There’s an unspoken uniform at most inner-city Pilates classes. Sculpted bodies are clad in gear pulled straight from the pages of the latest Lululemon catalogue. Yoga pants, loose T-shirts and well-manicured toes proliferate. For many beginners it’s pretty intimidating.

A few reformer-focused studios have popped up across Sydney in the past few months, including Scout Pilates in St Peters and Bodylove Pilates in Woollahra. Reformer workouts use the self-weight and spring resistance of a reformer machine to deliver a full-body routine that builds strength and flexibility.

But Vive Active is breaking out of that mould. It opened its first studio in Brookvale on the northern beaches in 2017. Its new Double Bay outpost delivers an ambitious, amped-up fitness experience in a new location. Unlike most other Pilates studios, it’s kitted out with neon lights.

Vive CEO John Keats and his wife nutrition director Louise Keats co-founded the company in an effort to shake up the industry and debunk misconceptions about Pilates. “I’d never really done Pilates up until a few years ago, when I was reluctantly dragged to a small traditional reformer Pilates studio for chronic lower back pain,” John tells Broadsheet. “I then set out to create a high-performance version … that was even more effective yet so much more fun.”

Backed by its success on the northern beaches, shifting into the eastern suburbs market felt like a natural next step. Its second studio echoes the nightclub-esque aesthetic of the original, with the sleek fit-out designed by Louise and constructed by Siren Design. State-of-the-art lighting, mirrored ceilings and thumping tracks unite to set the mood.

Forget slow movements and repetitive routines. At Vive trainers keep heart rates and spirits high. The Double Bay space has six class styles, including its newly launched Vive Combat (which the Keatses say is their toughest class yet). It combines floor and reformer movements with heavier weights and tougher springs to build muscle and strength. It’ll also be offering free instructional classes to welcome first-timers and beginners. All classes run for just 50 minutes and are crafted to pack a punch and seamlessly fit into Sydneysiders’ busy schedules. It’s a formula designed to attract all walks of life, particularly those who’d usually give Pilates a miss altogether.

“We’ve got loads of men, including professional athletes, coming to our classes for a competitive edge,” says Louise.

After class, hit the showers and take advantage of Vive’s handy amenities: towels, a hair bar, lockers, snack bar and phone chargers. In the months to come the studio will host Vive After Dark, a monthly event series bringing in expert guest speakers to chat about topics (over a drink or two) such as sleep, sex, meditation, gut health and intermittent fasting.

Vive Active Double Bay
Knox Lane, Double Bay

Mon to Fri 6am–7pm
Sat & Sun 6am–1pm

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on September 23, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.