photo courtesy of Pilates Lab
Kristen Davis, right, recalls that when she moved to St. Louis from Chicago in 2012, she and her boyfriend, now her husband, were standing outside Bissinger’s on Maryland Plaza when she wondered why there wasn’t a Pilates studio in the Central West End. Kristen had taught Pilates for about 6 years and recognized that the CWE she said, “embodies the best of what St. Louis has to offer, and Pilates seemed like an obvious fit for the neighborhood.”
She and Susan Bange, left, met teaching at the Clayton Pilates Studio. Kristen also taught for a time at Central Studio on Pershing in the Skinker/DeBaliviere neighborhood. Between them they have 28 years of collective experience teaching Pilates, and when they decided to become business partners in 2019, they started to search for a CWE location for what is now called Pilates Lab.
When the retail space on the ground floor in the One Hundred Above the Park became available, it seemed like a dream come true. The location at the corner of West Pine and Kingshighway has views of Forest Park and the visibility from Kingshighway couldn’t be better. Opening a business at the beginning of the pandemic felt, in Kristen’s words, “audacious and thrilling, and also like the most natural fit in the world.”
The space was raw when the partners took possession, so they were able to build it out exactly as they envisioned. Pilates Lab features light floors, monochromatic walls, and floor-to-ceiling windows. They found furnishings and art at St. Louis-based Forsyth Art, and included pieces by Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen in a nod to St. Louis’ design history.
Pilates Lab features a suite of Gratz Pilates equipment.
Pilates Lab attracts clients of all ages (current students range from teenagers to a 91-year-old CWEnder), abilities and fitness levels, from beginners to elite athletes.
“Many people mistakenly think of Pilates as a stretching routine or imagine they have to be more flexible before they try it,” Kristen, shown teaching above, explained. “Pilates is strength training with heavy springs instead of weights. It was originally designed by a man for men, although many women practice and teach the method today.”
Some people ask whether you have to be a certain size or weight to practice Pilates. In reality, Kristen said, the instructors and clientele represent all sorts of body types, and everyone should feel welcome at Pilates Lab.
You’ll find an “all-star team” of instructors, including Shannon West, above, who is one of three instructors who has extensive dance and choreography experience. “One bright spot in the year of COVID-19 is that we had time to be intentional about our hires and bring along talented people.”
All instructors have a minimum of 500-hours of nationally recognized certification, one instructor is also a nurse anesthetist, and three are former or current educators.
“We’re committed to meeting people where they are in their health and fitness journeys.”
It’s recommended that new clients take a few private lessons to get to know the instructors and learn how the equipment works before joining a group class. Currently, three private lessons cost $195. More information about classes and pricing can be found on the website, which by the way is as beautiful as the space.
Pilates Lab, 4981 West Pine Blvd at Kingshighway, on the ground floor of One Hundred Above the Park.