Most people know pilates for the man who created it—Joseph Pilates–but fewer know the German physical trainer originally coined his World War I-era method "Contrology," named for the science of control. Practitioners know that's fitting terminology, as the root of the conditioning is in small, deliberate muscle movements that strengthen the core and provide for better balance and alignment. Properly practicing Pilates is one big exercise in control.
That's what Courtney Lindsay and Kale Luhrman are preaching at Control Studios, the fitness instructors' new enterprise at 2116 Bissonnet Street. The name harkens back to Contrology, and for good reason: Lindsay and Luhrman tout their studio as one of the few in Houston that's true to Pilates' original method and dedicated to teaching the classical style.
With Control, you could argue the duo is democratizing Pilates—for years, classical Contrology has been reserved for private sessions, offered to elite clientele on an individual basis; in fact, that's how Lindsay and Luhrman taught it prior to opening their studio. Classes at Control are still small—four to a group—to ensure a hands-on experience for each student, and any level is welcome. Consider it bringing what Lindsay and Luhrman dub "OG Pilates" to the masses one small set at a time.
Control is outfitted with the original apparatuses Pilates engineered—patented in the early '20s and manufactured by Gratz Industries—including the Universal Reformer, Wunda Chair, and smaller auxiliary equipment used in group classes. Mat classes, which can accommodate up to seven, also use spine correctors and hand weights; a special "Mom and Baby" mat class is geared toward postpartum mothers, and yoga classes can host 10 students.
The 1,545-square-foot, second-floor studio is chic and minimalist but still warm and inviting, save for the medieval-looking equipment that could scare off the uninitiated under any other circumstances. A class at Control is personalized and informative, though, and our recent visit found Luhrman sending students through classic moves like the hundred all while explaining their origins and expertly flipping the Gratz contraptions into new configurations.
It stands to reason that Luhrman, Lindsay, and their team are good at what they do—they count among their own teachers first- and second-generation Pilates aficionados like Chris Robinson, the Muay Thai kickboxing champ and personal trainer to Oprah who learned from Joseph Pilates prodigy Romana Kryzanowska (and recently guest-taught at Control), and Alycea Ungar, whose celebrity clientele includes Madonna, Uma Thurman, Kyra Sedgwick, Claire Danes, and Molly Sims. If going to Control means getting as ripped as Madge, well, we'll see you at class.