Last week I went to Scottsdale, Arizona to meet a friend I have known since we both were three years old. We grew up together in Minnesota and although our paths have taken us to opposite sides of the country, we have stayed connected and remain “family” in everything but biology. We spent a long weekend catching up and simply enjoying being around each other again. I realized that this sense of community, of friendship and connection with other people, is essential to well being and is priceless. 

I have often thought about the friendships and sense of community that have developed at this studio. People who come here find themselves with stronger bodies and new friendships that will last a lifetime.  I am so proud to be part of this! 

So, I have good news – a new restaurant is opening in the center.  It is going to be beautiful and comfortable and will be the perfect place for us to enjoy our Viva Pilates community outside the studio. We are even going to move our book club meetings from our studio lounge to the new bistro!

And, my friend who joined me in Arizona? She was inspired and has signed up for private Pilates back home. I am thrilled for her and hope her studio provides her with both strength and friendships to last a lifetime. 

Looking Forward

by Paul Meripol

The other day I was speaking to a client and she said to me, “I look forward to this hour all week.” Her words took me back several years to when I first began my Pilates practice. Kathryn was my teacher. Within my first very few sessions, I had that very same feeling. I signed up for a Monday night class and I actually found myself looking forward to Mondays! It was a time that was all mine in a very personal way, set aside from the cares of the day, a time to focus on movement, and breath, and learning. I quickly came to see my time in the studio as the best hour of my week. This wonderful system of exercise, taught by a thoroughly knowledgeable and caring teacher, came to be a cornerstone in my life.

So now I am a teacher. And the clients I teach look to me to help make their hour in the studio a time to look forward to, just as Kathryn once did (and still does!!) for me. I am grateful to the client I spoke to for reminding me of that feeling I had when I was a client, and for showing me that I am not the only person to have felt that way. I believe that what makes our studio special is that feeling we have when we walk in the door; that we are going to spend some time doing something we really enjoy and that we know is important to our well-being, with people we care about, like, and respect. I hope that as a teacher I can communicate not only the movement, but also the abiding joy in the practice and in the sense of community – just as Kathryn taught me.

I am fortunate to be in our beautiful studio with my wonderful colleagues every day now. Especially I am fortunate to have great clients coming through our doors to teach and to learn from. Each is unique and special in her, or his, own special way. They meet their lives head on, with courage, grace, and boundless good humor. Their stories are amazing and often quite humbling. In future blog posts and newsletters, we hope to introduce you to some of them and to tell you something about them.

What a great job I have. I take my shoes off when I get to work! And the very best people in the world come through the door to see me every day.

My Passion for Pilates

by Kathryn Russell

I hadn’t taken very many Pilates classes when I began to notice how differently I moved and how strong I felt.  I simply wore my body differently and that feeling made me feel confident and powerful.  The longer I took classes the more I loved Pilates with a thoroughly unexpected passion.  After a couple of years, my husband began to encourage me to quit my job and get certified to teach Pilates.  In spite of the fact that I had been talking aboutPilates for two years, I was thunderstruck at the idea that this passion could become my JOB. Suddenly there was a silly grin on my face that I couldn’t seem to wipe off. It’s still there.

So much has happened since then. I worked at a studio in Huntington Harbour for two years and then moved to another part of the Harbour to open my own. But those are just the business details. The amazing part of this story is the people I have met along the way. And the privilege of watching them discover how Pilates changes their bodies. And watching the silly grin appear on their faces.

People come to Pilates studios for a lot of reasons – flexibility, toning, core strength…the list is a long one. But I was surprised by the large number of people who come specifically for pain relief. Many come to help rehab an injured or painful low back, knee, hip…  But in addition I found people coming to find relief from syndromes that cannot be exercised away. These people came with chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia. This was very different than the work that I did to help people out of low back pain, or to improve movement in a knee or hip after surgery. These clients responded well to the Pilates method and report feeling better, but I wanted to be sure that I was doing all I could to help them in the management of their pain.   

To better understand fibromyalgia and other chronic pain syndromes Marilyn Koval, an instructor at the studio, and I turned to my husband who is a chiropractor in a pain management clinic. He shared his experience and his wealth of knowledge on this subject and helped us more fully understand chronic pain. He armed us with a great deal of research and for the past year we have been working together to develop a system to work with this population based on the research and our experience with our own clients.  

Chronic pain is a terrible burden that sabotages sleep, makes movement feel risky and chips away at a person’s sense of power and strength. When working with this population I am constantly reminded of the sense of power Pilates gave me when it taught me to wear my body differently. That is my goal for all of my clients with chronic pain.