A Look Inside Fishtown’s New, Totally Retro Pilates Studio

Appropriately named, Retro Pilates features vintage decor (hello egg chairs!) and blast-from-the-past music in an intimate setting.

Retro Pilates, Fishtown’s newest Pilates studio, features vintage vibes and classic playlists. / Photograph courtesy of Retro Pilates.

Over the past 100 years, Pilates — the low-impact exercise developed by Joseph Pilates — has evolved and transformed. Originally used to help rehabilitate folks hospitalized during World War I (the first iteration of the Pilates Cadillac consisted of bed springs rigged to headboards and footboards), the modality eventually gained popularity with dancers like Martha Graham. In more recent times, Pilates has earned a here-to-stay reputation thanks to Solidcore’s and SLT’s highly sought-out megaformer workouts.

And now, a new Fishtown fitness studio is creating its own vision for the future of Pilates — a future that is, well, retro.

Opened in June, Retro Pilates makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time while you’re working out. The bright color palette and mid-century aesthetic greet you as soon as you enter: red ceiling, exposed brick, a custom 1960s wooden desk, and two white and scarlet egg pod chairs, making for a totally blast-from-the-past lounge area.

Retro Pilates’ reception area. / Photograph courtesy of Retro Pilates.

Records line the top perimeter of the studio’s massive mirror wall, while artwork of icons like Bob Dylan, Twiggy, and Muhammad Ali adorns another wall. And in the back, there are lockers vibrant with teal, yellow, and burnt orange.

Plus, all the playlists are curated to include rock, folk, and blues music ranging from the ‘60s through early 2000s. Who would’ve thought we’d be doing the Hundred or Frogs to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Blondie, and Simon & Garfunkel?

Folks taking class at Retro Pilates. / Photograph courtesy of Retro Pilates.

Besides the vintage vibes, the Fishtown studio offers a super intimate Pilates experience. Retro houses just six Allegro 2 reformers — five for clients and one for the instructor — meaning you’ll always get the energy and accountability that comes with group classes, but also the one-on-one attention inherent in a semi-private workout. Also, expect to use bungees, bands, straps, and the always fun jumpboard — and feel free to don your best sweatband and leg warmers.

Artwork showcasing mid-century icons. / Photograph courtesy of Retro Pilates.

Founder Kayla Sarian, who was a Pilates instructor out in LA for 11 years before moving to Fishtown last March, says a retro fitness studio would not only reflect her own interests, but be something that the Fishtown community would embrace with open arms.

“I knew the space had to remain true to what I’m passionate about, which, other than Pilates, is music, furniture, and the overall mood of the 1960s through early 2000s,” Sarian says. “Plus, Fishtown is fun, artsy, and funky — and there’s a demand for Pilates in the neighborhood. I wanted the experience to feel like you’re working out in an art gallery or record store with your friends.”

Retro Pilates founder and owner, Kayla Sarian. / Photograph courtesy of Retro Pilates.

Retro hosts all-levels classes seven days per week mostly in the mornings and evenings, with the occasional noon workout. (You can peep the full schedule here.) If you’re new to Pilates or just want to go back to basics, opt for their Intro to Retro class. Your first class is free, and after that, $25 for a drop-in. They also have various class packages, which you can view here.

Retro Pilates is located at 2423 Frankford Avenue in Fishtown.