serious about Pilates (i.e. you're ready to actually do the moves, rather than just lay there while the DVD runs in fast-forward), then Flow could be the place for you. Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, Flow's studio is split into two levels: private lessons upstairs and group lessons downstairs. But no matter which floor you go to, you're guaranteed an effective workout that caters to your body's personal needs.
Flow's private lessons revolve mostly around the large, torture-device-looking machines that cover the top floor. Intimidating at first sight, they're the safest and most supportive method to learn proper Pilates form. Downstairs in the group classes, you'll work with mats, balls and bands for an equally personalized workout. Flow keeps its classes to an average of eight people, so don't expect to blend into the background. This studio is all about communication: The instructor will know your name and won't be shy about correcting your body movements; and if you come often enough, they will know exactly what your body does and does not need before class even begins. All this personalized attention provides you with a focused, ab-crunching workout that will keep you sore for days...and get you serious results.
Classes: Flow offers a variety of classes for all levels. Aside from the standard Pilates mat classes, Flow offers yoga, dance conditioning and Piloga (which is exactly what it sounds like: Pilates and yoga in one). There's also Piloga on the Ball, an advanced-level Piloga workout. But before you jump on that ball, make sure you're ready. Flow recommends that new students take the introductory special (two private sessions and two mat classes for $150), so the instructors can screen you and determine what level you should be working at. No problem if you don't want to do that, they'll just send you to an open-level class. Flow offers all kinds of package rates for private and group sessions; you can also pay per mat class (single class: $16; 10 classes: $135; 30 classes: $380). One important note: since Flow likes to keep its classes small, be sure to call beforehand to reserve your place.
Extras: Flow has a massage room upstairs...but it's not for relaxing. Targeting your body's problem areas, the masseuse and instructors will work together to figure out exactly what your body needs. Flow's instructors also work with a local chiropractor.
Centerstage Reviewer: Ashley Hamilton