Thursday, January 28, 2021

A visit to Good Time Pilates

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Being somewhat new to fitness, I’d only taken a mat Pilates class before but had always been curious about the reformer-machine–based classes.

So I was equal parts excited and nervous when I arrived at the newly created Good Time Pilates on lower Avenue C to meet owner Sam Miles (above right) and teacher Meg Broome (above left). 

The studio is housed in Meg’s apartment and the sunny back room is all set up with the reformer machine, blocks, mats, a “squishy ball” and a sweet soundtrack. I am greeted by kitties Ringo and Mushu, who delicately approve of my presence before Sam initiates the now-standard COVID-19 protocols: Temperature check, hand sanitizer, masks, open windows, and an air filter machine humming softly. 

I confess my beginner status as I look at the carriage and rack assembly of the machine, but Meg and Sam put me at ease discussing the mechanics of the practice.
“Movement can change how you feel on a daily basis, and Pilates can change your body’s relationship with gravity,” Meg tells me as she leaves Sam and I to begin our session. 

After I have a basic understanding of the class, we talk about Pilates, opening and operating a fitness studio during a pandemic, and what drew them to the East Village, where they both live and work.

Can you speak a bit about Good Time Pilates’ history? How did you two meet, and what prompted you to open a fitness studio? What made you pick the East Village as your and its home?

SamGood Time Pilates was born at the beginning of the pandemic. Putting a pause on life, being locked inside, and the uncertainty about the future made me need to move my body. 

I started teaching virtual classes pretty quickly. I would just post, “anyone want to move tonight at 6?” on my Instagram and I got tons of people who felt that same need. Good Time Pilates really blossomed from there. The name says it all, we want people to have a good time while they move. 
MegGood Time Pilates is Sam’s brilliant brainchild. I craved a teammate, structure and inspiration, so I reached out to Sam. Since then, each day I have been on my mat has been a little brighter. Community, even virtual, shifts the experience in class drastically. Joining the Good Time Pilates team has been the highlight of my pandemic. 
Sam[We met when] I was working as a bartender, getting my certification during the day, and working the front desk at a Pilates studio to get free classes. Meg got hired as an instructor at that same studio and five years later, here we are. 

We have spent endless hours building our first small studio and daydreaming about the possibilities of the future. Good Time Pilates has decided to take the pressure off this year. The goal is to embrace, accept, and learn about our bodies exactly as they are right now. 

We want to modify our relationship to movement and exercise away from punishment and toward nourishment. We are creating a space that gives the power of physical knowledge a chance to shine past some of the darkness currently clouding our lives. 
MegFive years ago, right around this time of year, I was hired at the same Pilates studio as Sam in downtown Manhattan. She was in the middle of her certification and I had just moved to New York from San Francisco. Our passion for Pilates is just one of many things that helps us vibe well together. 
SamI lost my job immediately when quarantine started. My lease was up shortly after lockdown started, so I moved upstate to Kingston with my pup Birdie. 

Prior to that, for the last seven years I had bounced around the boroughs. As Good Time grew, picking its forever home wasn’t easy. I am a California girl and I felt my roots calling me home. 

However, the community and support I have here made it obvious that this is where I want to share my passions. I just signed my first solo lease for an apartment in the neighborhood that will also house Good Time’s administrative office. 
MegI have lived in the East Village for the last four years, but have been deeply intrigued by it as a neighborhood since my early teens. Tall buildings sometimes make me anxious, so this part of Manhattan has always made me feel held and inspired. I got my first tattoo at 16, on St. Mark’s. I met the love of my life over the pool table at Parkside Lounge. I have danced many, many nights away at The Pyramid Club. The locals are what make this neighborhood buzz. 
Is Pilates accessible to every person’s body? What would you say to beginners who haven’t had much if any experience with the practice or find the machines intimidating? [Ed. Note: Meg & Sam jointly answered the following questions.]

Yes, that's the real beauty of Pilates. It is designed for anyone with a body. Pilates focuses on building strength, developing coordination and balance, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall body alignment and posture. 

What makes Pilates unique is its ability to adapt to accommodate any level. Whether you’re an athlete, someone who has never worked out, or even someone with an injury, Pilates is for you. One thing that can make Pilates inaccessible is the price. 

Since the creation of Good Time, we have been dedicated to trying to fix that one step at a time. We offer classes at a variety of prices. Students have the opportunity to add a donation onto the price of class that goes directly into our scholarship fund. We offer all of our services at a reduced rate with the help of our students’ donations. The second thing that can make Pilates feel inaccessible is the way it is marketed. 

We sometimes talk about Pilates feeling intimidating because its name doesn’t describe what is going to happen in the class. Spin, we get it. Boxing, we get it. Even yoga, there’s a broader general knowledge about.

If we renamed Pilates, “strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility” or something sassier like “a class to help with aging” I think some of the nerves would fall away. 

As far as the machines go...yes, it does look like some crazy BDSM contraption. Yes, some things you experience will feel like torture. However, we find that after a single session people are more fascinated with the way they feel than how scary the machines may look.
What has the experience of working with and training people during the pandemic been like? What precautions do you observe when working in the studio?

It’s been tough but endlessly rewarding. Everyone lost their sense of routine and was all of the sudden working out in their homes. We started virtually to keep everyone safe and moving. We teach every class from our homes. Kittens and pups make appearances on the daily and our virtual community of furry friends grows weekly with all the new adoptions. The toughest part has been not being able to hug our students after class. 

The small private studio we opened in September has been our safe space to be able to see bodies in person again. Our space is up to every safety standard as well. We have the windows open at all times, we have a room air filter that is on at all times, both instructor and student wear a mask at all times, etc. We sanitize everything and leave thirty minutes between students. 
Can you speak about what teaching online classes has been like?  What online platform(s) do you use, and how do you offer suggestions, corrections and adjustments when working with people remotely?

Teaching online has been an adjustment to say the least. Zoom and technology challenges are still giving us a run for our money. Pilates is usually a very tactile practice. Instructors use hands-on corrections to help heighten proprioception in the students. Touch usually helps the brain-to-muscle connection fire.

Clearly, the screens make that difficult. We try each day to deepen our cues to help students get the same experience through the screen. Teaching students to become more familiar with touching their own bodies. As well as sending and posting tips and tricks often for trying to help with the at-home experience. 
People’s work/life balances have gone completely out the door. The other challenge has been creating a schedule that feels like it accommodates everyone. On top of our daily live classes through Zoom, we have one Instagram live class a week that is donation based, totally free to join, on-demand videos for rent on Vimeo, as well as a few completely free classes up on YouTube to get a feel for what we do! 
What’s next for Good Time Pilates? 

The plan is to keep chugging one day at a time, feeling our roots grow in the neighborhood: Introducing ourselves to the intramural sports teams that play at East River Park, reaching out to local bars and restaurants to build a band of badass service-industry humans, connecting with local youth and community organizations to get a sense of what accessible movement opportunities already exists and how we can help contribute to them. 

As we feel the world is headed closer to some normalcy, we hope to open a larger space. We dream of a movement clubhouse. A place where all bodies are celebrated and your neighbors go with you to class. 

The East Village is home to so much history and the communities that helped build this neighborhood deserve accessible movement education.

You can keep up with Good Time Pilates here.

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