We sit down with Muse Pilates Owner & Founder – Allana Frisken
Have you ever considered dipping your toes into the world of Pilates? It can be an exciting, yet sometimes daunting experience signing up for a new form of exercise, especially one that looks mildly intimidating – I mean, exercise on a bed? How does that even work!?
To answer all your questions, and to put your mind at ease, we caught up with owner and founder of one of the Hunter’s leading Pilates Studios, Allana Frisken of Muse Pilates. From how the brand started and what you can expect on your first Pilates session to unpacking the Pilates lingo – we’ve covered it all!
Thanks for sitting down with us Allana - to get things started, can you tell us whereabouts you are from and what brought you to Newcastle?
I’ve lived all around Australia. From NSW to WA, my father’s work has taken me all around. I spent a lot of time in Sydney and then my husband and I moved up to Newcastle with our two kids. We wanted to spend more time with our family and needed a sea change.
Can you tell me a bit about your background prior to starting the Muse Pilates brand?
I have had a diverse career in business. I completed my Business Degree at Curtin University in Perth and started my career. I moved to Sydney and worked in all areas of business from event management to franchising, and training.
What sparked the desire behind launching Muse Pilates?
I first came across Pilates when I was looking for a way to work out after an injury. I had knee surgery and experienced complications afterward. I can't tell you how much reformer Pilates helped me in my recovery. When I first injured my knee, I spent the first couple of months just feeling sorry for myself wishing I could go back to HIIT workouts and spin class. But eventually, I realized that I needed to get moving again.
That's when I decided to give reformer Pilates a try. Knowing that this would be an excellent low-impact way to exercise, I signed up for a class. I knew I had found something that I loved and needed to share with others. The benefits of Pilates are endless, but for me, it was the opportunity to help people feel good about themselves and their bodies.
I want to make reformer Pilates fun and accessible. I want everyone to feel comfortable in their bodies and empowered by their workouts. I am committed to making sure that every client feels welcome and comfortable in the studio, regardless of their body type or fitness level. I want our studios to be a safe space where clients can get an excellent workout without worrying about feeling judged or uncomfortable so that they can bounce out feeling better than they did when they walked in!
From the launch of your first Muse Pilates Studio in Dulwich Hill back in 2019 to now, how many studios does the brand have today and where can we find them?
We now have ten Muse Pilates studios across NSW and ACT. We have three in the Newcastle/Hunter area – Maitland, Warners Bay, and Hamilton. Four in Sydney - Camperdown, Dulwich Hill, Bexley North, and Sans Souci is opening on the 7th of November. And down in Canberra, we have – Dickson, Kingston, and Woden – with another studio coming next year.
What made you launch the brand into the Newcastle/Hunter region?
I moved around a lot when I was younger, but the Hunter Valley has a special place in my heart. My family lived in Lochinvar, and I went to primary school at St Patrick's. I love that Newcastle has a slower pace and a more relaxed vibe than the hustle and bustle of city life. When I was living in Sydney, it was hard to stop and smell the roses because you feel like you are always in a hurry.
I love that Newcastle is so community-minded, which makes it the perfect place for Muse. We wanted to build a community of warm, welcoming like-minded Pilates-goers that feel like they belong.
For those new to the world of Pilates, can you explain what Pilates actually is and who is it for?
Reformer Pilates is a strength-based workout that is low resistance and can be enjoyed by a lot of people. It's a great way to strengthen your body while improving your flexibility and balance at the same time.
Pilates is for everyone and anyone at any time in their life. It meets you exactly where you are. Anyone who wants to increase their strength and mobility will enjoy Pilates. You may be a former gym junkie or someone who’s never worked out before. Our classes accommodate everything.
From the first class to the long-term benefits, what can people expect from Pilates?
When you arrive at your first class the instructor will give you a rundown of the reformer (it’s not as intimidating as it looks, promise!). Tight-fitting clothing is always best so that the instructor can keep an eye on your form. Apart from yourself, you only need to bring a pair of socks and perhaps a bottle of water.
Don’t worry if you don’t know all of the Pilates lingo straight away, the instructor will talk you through everything. Like anything… give yourself a few more weeks and soon you'll know the lingo. With Pilates, it’s not just a matter of showing up and doing the moves—it's about doing them right. And if you want to do them right, you have to put in some work.
When you do it right, it feels amazing. You'll feel the Pilates working during and after the class. It will transform both your mind and body when you practice with presence and when you do it consistently.
After consistent sessions, you will have increased strength, mobility, and flexibility. If you have never tried reformer Pilates before, it can be hard to imagine how a workout that does not leave you drenched in sweat can produce results. But trust us; it does!
Can you explain what the difference is between Reformer Pilates vs. Floor Pilates?
Unlike floor (mat) Pilates, Reformer Pilates uses a reformer machine. While both have great benefits, I believe that Reformer Pilates is simpler because you have points of reference to the machine. The reformer adds an element of strength training, as you can add resistance with different springs.
What if I’m pregnant or injured? Can I still do a Reformer Pilates session?
At Muse Pilates studio we can make modifications for injury, and we offer private classes for our pregnant clients.
Have you got any advice or words of wisdom for someone who might be considering trialing Pilates that might be feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or intimidated?
Don’t let your ego stop you from taking modifications. We all have days where we just don't feel like doing a certain move in class. Maybe you tore a muscle last week and moving your leg up over your head is just not going to happen for you today. That's okay! We understand that sometimes you just need to take the modification and move on with your day—and that's okay! As a long-time Pilates lover and teacher, I even take the modifications!
Every class and every day are different. If you’re feeling fatigued, we’d much prefer you take the regression or ‘lower’ modification. This does not mean that taking this option, somehow makes you less advanced than those who are taking on the more difficult version. It might actually mean that you are more in tune with your body and working out with more integrity, which will result in more transformation.
With so many Pilates studios to choose from in today’s world, what makes Muse Pilates different?
Muse Pilates was founded based on the vision of creating a friendly, all-inclusive space for members to practice Pilates at all levels. Our beautiful studio spaces and amazing instructors give a warm and welcoming vibe to all. Some people wouldn’t feel comfortable in a full and noisy gym and want to view their workouts as an oasis from everyday life.
Muse is a place where people can feel comfortable working out and enjoying their workout. Each studio is designed to be a place where clients can unwind from the pressures of daily life and find some sort of Zen as they work towards improving their physical health.
Another focus is to have amazing instructors. Our team are all highly trained, professional, and friendly and have been hand-picked for their passion for their craft and their dedication to providing exceptional service. They motivate clients through each session, ensuring that clients' time at Muse is both enjoyable and beneficial to their bodies and mind.
We make Reformer accessible to everybody, with the majority of our classes running at an open level where instructors can give alternatives for different levels. The Muse community isn’t just about Pilates, we also have bi-annual wellness retreats (in the Hunter Valley and Byron Bay) as well as regular workshops and meetups.
If you’ve been thinking about giving Pilates a go, check out the incredible offering by Muse Pilates Studio at one of the Hunter-based locations; Hamilton, Warners Bay, or Maitland, and dip your toes into this truly unique community-minded fitness offering.