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New: Pilates studio

A new Pilates studio in Tonbridge offering loads of classes from bootybarre to back rehabilitation - oh and there's treatment rooms and a cute café too!

I first tried Pilates back in my twenties when the motivation was getting a body like a ballet dancer. The goal was simply those beautiful long, lean muscles.

Now in my mid-Forties, doing a lot of computer work, constantly driving around two kids or being dragged along by our Labrador I have terrible posture and aching joints. So the attraction has become less so the dancer’s body (although that would be nice) but more the rehabilitation and strengthening benefits.

So was delighted to be invited to try out Ismini Phillips Studios, the brand new sparkling Pilates studio in Tonbridge, an incredibly friendly place that makes you feel welcome whatever your age or ability.


This new studio comes complete with an on-site café, two treatment rooms and three well-equipped exercise studios. The environment is designed to be relaxing and refreshing, giving you a beautiful space to unwind. The idea being you don’t just pop in for a class, but take the time to focus on yourself and enjoy a healthy treat as well – either from the café, or complementary therapies like sports massages and reflexology in the treatment rooms.

Whether you are completely new to the practice or have years of experience, you will find a class to suit – click here to see the timetable. They also offer one-to-one Pilates for rehabilitation and healthcare, providing support for mums-to-be, people with breast cancer, people with neurological conditions, and those suffering from back pain.


Classes are held in the new purpose-built studio right next to the big Sainsbury’s carpark in Tonbridge. So really convenient for parking, jumping out the car and getting to your class on time (oh, just me that’s always running late?)


Owner Ismini Phillips has been teaching Pilates since 2007 and set up Ismini Phillips Studios earlier this year (2019). She’s incredibly knowledgeable, make that infectiously evangelical, about the benefits of Pilates.

What’s more she has some serious credentials. She’s a qualified Pilates teacher, bootybarre teacher, Back4Good practitioner, MS/neurological conditions exercise specialist, and breast cancer exercise specialist, (running the Pink Ribbon Program – the sessions are designed to help with post-surgery recovery). Ismini offers a variety of mat and equipment classes, running sessions that are suitable for all, including those returning to exercise.


And if you are hankering after those long, lean muscles we talked about you’ll be glad to know, Ismini was invited to LA to train as one of the UK’s four bootybarre Master Trainers. If you haven’t come across this class yet, as the name might suggest, the bootybarre workout is based around the barre: the handrail that ballet dancers use for balance and poise. It’s more high intensity than Pilates and ideal for those that like to work up a sweat.

Fusing ballet with yoga and pilates, barre tones and strengthens your body while creating that dancer’s physique. It’s become a super trendy exercise that keeps A-list celebs and Victoria’s Secrets models in great shape.


They have three state-of-the-art Pilates studios here, complete with all the latest equipment, such as arc barrels, cadillacs and reformers. While the Pilates group classes tend to take place on mats one of the studios is given over to the traditional Pilates equipment, a combination of seats and beds that use springs as resistance.

This is how the exercise first came about – by attaching springs to hospital beds, so that patients could start toning their muscles even while they were still bed-bound.

It might look like a torture chamber – but I can testify that it’s liberating not painful. I was so pleased to be free of those shoulder knots – the effects really are incredible – I honestly felt 2 inches taller (less hunched) after my trial session.

Ismini always recommends an assessment when you are new to the studio and it is essential for some medical conditions. She begins our session by giving me a full body reading to locate my ‘problem areas’. Basically she quickly looks at my musculature and body alignment so she can make personalised recommendations.

We then practise Pilates on the machines in a way that works for my body. Not surprisingly the issue is my shoulders and upper back – and we work on releasing the tension there.

In my life before Muddy I was a health editor on a national magazine so I’ve done a lot of this kind of thing before – but I was particularly impressed with Ismini’s very thorough and knowledgeable approach.


It’s not just Pilates on offer here. There’s also Latin Vibes (a fun, friendly dance workout – currently running monthly but due to increase); bootybarre (combing dance Pilates and yoga to create an intense workout for the whole body) and Feldenkrais Method. This is an exercise therapy, named after the founder, and focuses on improved movement and enhanced functioning of the joints. (The method is claimed to reorganize connections between the brain and body and so improve body movement and psychological state.)


Basically just regular gym workout gear. Leggings and a t-shirt or vest top will do the trick. There’s even a lovely little shop selling workout gear in the café area. There are no shoes in the studio, and you’ll need socks. Ismini was wearing some natty little toesox with anti-slip grips on the bottom – which looked like a good investment. Class regulars wear these but you’ll have to get used to socks that go round your toes, much like gloves (much better for your balance apparently).


Good for: If you’re looking for a Pilates Studio this place has it all. The one-to-one sessions are very effective and perfect for rehabilitation or if you are injured. This is an exciting new offering in Tonbridge, wonderfully accessible for the surrounding areas too as it’s right on the carpark – so within travelling distance for Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks folk too. It’s also a stone’s throw from the mainline station and on the main bus routes.

Not for: If you’re the type that has to leave your exercise class sweaty and exhausted, Pilates probably isn’t your thing. But then with bootybarre also on the timetable (this is an intense workout, if that’s what you’re after!) there really is something for everyone here.

Ismini Phillips Studios, The Pavilion, 31 Angel Lane, Tonbridge, TN9 1GF, Tel: 01732 669683,

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