What exactly is Pilates and why is it beneficial?

Pilates is an exercise system developed by Joseph Pilates, who opened his studio in NYC after he arrived from Germany around 1926. He called his system Contrology because he believed that your muscles can be controlled by your mind with special emphasis on the muscles of the core. There is also focus on using postural muscles, awareness and breath to improve and strengthen the alignment of the spine.

All of these aspects of Pilates are important for full body health. Pilates helps you with everything you do every day.

What’s your personal experience with Pilates? How has it benefited you?

I love Pilates and it always feel like the best thing I can do for my body. Even a little bit of the Pilates method can help everything feel so much better. 

When I first started doing Pilates, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I was very strong but I was not very stable in my movement and I was somewhat imbalanced in my body. I have scoliosis so Pilates is critical for me. I must do it to feel good, to feel balanced.

How many styles are there, and which one do you teach?

This is an interesting question and if you ask another Pilates teacher they may have a completely different answer. There are those devotees of The Pilates Studio who will say their Pilates is the only real Pilates. I disagree.

I would break this down into Classical Pilates, Fletcher Pilates and Contemporary Pilates.

Classical Pilates follows the concepts and exercise system as Joseph Pilates taught it. 

Fletcher Pilates was founded by Ron Fletcher, one of the original Pilates teachers. He does follow much of the Pilates system but he has a specific percussive breath pattern that is unique to Fletcher Pilates. He also has added some exercises that are more dance based.

Contemporary Pilates teachers take some of the Pilates concepts and integrate them in a different way into movement. 

I teach Classical Pilates!

How many years have you been teaching Pilates?

I have been teaching Pilates for more than 20 years. I first became certified to teach mat which I did for several years and then became certified to teach on the apparatus in 1999.

Which Pilates teachers inspire you?

I have been privileged to work with many wonderful teachers. I love the teaching of Peter Roel, Phoebe Higgins, David Brown, they gave me a fabulous foundation and continue to inspire me. I love the work of Michele Larsen, Lolita San Miguel, Kathy Corey, Kelly Kane and Jillian Hessel to mention just a few. All of these teachers are in different parts of the country and have studied with the Elders, the original Pilates teachers. 

I look forward to taking workshops with them anytime I can.

How has your teaching changed since you started teaching and why?

 I certainly hope it has gotten better! 

What I think that has changed for me is that I have more experience that gives me confidence to work with anyone with injuries. I think my teaching has become more concise , I talk less but am very specific to the exercise and person.

For anyone who has never tried Pilates but want to give it a go, what would you be your advice?

I think that for anyone coming to Pilates the first time should not expect to do everything perfectly or be able to do everything. It is important to communicate to your teacher any physical issues you may have or if any of the exercises are causing discomfort. Exercises can be modified or it may even not be appropriate for you at this time. I think everyone should do Pilates and communication is key.

Theresa Conlon

Theresa is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor (200-hour RYT) who has been teaching since 2013. She is skilled in various yoga styles including Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Meditation. Theresa also brings an extensive dance background to her yoga practice, which includes teaching both modern dance and ballet. She has over 40 years of dance/theater performing experience and currently showcases her choreography as part of Bergen Dance Makers, a dance collective in northern New Jersey. Theresa’s yoga classes offer a calming mix of traditional asana postures and creative movement flows, supported by energy-moving breath. Students of all skill levels are invited to find ease and peace in their bodies/minds/spirits through the joyful bliss of yoga movement.

Carrie Parker Gastelu

Carrie Parker Gastelu, E-500 RYT, has been teaching yoga since 1993. Carrie began her journey when Yogi Raj Mani Finger initiated Carrie into the ISHTA Yoga lineage after training with Mani’s son, Yogi Raj Alan Finger. In addition, she has studied many other yoga traditions as well as anatomy, physiology, movement, and awareness practices to create an eclectic style all her own. She is known for her honest, non-dogmatic yet passionate approach.

Carrie is a regular speaker and contributor at conferences, websites, and print publications and has been featured in Fit Magazine, the Yoga Zone Book, and in the Yoga Zone Video, “Flexibility and Stress Release.”

Lisa Podesta-Coombs

When Lisa found yoga in 2008, she started to find herself again and it set her on a path of health and healing. She received her 200HR RYT certification from Raji Thron of Yoga Synthesis, and her 30HR Chakra Yoga Teacher Training certificate with Anodea Judith and holds a Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) certification. She is also a Holistic Health Coach (certified through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition). Lisa believes we’re all on a journey of learning how to trust ourselves; she helps her clients build that trust by supporting them in creating better habits for a better life through various functional movement modalities like yoga, barre, Pilates & strength training, mindset, and whole food nutrition.

Forever a student with a passion for people, holistic health, and self-actualization, Lisa is always embracing opportunities to advance her education to better serve; Ayurveda workshops & immersions have been of particular interest as she continues to deepen her knowledge of and experience with food as medicine and she recently completed Unleash Her Power Within, a transformational program of rediscovering our truest selves, powered by Tony Robbins.  

As she continues to give herself space and grace to nourish her natural self and actualize her potential, Lisa continues to share the gift of movement as medicine to inspire authenticity & health in body, mind, and spirit. You can expect mindful, accessible, dynamic, playful, and uplifting classes from Lisa.

Tanisha Sutton

Tanisha’s yoga journey began when she was an undergraduate student studying at university. Changes in her health coupled with anxiety over grades, relationships, and life in general, forced her to search for healthy lifestyle choices she could implement to help manage the stress that she was experiencing as a new adult. A friend of hers suggested that she attend some community yoga classes to help with the anxiety and increase her daily physical activity. Initially, she was reluctant and filled with all these false ideas about yoga and the people who practiced yoga. Like many others, she was concerned that her body type and lack of flexibility automatically excluded her from being a student. Curiously yet hesitantly, she journeyed on to her first class and began laying the foundation for a home and public practice that has supported her over the years.

On this journey, she has discovered that yoga has nothing to do with appearances nor is there anything, but an open mind needed to begin. She intends to provide you with a gentle yoga session that is safe, inclusive, and accessible. Her classes are an expression of self-love and are a deliberate choice to tend to ALL the parts of our being that are neglected, ignored, or disregarded during the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Through meditation, deep breathing, and gentle movement we will collectively share space to observe, rest and re-set. Tanisha is honored to share her practice with you and looks forward to seeing you on the mat!