If yoga isn't your thing and you've tired of pure Pilates, then Garuda could be for you. This dynamic form of core strengthening and robust cardiovascular exercise is a new way of getting the sleeker, fitter body you want.
I turned to it after a running-induced shin injury forced me to take six weeks off from pounding the London pavements. Three one-to-one sessions with a teacher on the specially designed Garuda reformer machine improved my muscle tone, flexibility and – most important of all – my core strength. In fact, I fell in love with the energetic but graceful way in which the machine gently forced me to exercise, testing my mental and physical abilities along the way. Using the machine, Marta Soteras, my instructor and a former dancer, worked with me on a series of movements designed to connect the muscles of my body through my core. This would enable me to run in a biometrically correct way – important, as my injury was caused by strain put on my calf by my glute muscles, which weren't working properly.
The Garuda workout is scientific and challenging, but fun too. It's so specific to the way you move, you can literally feel your body pulling together to work in a more effective way. I don't really have the patience for yoga because running is 'my thing', and I have always found Pilates a mental challenge. But I found Garuda playful and hard work at the same time – an ideal combination.
What you need: Very little – a comfortable yoga kit and a bit of determination.
Difficulty rating: 3/5. The resistence of the reformer machine makes this a more demanding form of Pilates – one that reaps greater rewards, too.
Location: The Garuda Studio, 26-28 Finchley Road, St. John's Wood, London NW8 6ES. There is metered street parking in Queens Grove and local side streets. There is also a car park nearby at Q-Park, Kingsmill Terrace, London NW8 6AA.
Booking: A single Garuda group mat-work class costs £25, private classes are £75 with an introductory offer of £50. For more offers, information and to book online, visit thegaruda.net, or call the studio on 0207 483 4644.