1. How did you get into practicing Pilates?
I started taking my first mat classes in a Philadelphia gym in the early 2000’s—a few years before Madonna sang that terrible song that nobody really remembers. (Hint: American Life). The teacher was a total drill sergeant who wore a headset standing on a raised platform. Of course, I thought I was really good because I could keep my legs up in the air while holding onto my ankles. I would find out later how wrong it is to approach the work from the way the exercise looks externally—you don’t build a deep core connection by showing off! But I was like 25 years old so what did I know?
2. How did you get into teaching Pilates?
I started thinking seriously about teaching Pilates after finishing my degree in dance from The University of Wisconsin—Madison. The program placed a strong emphasis on anatomy and biomechanics —dance majors study with actual cadavers and take courses in movement pedagogy and somatics. To become a teacher, I was mentored by a truly gifted practitioner who I continue to admire immensely. Collette Stewart helped me learn about the internal dynamics of the movement—how to hold space in a grounded and supportive way—so that the work is deep—the deeper, the better—and you don’t have to bark out orders frenetically in order to build those strong connections.
3. What’s your favorite Pilates exercise to teach?
I love teaching twist and reach on the short box because it involves rotational strength and the generation of power through the spine. Everyone who takes sessions with me eventually learns how to find connections to their internal and external obliques—we focus on how to really rotate from the spine and ribcage—rather than just the limbs—and, most importantly, how to reverse that work to come strongly through center.
It’s that drive that makes every virtuosic athletic feat possible—think golf, tennis, baseball—even the preparation of a ballet dancer before pirouetting. It propels us forward when we walk and run. These exercises are hard to do—for many years I struggled with rotation—which is why I’ve worked so hard to get better at it and how to cue people so they really feel strong in the twist.
4. What do you love most about Pilates for your clients?
I think every Pilates session offers the clients such a range of movement—you are literally work head to toe in every session. Its the range—the breadth and depth of the work—that seems to create the most positive impact. There are immense physical and cognitive benefits to doing such a wide variety of exercises. I’m hooked on Pilates—so I can’t help but be moved when others say how good it makes them feel. Even when it gets hard—and it will get hard for everyone because the system is so evolved that we all eventually meet our match in terms of what we can’t quite do maintaining good form. We then learn how to back away from that edge in order to truly progress. I also love that clients at The Center Studio get to use what I consider the best and most beautiful equipment—big props to Gratz and the late, great Basil.
5. What activities do you enjoy when you’re not in the studio?
Before my brief life as a dancer in Wisconsin, I studied Art History. I love the museums in the city and try to see as much as I can when I’m not working. How cool is it that I can walk through the park after my shift at the JCC and spend an hour or two at The Met? I am very much like most people and love work that exhibits technical excellence and various degrees of virtuosity—but I also love artwork that is odd, quirky and challenging.