Budapest: Hungry for Pilates

This piece was written for Pilates Style following my visit to the studio in 2005. However, due to a change in editorial staff, the article was never published. Facts contained within are current as of 2005.

Little more than a decade after the fall of Communism, an enterprising trio of pioneers has broken new ground with Hungary’s first Pilates studio. After completing the Stott certification program in 2003, professional ballet dancers Zsuzsanna Bokor and Krisztián Mélykúti opened the Balance Pilates Studio in downtown Budapest, and were soon joined by Vladka Mala, a Czech-born contemporary dancer who is also certified by Stott.

Zsuzsanna’s husband, Gabor, remains equally involved with the studio. An orthopedic surgeon specializing in back problems and sports injuries, he has brought to the group a high level of technical expertise, as well as a number of patient referrals. To meet the growing demand, Balance Pilates Studio has launched an instructor training program licensed by Stott Pilates. The hope is not only to foster extra teachers for their own practice, but to encourage the growth of additional studios throughout Hungary. Instead of regarding this as potential competition, their vision is what Gabor describes as “critical mass,” the point where Pilates awareness is so broad that everyone in the field benefits from its established reputation.

So far, the studio’s main challenge has been an economical one. Although private sessions are inexpensive by American standards (they cost about US$25), many Hungarians cannot afford this luxury. In order to accommodate more equipment for semi-private sessions, the group recently relocated to a larger space. Even as the business expands, Zsuzsanna, Krisztián, and Vladka strive to create a comfortable atmosphere where clients feel like family. It is in this environment, the trio believes, that their students are most likely to succeed…and to then spread the word about Pilates. For more information, visit

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