I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published July 26th 2015
Pilates for the mind, body, soul, and heart
Blink and you'll miss it. The Heart of Pilates is a heavenly little Pilates studio discreetly tucked away in a non-descript shopfront in Bayswater, down a narrow one-way street that few have cause to venture down. And it is this secluded location that makes you feel like you've stumbled across something secret, something exclusive, something away from the rest of the world. But the studio is of course open to everyone from beginners to advanced, and the divine Nicole Bourke will welcome you with open arms.
Nicole opened her studio in December 2014, following the completion of her Pilates Instructor course in 2012. She has been a personal trainer since 2008, and is passionate about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle, connecting mind, body and soul. Running her own business has been her dream, and hard work and a desire to pass on the benefits of the principles of Pilates to others has culminated in this lovely little piece of bliss in between the Mountain High Shopping Centre and Station Street.
From the moment you step through the doors into Nicole's studio, your troubles, worries and stresses are left behind. Soft downlights brighten the room just enough without being too overpowering, a scented candle flickers from its ceramic holder, music hums gently in the background and the gorgeous white lattice screen by the front window hides you away from the prying eyes of the few pedestrians that pass by. Little white wooden boxes for your shoes and essentials line the wall just near the entrance, avoiding a big, messy jumble of random sneakers, jackets and handbags by the door. A selection of cookbooks rest casually on top of the low shelves, should you arrive to class early and wish to have glance through to get some healthy inspiration for the kitchen. The polished timber floorboards gleam and are quiet underfoot as you softly pad over to the workout area once your shoes are neatly stowed away.
Even the equipment is lovely – mats that are colour coordinated (no need to bring your own) and cleaned after every use with a squirt of something so fresh and citrusy you feel like you could eat it, light hand weights in bright pink and lavender purple to add an extra dimension to your workouts, and soft, squishy soccer-sized balls to use for balance and strengthening exercises. So much more appealing than doing yoga in a draughty old church hall, or rolling around clumsily on a half-inflated fit ball in a sweaty gym, or attempting a bunch of ab crunches on prickly carpet in your lounge room in front of the TV (because, really…we all lose interest in that after about 30 seconds!).
The gorgeous studio all set ready for a Pilates Matwork class (Photo courtesy of Nicole Bourke)
The Heart of Pilates offers classes from Monday to Saturday, all taught by the lovely Nicole. Classes are run at differing times throughout the week to cater for the busy lives that we all lead these days: early mornings for those who want to squeeze something in before work, mid-mornings for those don't work a typical Monday-Friday week or who have just done the morning school drop-offs, as well as evening and Saturday morning classes. In addition to Pilates Matwork, you may wish to indulge in some of Nicole's other classes available on the weekly schedule: Pilates Barre, Core Barre, or for an early morning burst of energy, MindBodySoul HIIT. I've yet to try out some of the Barre classes or the HIIT class (although my curiosity is almost getting the better of me!) but Nicole's Pilates Matwork classes are excellent. They can be as challenging as you would like them to be, and often have a few non-traditional Pilates movements incorporated into the workouts. But you are encouraged to work at your own pace, and options are always given for less strenuous versions of each exercise. The classes finish with a few minutes of deep relaxation, completely losing yourself in the moment as you lie peacefully on your back, eyes closed, lights dimmed, creating harmony between your mind and body before you head on back to the outside world.
Reservations for classes are made through the studio's website (given places are limited), and payment is also made online (meaning you don't even need to bring any cash to your class). Prices start at a reasonable $20 each for a casual class, with no joining fees or lock-in contracts, and if you do need to cancel, your payment can be transferred to another class at a future date. 5, 10 and 20 Class Passes are also available, as well as special packages for newcomers. Nicole's classes are fun, uplifting, positive, and there's no yelling or blasting out exercises Commando-style. She is calm and graceful, teaches with passion, quietly and gently corrects any moves you may be doing that are not quite right, and sometimes will even give you a little foot rub or a light temple massage as you unwind at the end of the class.
With so many options available now to keep one's self fit and healthy (twenty-four hour gyms in most suburbs, Zumba classes at local community centres, cross fit studios in old converted warehouses, bootcamps, personal trainers, mud runs and obstacle course races…the list goes on) it's hard to know what to choose! But the Heart of Pilates is perfect if you are looking for something new to add to your routine, need to increase your strength and flexibility, or just need some peaceful time-out away from everything. Your mind, your body, your soul—and your heart—will love you for it.