With pilates studios that stretch from the New York City area to—this fall—Los Angeles, pilates master instructor Erika Bloom has a location everywhere her roster of celebrities, pro athletes, and other well-heeled clients want to be. (In 2013, she even launched a studio based in Turks and Caicos at the request of top fans who vacation there!) Bloom doesn’t offer the typical sign-up-and-stretch-out classes, though. Her fitness philosophy is all about customizing a wellness program that works best for each individual’s body, issues, and goals—whether that’s how to posture-correct for red carpet photos or a total recalibration including nutrition counseling and acupuncture.
We caught up with the exercise guru between sessions at her East Hampton studio, and got her to spill her wellness secrets, bicoastal hangouts, and the details of her deliberately low-key LA studio.
LUXURY RETREATS: Pilates studios are everywhere. What makes Erika Bloom Pilates different?
ERIKA BLOOM: I believe it’s our strong adherence to education, integrating in new discoveries about how the body works, and just being really thoughtful about it. We want to really offer personalization and customization within the structure of science and Pilates through private or duet classes only. There’s just no one else doing that.
There are a lot of studios in LA, for instance, who are doing what they call ‘classical Pilates,’ because they stick with [founder] Joseph Pilates’ original exercises and original order. But Joe didn’t work that way. He was obsessed with learning about tai chi, yoga, and the newest medical research; his method was always growing. We feel we are the most true to what his method is supposed to be, which is to say, how can we find out not just how to achieve this exercise but what it does for this person’s body?
I’m also passionate about beautiful spaces, and our studios are beautiful. I think part of effective exercise is being really mindful, and when you have a space that is clean and minimal, it facilitates a mind-body connection.
LR: You have studios in New York City, Greenwich, East Hampton, Water Mill, even Turks and Caicos. What prompted a West Coast opening?
BLOOM: Among our clients, we have a couple of actresses that were based in New York who would book movies or TV shows in Los Angeles, and we were sending teachers out there for them all the time. And then some of them relocated and we actually moved teachers out to LA. As our Los Angeles clients have gradually needed more support, we decided to open for them.
I often go to LA myself when one of my clients has something big coming up, like they’re about to start filming or they’re going to the Oscars. Their stylist may tell me what their gown looks like for a certain event, and then we’ll figure out how to get their posture better for that particular gown and how they should stand, and do training sessions around that. It’s amazing to see that sometimes if you just change your posture, you can look more graceful.
LR: How does the LA location compare to your five other studios?
BLOOM: Like all our studios, we’re offering private sessions only. We’re very focused on correct form and individual programming and the private sessions just get the best results with that approach. In our other studios we also have full wellness programs with acupuncture, massage, and Chinese medicine, but we’re doing a slightly softer opening in LA for now.
We’re excited about the space we found in Brentwood. The concern for our celebrity clients is paparazzi, so we wanted something with hidden parking and a hidden entrance. The new space has valet parking, an entrance at the back, and no other businesses around it. We’re in an office building and really, really private—but it has ocean views because it’s on the top floor.
LR: Do you have any favorite places that you snack post-Pilates near any of your locations?
BLOOM: In New York City, I love Juice Press, and I go a lot. I usually get their Soul Garden juice, though I just had their chocolate chip gladiator cookies (which I really shouldn’t be eating, to be honest!).
In Los Angeles, I head to Kreations Organic Kafe & Juicery. They have amazing juice and aloe water, too, which I know sounds like it’s nothing, but it makes my stomach and my digestion just work.
LR: And where do you head out for meals?
BLOOM: My favorite restaurant in New York City is Café Clover. It’s really high-end cuisine, but mostly vegan, vegetable-based, farm-to-table, and organic. It has a very New York vibe, yet you’re not having steak frite and martinis, you’re getting seed crackers and sweet potato broccoli spread. Another place I love in New York is De Maria, and the design of our LA studio is actually partially inspired on a painting in that gorgeous restaurant. They do vegetable bowls, and give you a shot of bone broth on the side. It’s the best bone broth ever. Even better, you can order it anytime of the day—even for breakfast.
In the Hamptons, I love to cook and the farm stands are amazing. But there’s also Wölffer Kitchen [locations in Sag Harbor and Amagansett] filled with vegetables that are elevated, basically. They’ll do zucchini noodles with local tomatoes that will blow your mind, they’re so sweet.
I follow my gut and eat what I feel like works for me at the time. I keep a food mood diary, where I write about what I’m eating and how that feels. Right now, I’m eating a grain-free vegetable-based diet with a little bit of local fish, but sometimes I’ll put chicken back into it.
LR: You (obviously!) spend a lot of time exercising. So where do you go to relax and unwind?
BLOOM: In Los Angeles, I like to go to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena. It’s so lovely there. I grew up in Pasadena and used to go as a kid all the time, so as an adult it holds really special memories.
In New York, I pop up to the Hudson River Valley. I’ll jump in the car, drive up, and go hiking, or I’ll go to Storm King [an open-air museum]. I recently became a higher-level member there, so I can’t wait to go in the winter this year when it’s basically closed to the public.
LR: Do you have any favorite shops you frequent near your studios?
BLOOM: In East Hampton there’s a store I love called Clic [additional locations in New York City and St. Barth], owned by the woman who started Calypso. She personally hand-sources and works in the East Hampton store. She has all these amazing things, like handmade jewelry, purses, clothing, home goods, and kid stuff—I just bought a clutch there recently.
In New York City, I like a store called Warm. They sell super, super hip, hard-to-find brands of clothing, all a little bit boho. And then they have home goods, beauty products, jewelry—it’s really a mixture of beautifully curated stuff.
On the Avenue in Greenwich, CT, we recently did a fitness t-shirt collaboration with Crane & Lion. I’m wearing one of those shirts right now. This one has a low armpit, which I think is super-cool because you can have a sports bra stick out. It’s a flattering cut with a long line back seam. I wore it to teach this morning, and now I’m wearing it out on the street with my jeans. I like a studio-to-street look.
LR: What does the term “luxury” mean to you?
BLOOM: I asked myself that question in thinking about why I wanted to open a studio. There’s an approach to luxury that’s about more, more, more, and I’m super into the idea that it’s about better, better, better. Our clients can have the best of the best, so it’s about how we figure out what’s going to be the smartest thing for them. It needs to be really from the inside out and very well-thought out. If you have the money to have the best, you don’t need to do what everybody else is doing. So for me, luxury is about about thoughtfulness, and having the time and the resources to figure out what really is the most intelligent thing for you.