Samui Wining & Dining
Absolute Sanctuary’s Pilates Reformer class will transform your body.


Nowadays, people are very serious about looking after themselves. They want a toned body with the least amount of effort, classes that are good value for money and expert instructors. Is that a tall order? Not really. Absolute Sanctuary will do all that, and more.

        Tucked away on a hillside, off the main road between Choeng Mon and Chaweng, Absolute Sanctuary celebrated their sixth anniversary on Samui this year. They are an independent entity owned and operated by ‘Absolute Yoga Group’ and provide a highly sought after mix of retreat, yoga, detox, Pilates, spa treatments, fitness and relaxation - a true escape from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.

        But something new and exciting has arrived here on Samui. The first Pilates Reformer group class started in April. Never heard of it? Pilates is a physical fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. The original method was practiced in a specialised studio, was mainly one-on-one and particularly expensive. His first students went on to teach his methods and, as the benefits became more widely known and appreciated, its popularity began to spread.

         The Pilates Reformer method goes one step further, and uses exercise equipment which uses your body weight and various springs to provide resistance. Because it stretches and tones, it is perfect for building and maintaining lean muscle mass. It improves flexibility in the back, hips and hamstrings, increases lung capacity and circulation and increases blood flow to the brain. It encourages correct posture and generally strengthens the muscles all over the body. It works your entire body and all muscle groups resulting in the highly sought after ‘long, lean and toned’ body.

          Anyone can give it a try, but if it’s your first time you’ll need to do the 30 minute foundation class, where the resident instructor will explain how to use the machines. When you first lay eyes on the SPX Reformer machine, you’ll understand why you need to do the foundation class. Lying low on the floor, with a sliding seat, adjustable footrest, five springs, two pulleys and an array of addons, you’ll be grateful someone has explained how it all works and how deceptively easy it is. There are just six machines available, so booking is essential. The small class, however, gives the instructor a chance to personally attend to everyone. You’ll soon feel like you’re in your own private class.

          The machine, combined with the add-ons, provides over 500 different exercises, but the core teachings are centred around the Pilates philosophy. A quick instruction at the beginning ensures you know where your ‘neutral’ pelvic position is, and how you need to engage it in order to provide support for your lower back, essential so that the exercises are done safely.

          The class starts nice and easy and you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s too easy. A couple of squats and bends while holding a long rod and you move easily, smiling to yourself. However this is only the warm up, and it’s only when you sit down and start to engage a combination of the resistance springs, and push away on your sliding seat, or hook your feet through the straps and balance while moving your seat, you start to realise that the class has the potential to work muscles which have been happily dormant for years.

          Under the instructor’s watchful eye, you start to really use the machine to its full potential. Kneeling, pushing, pulling, stretching, reaching and balancing. The exercises are fun, interesting and keep you focussed as you try to maintain good form and work your core. The pace of the class is comfortable which means the instructor is able to check on everyone at once, you never feel like you’re being left behind or are rushing ahead. When correction is needed, it is done gently, with an emphasis on you getting the most out of the experience. By the end of the class, your body will be tingling and energised.

          There are three different classes to choose from - ‘Abs and Arms’ (focussing on your core powerhouse and giving your arms definition), ‘Fit and Tone’ (total body workout to shape and tone your body), and ‘Butt and Thighs’ (targeted to give your lower body a power workout). And because each machine can be adjusted to provide an easier or more challenging workout, the class can easily support different fitness levels.

          You may have worked up an appetite after all that exercise, so why not head to ‘The Love Kitchen’ and enjoy their delicious spa cuisine. Originally a vegetarian restaurant, its focus shifted in 2009, to a menu that included healthy fish, seafood and chicken dishes. And now a new menu inspired by ‘Absolute Fit Food’ is available. This menu proves that healthy food can be delicious too. Using super foods, whole foods, hormone free chicken and ocean caught fish, the meals are organic, free from chemical nasties, have no trans fats, are high in nutrients and low in calories. The new menu will have signature dishes such as a three bean quinoa salad, Absolute seafood quinoa paella, teriyaki chicken with soba, slim quinoa porridge, and larb salmon.

          Fitness and healthy eating, both easily achieved at Absolute Sanctuary.


 Colleen Setchell


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