My first impression of Grace Belgravia, which I visited shortly after it opened four
Elissa is a former dancer and tennis player ( she competed in National Tennis Tournaments but had to stop due to reoccurring injuries ) who is passionate about fitness, sports, dance and pilates (which significantly helped during her injury rehabilitation). She also learnt lots of different things and techniques over the years, paying particular attention to nutrition and hormones. And this year she channelled her knowledge into opening Form Studios where she, together with her husband and instructors, will help you view fitness in a different light. Having worked out with Elissa I have to say that after just over an hour in her company, she reignited my passion for pilates, however what she teaches is much more than that.
Having spent a lot of time in LA in the past, Elissa became a certified Stott Pilates instructor, teaching both mat and reformer pilates, later adding Pure Bare certification to her CV. Now Elissa’s clients age ranges from 12 to 67 and she combines fitness, nutrition and hormonal health ( she has consulted endocrinologist, leading up to the creation of METcore ) as part of her teaching. Working our and getting enough sleep is essential for men and women in order to maintain health and beauty but how many of us actually go to bed before midnight or earlier? That’s one of the reasons why Elissa combines clever pilates technique on a special contraption MOTR ( more of which later ) with an intensive ( I am not joking, you will sweat and your muscles will quiver ) HIIT ( high intensity training) which in turn will benefit your growth hormone (HGH). We often underestimate rest but at times go overboard in our desire to be fit, that’s the reason why instead of the 15 minutes Elissa chooses to do HIIT for eight and the class itself lasts 50 minutes.
By combining pilates and yoga ( which focus on proper alignment, breathing and balance, while also awakening and engaging our core muscles ) & HIIT METabolic interval cardio conditioning ( Tabata and TRX, the most effective way to burn fat which also improves cardiovascular health and releases happiness inducing endorphins ) Elissa manages to make you get in touch and become aware of your muscle groups, whatever your initial shape is. She will talk to you about things like bone density, hair, suppleness of skin and healthy lifestyle all of which will help you be the best version of yourself naturally ( the workout was developed in such a way so to work alongside your hormone levels, not against them, as some workouts can lead to adrenal fatigue ).
FORM Studios is located in the heart of Notting Hill, next to the loveliest natural laundry Blanc Clean. You enter through a chic grey door and go into the hallway where you can hang your up clothes and bags. There is a small changing room with the toilet and shower, stocked up with complementary towels and Cowshed goodies. If you don’t like working out barefoot or feel a little frozen on the day, you can buy ToeSox to keep your feet warm and yourself safe in the non-slip mode in the studio. When you change into your workout gear, you enter a studio which is painted in a chic shade of grey ( just one, not fifty ) and is flooded with natural light coming through the frosted glass. There are plenty of mirrors for you to look at your form during the class ( I actually looked across at Elissa during the training, trying to copy her movements as precisely as I can, but she is a hands-on instructor and guides you firmly & encouragingly when you form needs correcting or you need the encouragement ). With a maximum of eight people per class you can be sure that you will get enough attention and the space won’t feel overcrowded.
During the class you will get to use an innovative piece of equipment called MOTR which is versatile and exclusive to FORM Studio. It was developed by a friend of Elissa and is aimed at challenging your core muscles with adequate intensity, so you get to see the results after a few sessions, thus having the incentive to continue improving your form and your abilities while toning your muscles, improving flexibility and balance. MOTR is a long firm tube with levers that will assist your exercising of arms, back, legs and core. You can stand, jump or lie on it and the variation of exercises is truly riveting. It is also quite nice on the eye, with the main body being grey but with a few bits in yellow that will keep you happily amused. Elissa challenged me with every exercise and made my head work as well, as you need to keep your focus, think about precision of movements while keeping your balance. It is hard work but is great fun as well, an ideal combination for an effective workout.
METcore is not just about training, it is about SMART training
The class itself is designed for the abilities of all levels but be warned that the last section of the training session is the hardest. Elissa decided on the four exercises for me, involving TRX ( suspension training – on that occasion I had to jump while using TRX for support ), SkiErg ( Nordic Skiing simulator – great fun is you love skiing or are getting ready to go on a skiing trip – it looks like a rowing machine but positioned not on the floor but on the wall ) and kettle bells. I love to be challenged but also know my limits so after completing three, I bowed out of the fourth – always something to strive for at the next session.
After the class is over, you can rehydrate and refuel with Botanical Lab Juices and get on with your day, knowing that due to the workout that you just completed your resting metabolic rate ( when let’s say you sit and work at your desk ) will remain elevated for longer periods. This smart workout also engages your brain and your body, as well as encourages it to produce powerful anti-ageing biochemicals that combat inflammation and oxidative stress. Now, two days later, my legs and butt are less achy and I seem to remember Elissa’s tip of rolling my shoulders down and keeping my chest open throughout the day. When you do that you feel taller, slimmer and you take in more oxygen through deeper breathing. Will I be back at the FORM Studio? You betcha and who knows, I might even meet you there.
P.s. After an intensive workout it is always good to take a hot bath with Epsom salts ( I prefer Himalayan Detox Salts because they have over 80 minerals and trace elements that help to relief lactic acid from the balance and re-balance your body ) and then massage your body with a potent body oil that will further relieve the aches, so you wake up in the morning less achy and more eager to continue to improve your fitness levels ( I like Bodhi & Birch Ginger Brew massage & body oil ).