Since 1999, BodyTonic has maintained a safe, unpretentious and energizing environment where people can feel empowered, challenge their bodies and enjoy the benefits of increased agility and strength. The following posts reflect our thoughts on Pilates, yoga, wellness, and community.


Mar 4, 2014
@ 4:26 pm

Bring on the Gratz: Chris Niles Reflects on BT’s New Toys

Those of you who’ve dropped by BodyTonic lately will notice that the landscape is a little different. We’ve re-branded with Gratz, the original equipment designed by Joseph Pilates. We’ve taken out the old mat springs wall units and replaced them with Towers, which have all the functionality of Cadillacs minus the cage. The old Peak Reformers are gone, replaced by skinnier, sleeker machines.  And as if that wasn’t an embarrassment of riches, the new Reformers also convert to Cadillacs. To quote The Lego Movie; “everything is awesome.”


“We’ve got a lot of new toys to play with,” Jennifer said at the start of her first Tower class a few days ago. Her choice of words made me think about how often I hear the word ‘play’ in Pilates.  And not just play, but ‘fun’ and ‘treat’ and ‘delicious’.  We’re a bit weird like that; at BodyTonic a treat is that yummy stretch after push through on the Tower. Or the blood-rushing thrill you feel after a backbend or handstand.  Chocolate? Meh. Give me ballet stretches on the High Barrel.

Joseph Pilates put a lot of experience into his life’s work; the experience of boxers, dancers, wounded war veterans, circus performers even. But his two inspirations were babies and animals. He painstakingly built his exercise system to mimic the fluidity of movement that comes from unthinking joy.

Take rolling like a ball. Again and again I’ve seen clients laugh when they do it for the first time. Why not? It’s fun. And where else in adult life do we get to behave that way?

I’ve worked out in one way or another for most of my life.  I grew up in New Zealand, where sport was a mandatory, daily activity from almost the first day at primary school. I hit balls around in various capacities. I swam and ice skated and ran long, long distances across muddy fields. I did it because I had to, and because my father thought that sports built character. I didn’t dislike it; I didn’t think much about it at all, and I was quite good at it. But as soon as I had the opportunity to stop, after high school was over, I took it.

Thus began my adult relationship with working out. It’s a squalid and sad tale, filled with high expectations, followed by the inevitable broken promises and  disappointments. Each new regime began (and ended) in exactly the same way.  I’m old enough to remember when Jane Fonda’s thoughts on exercise were considered life changing. Needless to say her thoughts did not change my life, mostly because I got bored with the workout almost as soon as I’d unwrapped the cassette.

Undaunted, I moved on. I tried Jazzercise and all its faddish stepchildren. (Embarrassment prevents me from naming them.) I joined countless gyms, spent thousands on fees and wore some truly regrettable Lycra outfits.  I injured myself time and time again because I had no knowledge of what my body could and couldn’t do, and was too often urged by inexperienced teachers to push past my limits.

I stepped outside for a bit, trying martial arts, tai chi, yoga, boxing; searching for that thing that was calling to me for a lifetime commitment. I didn’t find it. And every now and then I’d go back to a gym, stupidly hoping for a different outcome from the same behavior. No matter how much I tried, I didn’t achieve the results I wanted. And worse, it bored me to the marrow.

Joseph Pilates wisely and instinctively understood that children and animals aren’t bored.  Physical fitness is the first prerequisite of happiness, he said. And we were born to move. Why shouldn’t it be fun?

I’ve never been bored in Pilates, but the new equipment has opened up a whole new conversation between me and the machines. I’m reminded once more of what my body is and isn’t capable of.


The first thing you notice is that the springs push you around more. Exercises that were easy now require more oomph. It’s only been a few weeks, but I can’t get the carriage that last inch in for Reformer tendon stretch, yet it was snap on the Peak machine.  Swakkati has become laughably hard. Or was I crying? I can’t be sure.

On the other hand, reaching through to take off springs in stomach massage is inexplicably easier. And because the Gratz Reformer carriage is narrower, I’m able to put my foot down for Balance Control to Arabesque, which I couldn’t do on the old machines.

I’m doing all this exploration without judgment—a gift that I received from Jennifer and Candice who have kindly and patiently watched possibly the least qualified person embark on teacher training, and have always a valid explanation for why I can’t do even some of the most basic exercises.

Pilates is endless fascinating and increasingly subtle. In some ways the new machines feel like starting over, but I prefer to think of is as getting re-aquainted with an old friend, albeit one who wants you to step up your game. As Benjamin said recently, quoting Samuel Beckett. “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Where else could failing be so much fun?

 -Chris Niles, BodyTonic Apprentice


Feb 19, 2014
@ 1:58 pm

NEW Wednesday 7pm Class Begins TONIGHT

Beginning TONIGHT, BodyTonic is adding a NEW Wednesday 7pm Class to our schedule. Come on join Diana for a great workout on our new Tower equipment!

$14 through February!!!!

Sign up online or drop in.


Jan 28, 2014
@ 2:58 pm

BT Love Letter: $14 Pilates Classes in February

This February, we will be giving BodyTonic Pilates Gymnasium some major love as we renovate our space, including the addition of all new Gratz equipment. We anticipate that this process is going to require a little bit of patience and that occasional inconveniences may crop up while we are in transition. Springs may come and go (and come back again) in our classes during this month of transformation or a class may have to be canceled, but we can assure you the creativity of our instructors and the full range of props will be utilized to give you the kind workout experience you have come to rely on and expect.

{Jennifer teaching Spine Stretch.}

In addition, as a valentine to you and/or further enticement to please excuse our dust, we are offering $14 group classes for the entire month of February!


Jennifer and Candice

PS Click Here for the Winter Class Schedule

PPS If you have a class package, just email and it can be put on hold until March.

PPPS We have equipment for sale—inquire at the desk!


Jan 7, 2014
@ 1:22 pm


It’s time to work off all of that holiday imbibing! BT’s group classes are limited to six participants and are a great way to jump start your 2014 fitness goals. 


7p Pilates with Props with Eva


1p Open Level with Benjamin

7p Intermediate with Megan

8p Basics with Miranda (perfect for Pilates newbies or clients looking to refine their form)


1p Open Level with Jennifer


9a Open Level with Peggy

12p Basics with Benjamin (perfect for Pilates newbies or clients looking to refine their form)


12p Open Level with Jennifer

4p Open Level with Megan

Cost: $20 or 10 for $180

Reserve your spot today 718.622.6222 or


Dec 22, 2013
@ 4:45 pm

Holiday Class Schedule 12/23-1/1

Monday 12/23 

7p Pilates with Props with Eva

Tuesday 12/24 

1p Open Level with Benjamin
evening classes canceled

Studio Closed 12/25 Merry Christmas!
Thursday and Friday classes canceled

Saturday 12/28 

9a Open Level with Peggy
12p Basics with Benjamin

Sunday 12/29

12p Open Level with Diana
4p Open Level with Jenny

Monday 12/30

7p Pilates with Props with Eva

Tuesday 12/31

1p Open Level with Benjamin
evening classes canceled

Studio Closed 1/1 Happy New Year!

Book Online or Call 718.622.6222.


Dec 22, 2013
@ 4:14 pm

Apprentice Privates in 2014

Looking to jumpstart your 2014 fitness goals on a budget?


{Pictured: BT Apprentices using the Reformer jump board under Jennifer DeLuca’s direction.}

Two BT teachers-in-training, Nina Kramer and Laura Petraglia, will be taking clients beginning January 2014. Sessions are ideal for beginner and slow intermediate clients.

Sundays at 11am (Laura) or Fridays at 5p (Nina).

Cost: 5 for $87.50 or 10 for $350

Call 718.622.6222 or email to book.


Dec 20, 2013
@ 2:01 pm

Give the gift of health!
Happy Holidays

Give the gift of health!

Happy Holidays



Oct 20, 2013
@ 10:15 am

Dispatch from Iraqi Kurdistan: BT Apprentice Chris Niles Gets Creative in the Soldiers’ Gym

I’ve been deployed to northern Iraq by the United Nations to work on the Syrian refugee crisis. My home until the end of the year is the UN compound in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where I live with a lively assortment of UN staff, and guarded by Nepalese Gurkhas. 

The compound is strictly no-frills. It’s surrounded by t-walls to absorb bomb blasts and holds a bunch of offices, dormitories, a cafeteria, a tennis court, a bar and a gym.

Kurdish soldiers, Peshmergas, stand at the front gate with machine guns. 

I’m here because the refugee crisis has been designated as a Level-3 emergency. That’s what humanitarians say when we mean we have a really big problem. There are more than 200,000 Syrians in Iraq and the number rises daily.

Working with refugee children is exhilarating, exhausting, heartbreaking, and the most rewarding work I’ve ever undertaken. But it takes a toll on your body. I sit more in cars, and don’t walk as much as I used to in New York. Work days are very long and weekends are very short. We lurch from crisis to crisis.


It’s easy to feel stressed. And I don’t have my favorite Pilates teachers to whip me into shape. Old familiar aches and pains that had vanished when I began my BodyTonic teacher training began to sneak back. Working out in my tiny room wasn’t enough.

I went in search of equipment.

I found the gym in a really large tent, furnished with a brutally imaginative array of weight lifting apparatus—gigantic machines that wouldn’t be out of place in a Transformers movie. The free weights were equally terrifying—the smallest dumbbell was the size of a Volkswagon. There was not a thing in that room that I could move, let alone lift.

 I mentioned my dismay to a colleague. “That’s the soldiers’ gym,” he said. “We civilians have our own.”

The civilians’ gym at least had solid walls and a door, and as I went in, I nursed an irrational hope that there might be something I could work with. Hey, Pilates is everywhere now, right? Why not northern Iraq?

I found two physio balls, a single set of one kg hand weights, and a sad, limp mat that, judging by the stains, may or may not have been used to wrap a dead body.

How was I going to manage for four months? I saw the benefits of my practice, and my teacher training falling away. Just when I needed them most.

But, as the Buddha was fond of pointing out, our chief source of unhappiness is wishing reality to be something other than what it is.

“You’ve learned a lot, and you own it now,” Jennifer said, encouragingly, via email.

I focused instead on WWJD. What Would Jennifer Do?

I started with the classic mat series using the ball and the Theraband I’d brought from New York. I’m fond of Megan’s method of using the band tied around the thighs for the side leg series, and I did that every day. I worked a lot on balance, (to remind myself that no matter how consuming one’s job is, life should have some balance) so I used the Theraband instead of the magic circle for the standing leg presses, and for standing chest expansion.

But as time passed, I wanted to not get rusty on the other equipment, so I moved on to trying replicate the Reformer series with my humble props. Leg work with the Theraband, arms circles, and rowing with hand weights, and so forth.

I felt quite clever when I realized yesterday that an ordinary gym bench and handweights can stand in for the long box series. Short box I wobble through on the physio ball. Benjamin taught me how to modify Swakatee with the Theraband, so I do that too. I pretend to do long back stretch on the gym bench, but who are we kidding? Nothing is moving out or in, so it’s just triceps dips. Still, I imagine I’m on the Reformer.

Another metaphorical light bulb went on when I realized I could modify the ped-o-pull plié series with my back to one of the gym’s vertical beams and using hand weights or the Theraband instead of arm springs.

I love (and need) thigh stretch, so I wrap the Theraband around the beam and pretend it’s the roll down bar on the Cadillac. Kneeling chest expansion and squats work well there, too. Although every time I do them I offer up a little prayer to the Pilates pantheon that the Theraband holds out for the duration of my deployment.

For ballet stretches, I’ve re-purposed a torture-ready piece of equipment that I’ve yet to discern the correct purpose of, but which has a padded shelf that’s roughly the same height as the high barrel. I pretend that the barrel ladder is behind me as I stretch. 

Visualization and creativity are built into the Pilates method, so I hope that Joe and Romana, up there in Pilates heaven, approve of my jerry-built solutions, however imperfect they may be. 

As for my gym-going colleagues, I have no idea what they make of me. At first I felt a little silly because I wasn’t bench pressing 100 pounds or running miles on the treadmill.

But that passed.

When I practice in this ratty old gym in northern Iraq, I feel closer to my teachers, all of whom inspired me to be creative, and to the Method. I’ve long believed that the benefits of Pilates are not just physical. Pilates strengthens your mind as well. 

And I see that even more clearly here, where I don’t have all the things I think I need, but at the same time, I really do.

 -Chris Niles, October 18, 2013


Sep 12, 2013
@ 1:07 pm

Pilates Circuit Training returns tomorrow night 7p! Pick up some $10 toe sox out of our sale bin and join Candice for a sweaty workout on all of the equipment to a fun playlist. 
Rsvp online or call 718.622.6222 or just drop in! Class is open to 10 clients.

Pilates Circuit Training returns tomorrow night 7p! Pick up some $10 toe sox out of our sale bin and join Candice for a sweaty workout on all of the equipment to a fun playlist. 

Rsvp online or call 718.622.6222 or just drop in! Class is open to 10 clients.


Sep 11, 2013
@ 2:44 pm

Romana Kryzanowska 1923-2013

Dear Romana, 

I am forever grateful for your spirited and demanding teaching. You are forever woven into the fabric of my teaching and I hope I convey a fraction of the wonder and genius of Joe that you conveyed in your teaching. I will never forget your athleticism (in your 70’s!), your enthusiasm and your use of the word po-po. You gave me my final exam. You reprimanded me for drinking too much water. You called me something like “galupchek.” You inspired me and terrified me and therefore, sculpted me. I hope to do you justice in my years in the practice of Pilates, always a student first, and I as move forward as a teacher and a teacher of teachers, I will quote you often and honor you always. I will only regret not remaining closer to you and Drago’s in my later days. But that is all okay; you could be there and I could be here and you could be a diva and I would always admire that. My highest honor was accompanying you just once to a convention for dancers as a demonstrator…a dream for me really and I know there is a photograph somewhere of you and me there, and I hope someday to come across it. I congratulate you on a life well-lived, which we all know now is not simple or easy. As the world mourns the loss of a Pilates goddess and an icon I imagine a lot of applause among the tears and the deep sense of loss. I wish you and your family peace. With love and gratitude…

Jennifer DeLuca

A memorial to honor Romana’s life will take place on

Friday, September 13, 2013 at 4 pm at:

St. Patrick’s Cathedral
14 East 51st Street
New York, NY 10022