Evolve Pilates, for the long, lean muscles men crave

Pilates mats await students in Evolve studio. — Photo courtesy of Laura Alexander

It is 5:30 in the evening, and a group of middle-aged men have changed out of their work clothes and met for a workout in Edgartown. As common as this gathering appears, their session will be anything but the type of workout one might expect.

There are no dumbbells, no blaring music. There are Pilates mats. The men have come to Evolve Pilates on Upper Main Street where instructor Laura Alexander takes them through the exercises that will improve their flexibility, posture, strength, and their outlook on life.

Evolve’s high ceilings and wood paneling add a soothing atmosphere. The summer traffic moving outside past the busy Stop and Shop visible on the other side of a pane of glass seems miles away.

Ms. Alexander moves from client to client, making occasional corrections here and there. The room echoes with her directions and the men’s intermittent breathing.

One man interrupts the rhythm. “How am I supposed to be breathing again?” he asks, lifting his head from one of many poses on the mat. The room echoes with deep chuckles. Ms. Alexander giggles in response as she walks over to assist the man.

This is Evolve Pilates, a place for those of all skill levels and ages.

Pilates is a fitness method that coordinates proper breathing techniques with movement to promote not only long and lean muscles, but also increased focus and concentration.

Evolve Pilates has been up and running in Edgartown for just a month now. Ms. Alexander said the idea rested in her heart and mind for years. The studio encapsulates her vision of fun and purpose.

Seven years ago, Ms. Alexander began doing Pilates twice a week in Vineyard Haven. She fell in love with the method early on for the sense of invigoration she felt leaving the studio. After sticking with the exercise for a few short weeks she began to notice drastic improvements to her physical well-being.

Her epiphany came while switching sopping wet laundry from washer to dryer, and she realized she was using her abdominal muscles instead of straining her lower back. Pilates had not only given her strength and flexibility, but also increased awareness of her own body and how it works.

Seeing how beneficial Pilates had been in such a short time, Ms. Alexander became, to put it simply, obsessed. First, she was certified to teach her own classes. Next came the founding of her own space, Evolve, which opened this past June in Edgartown.

“I wanted everyone to feel the way I felt,” she says of her reason for opening a studio. “I believe in it, and I have a passion for it.”

Ms. Alexander said that Evolve fulfills what had previously been an unmet need for a Pilates studio in Edgartown. “On any given day, you can find at least 25 yoga classes on the Island,” she said. “But Pilates classes are less readily available here, particularly on summer days when beach traffic makes getting to the few studios that offer them difficult.”

Ms. Alexander uses the classical method of Pilates as developed by Joseph Pilates in the 20th century, and she has added certain touches to make Evolve her own. One is the men’s mat class she has been offering this summer. The class helps achieve Ms. Alexander’s central goal of making Pilates accessible to everyone.

Another is her teaching style, which she describes as “interesting and informative at the same time.” Ms. Alexander stresses the small changes and modifications to poses that help her clients engage their entire bodies.

Open year-round, Evolve offers a variety of 50-minute sessions. Group mat classes are scheduled six times a week, both in the morning and evening, and walk-ins are welcome. Private and semi-private sessions can be scheduled by appointment. Sessions using reformers, pieces of equipment that use pulleys and springs to create resistance, are also offered by appointment.

Evolve Pilates is located at 250 Upper Main Street in Edgartown, just across from the Stop and Shop. For more information, call 508-627-6060 or pillates11@verizon.net