Why I swapped boot camp for Pilates as a sunrise workout

KX pilates, Pilates Balmain, benefits of pilates

Is it deeply ingrained in your workout psyche that unless you wake up before sunrise and sweat buckets before breakfast, you weren’t really committed? Even when you dreaded the sound of your alarm and the exercise queued to follow. If so, I absolutely know how you feel.


I spent almost 15 years hauling out of bed for boot camps, soft sand runs, spin classes and hot yoga – and most of the time I loved it. But I’m at a point in my life now (perhaps a brief one, perhaps permanent now I’ve got two tiny kids who don’t let me sleep anywhere near enough) where the idea of a full-on sweat sesh at daybreak doesn’t always fill me with joy. But then a light workout or walk feels like a fitness cop out sometimes too. Same for Hatha yoga – I love it on relaxed weekends, but it doesn’t tick my body blitz box.

Then I was invited to join a 6am weekday session at a new KX Pilates studio near my home in Sydney last week.

Sure, I’ve tried Pilates before (although never KX variety) and yes, I knew it was great for all-over toning (which is why such a raft of svelt-bodied stars like Cameron Diaz, Reece Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Megan Fox are so evangelical about it). Still, what really struck me as petite Balmain studio owner and instructor Jolene took the class through our daybreak paces was how perfectly a reformer class sits in the middle of the ‘hard core’ versus ‘minimal pain’ exercise spectrum, but still does the job (evidence: my aching frame for the following two days).

TIP: What was the class like? The reformer session, set to up-tempo music in a pleasantly temperate room (no 40 degree heat, thank heavens) worked every part of my body, with a little cardio element at the end, without feeling like terribly hard work. But work it certainly did – my quads, obliques and triceps in particular told me exactly what they thought of me the next day. Tone-up tick! (Thanks Jolene.)

Here are 4 reasons KX Pilates is perfect as a pre-work workout that works:

  1. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how late you were up studying (or watching Game of Thrones re-runs) the night before, how unmotivated you feel – rest assured this class involves plenty of exercise that’s horizontal. Once you’re there, you almost always get into the go-hard zone, but it’s not threatening enough to scare you off when you’re exhausted.
  1. There’s no shame or competitive element (unless you want there to be – with yourself). We all love a cheeky challenge, but sometimes the threat of coming last in the boot camp sprints is too much to bear first thing. With reformer Pilates, no one else can tell how many springs you’ve added for resistance (unlike Spin, where it’s really easy to spot someone faking). That doesn’t give you an excuse to get lazy; it just means you can rock up without feeling any pressure to keep up with the folks lying either side.
  1. It still revs up your metabolism, oxygenates your system and gets endorphins flowing for the whole day. The KX workout in particular is intensified by using more muscle fibres in the shortest amount of time, and by reducing rest between exercise sets. This style of training, apparently works by targeting the whole body through continuous, precise, controlled movements and functional exercises.
  1. There’s something far more inviting about a beautiful studio with low lighting and temperature control than a frosty road or fluorescent-lit weights room when the sun’s barely touched the horizon. Weather is never an excuse to stay in bed either.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it for yourself and you’ll see. Even if you’re wedded to your sunrise Cross Fit or running group, Pilates can still offer you a welcome break from time to time. You won’t regret waking up in the dark for it. Promise.

Trivia: KX is named after the Japanese term Kaizen eXperience, meaning ‘change for the better’, which is a philosophy that focuses on small and ongoing improvement.

Rachel road tested KX Pilates for Sporteluxe in Balmain, Sydney. There are now 17 studio locations across Victoria and Sydney, Australia, and offer KX Beginner, KX Intermediate, as well as private 1-on-1 or 2-on-1 classes.

Image credit: iStock
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Rachel Sharp
As the only media identity in Australia to have edited both luxury fashion and fitness magazines, award-winning journalist Rachel Sharp has worked in Sydney, London and Dubai, holding the position of editor on titles including Harper’s BAZAAR and GRAZIA. In 2012, she successfully launched the Australian edition of Women’s Fitness magazine, which scooped Launch of the Year at the 2013 Publishers Australia Excellence Awards. Equal parts fashion-obsessed and fitness enthusiast, Rachel – who grew up in the idyllic beach town of Port Macquarie and is mum to two young children – holds a Bachelors degree in Medical Science and Masters in Writing for Media. Despite the fact she absolutely loves what she does for a living, Rachel would still rather be surfing or snowboarding than at her computer. Carpe diem!