“Equilibrium changed my life…” A testimonial from Andrea Schins

Dear Nancy,

I wanted to write you a note to say thank you for the wonderful services that are provided at Equilibrium and to let you know how much I value the great instructors I have worked with.

In July of 2011, I was diagnosed with grade II spondylolisthesis of my 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. Spondylolisthesis is a condition in which a vertebra in the spine slips out of proper position onto the bone below it, most often due to a fracture in the vertebra.  In my case, I had a fracture in my 4th lumbar vertebra causing it to slip forward over my 5th lumbar vertebra.  I have no idea what caused this fracture.  Commonly they are caused by a congenital weakness in the bone.  Nor do I know how long I had this condition prior to being diagnosed.  It is not uncommon for this condition to be asymptomatic for a long time before the pressure on the spinal nerves becomes enough that it causes pain.  In my case, I went to bed one night feeling fine and woke up the next morning with severe lower back pain and sciatic pain radiating down my left leg.  Additionally, by the time I had a MRI and was diagnosed, my condition had already progressed so that I had no disc left between the two bones.  Therefore, my vertebrae were bone on bone, adding to the challenge of managing the condition and addressing the pain.  To say that this diagnoses negatively impacted my daily activities is an understatement.  I have always been very active (running, weight lifting, skiing, golf) person and now I was unable to do many of the activities I enjoyed due to pain.  At that time, my son was only 3 years old and I was unable to run after him and play as I much as I was used to because of the pain.  My doctor and I opted to treat this condition conservatively which involved a series of steroid injections, daily pain medications and exercise.  My goal was to postpone the need for a spinal fusion surgery.  Spinal fusion surgery is a big procedure with a very prolonged recovery time typically.  I was told to stop doing high level aerobic activity and to strengthen my core.  I spent the next few months doing a lot of walking and following a body weight training program at home.  While this treatment helped, I had to take pain medications multiple times a day in order to keep the pain levels down.

Fast forward to 2012.  My husband and I relocated back to Michigan.  I was in a position to work part time from home and decided that I needed to focus on my health, addressing my back condition and the pain I was experiencing.  I started coming to Equilibrium in October 2012 and I am very comfortable in saying it has changed my life J  I have felt welcomed from the moment I first walked into the studio.  I started taking group exercise classes and also taking a private Pilates lesson once a week.  Every instructor I worked with was helpful in assisting me in modifying exercises so that I did not cause additional injury to my back.  Over my first few months of coming, I started to feel better.  I could tell that I was getting stronger and that my flexibility was slowly increasing.  Most importantly, I was able to significantly decrease that amount of pain medication I was taking.  Prior to starting Pilates, I was taking pain medication multiple times a day.  After a few months, I was able to only need pain medication once a day and frequently I was able to not need any pain meds at all.  This was just huge for me!

This success continued until early this year.  In February, I started to experience a significant increase in lower back pain as well as numbness and tingling down both legs.  My MRI showed that my ‘slip’ had progressed and was now causing more pressure on my spinal nerves.  Bottom line, I was now heading to surgery.  While this was the only option I had left, I was very nervous.  While I was waiting for surgery, I let my instructors know what was happening.  Again, everyone was great at helping me modify exercises as needed so that I could continue to come to Pilates and participate.  Coming to class was a stress relief for me and it helped me address the pain I was having.  I also wanted to make sure that I could keep up my strength and flexibility, to the best of my ability, prior to surgery.

I had a L4-L5 spinal fusion surgery on April 24th.  I was expecting a prolonged and challenging recovery period as that is what I was told is typical.  I am very happy to report that my recovery has been the complete opposite!  I immediately started a daily walking program, progressing from 2 miles a day at 4 days post op to 5 miles a day by my 6 week checkup.  My doctor was astounded at my progress.  He felt that the strength and flexibility I had gained from Pilates was a reason why I was doing so well and he cleared me to start back at Pilates, very slowly increasing my activities over the next several weeks.  He said I was doing so well that I did not need physical therapy and that I could use my Pilates classes as PT.  On my way home from that doctors appointment, I stopped at Equilibrium and got on the schedule to start with some private Pilates classesJ  It has now been 12 weeks since my surgery.  I have slowly progressed in my classes and am now almost up to the activity level I was at prior to surgery.  Every instructor I have worked with has been great at helping me modify exercises so that I can participate in the activities.  While I will always need to modify certain exercises due to my spinal mobility, I am very confident that I will be up to full strength over the next few weeks and I am looking forward to continued improvement over the next several months. My pain is almost totally gone.  I still have some stiffness and tenderness right at the surgical site and occasionally, I still get some nerve pain in my left leg.  The doctor said this should continue to improve over the next few months as the nerves slowly heal.  However, I can now control my pain by taking a Tylenol and many days I need no pain medication at all.

I firmly believe that the strength and flexibility I have gained in Pilates is the main reason why my recovery has been so strong.  I am just thrilled with my progress and can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciate the quality of classes and instructors that are provided at Equilibrium.  A very special thanks goes to Jen, Amy P., Liz and Kristin.  Without those ladies, I don’t think I would have progressed as far as quickly.  Thanks so much for all that you offer!

~Andrea Schins

Andrea on the Cadillac during a private post surgery.

Andrea on the Cadillac during a private pilates session post surgery.

Upcoming Workshops…For ALL Fitness Professionals

Ready to take your training and instruction to the next level?

Take our upcoming workshops this September and October!

Regardless of your area of fitness, you will benefit from these 2 hour sessions with Master trainers. Earn CECs for many organizations including STOTT and ACE.

Lead Instructor Trainer for Stott Pilates and a professor of Physical Therapy, KIM DUNLEAVY returns to Michigan for TWO days ONLY

Kim Dunleavy

Saturday, September 6th: 

11-1pm Stabilization Principles
1:30-3:30 pm Secret to Strong Back
4-6pm Programming for Osteoporosis Management

Sunday, September 7th:

8:30-10:30am Postural Analysis & Application to Pilates Exercise
10:30-12:30pm Knee Stability & Function
1-3pm Prenatal Pilates w/ Stability Ball & Flex Band

*Each workshop is $100 and earns 0.2 CECs. If you purchase all 3 workshops in a day, you will receive a 10% discount and pay $270.*

Offered only a couple times a year: Workshops in Ann Arbor at MOVE Wellness with STOTT Instructor Trainer, AIMEE MCDONALD-ANDERSON


Saturday, October 11th

11a-1pm Matwork Toning Ball Workshop
1:30-3:30pm Athletic Conditioning on the Cardio Tramp
4-6pm Reformer and Padded Platform Extender

*Each workshop is $85 and earns you 0.2 CECs per workshop.
EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Purchase all 3 workshops at Move with Amy Anderson before September 12th for $225 or one for 10% off ($76.50).*


Click this link or call 248.723.6500 to enroll!

Look for equilibrium studio in the new issue of Leisure Lifestyle.

Have you seen the new issue of Leisure Lifestyle for Bloomfield Hills? Equilibrium is featured on page 1 and is listed as a preferred vendor for fitness, wellness and golf & tennis conditioning!


What being a Lululemon Ambassador means to me…

Lululemon clothing has been at the top of my birthday wish list for many years now…it started as comfortable clothing I could wear to class or around campus in college but quickly became something much bigger…my work wardrobe. I wake up and put it on every morning. I rely on it to not only flatter my figure but also to help me perform while I teach and move. I count on it to hold up after many wears and sweaty workouts. It’s my uniform!

For me in the beginning, like any customer, Lululemon was a store and a brand. Their athletic gear fit me the best, plus the colors, styles and variety made me feel like I was dressing up to exercise so it became the place I shopped. It was a website I would visit to browse the newest items…

Now, Lululemon has developed into a community I belong to, a family of friends that I care for, and a place to promote all aspects of leading a healthy life.

Since moving back to Michigan from Chicago, I have been constantly looking for ways to connect in the community. My job at Equilibrium has offered me many wonderful opportunities to do this through events, classes, community outreach and more. One of those events was teaching an in-store Xtend Barre class at Lululemon in Birmingham. I was thrilled by the opportunity to lead the community is this class. Not only was it a successful and fun class but also a great way to meet many of the store employees. That experience back in March has lead me to building wonderful relationships with their team.

Last Thursday, I was honored, humbled and shocked to be asked to be the newest Ambassador at Lululemon Athletica Old Woodward. The team in Birmingham asked me to coordinate a Shop Night for Equilibrium’s staff. I, of course, jumped on the opportunity because who wouldn’t want to get together with the best co-workers to chat, snack and shop…in their favorite store?! Little did I know, I was setting myself up for a major surprise.

When the store’s Community Leader, Nikki, starting speaking, I was moved by her words to our team. I was listening intently as she welcomed us, never expecting to hear…”Sarah, will you be our ambassador?” I honestly can’t remember what my exact response was, although I do know how moved I felt. As tears welled up in my eyes and hugs were given all around, I felt truly blessed and honored.

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Lululemon is more than a store. It is a brand that works hard to develop relationships and create partnerships in the community. While thinking about aligning myself with this brand, I am struck by what an important aspect of my life that is. I love being active, I love teaching classes, I love trying new exercises…but what I really love about my job is the ability to have an impact in someone’s life. I thrive off of sharing my knowledge of health and wellness with others. I take great pride in seeing my clients reach their goals. I strive to help each and every person I work with achieve the results they want. My work doesn’t feel like work because it is my passion.

It is with such pleasure and humility that I accept and look forward to my role as an Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica Old Woodward.

In good health,

Sarah Willoughby

Challenger 1 Month Update…Congratulations on your progress!

Our 3-month Studio Fitness Class Challengers have reached their one month mark! Combined Nicole and Tasha took 40 classes in 30 days! They have been dedicated to their workouts and their health. Both challengers have pushed themselves our of their comfort zone by trying new classes. They take HIIT55, Total Body Conditioning and Xtend Barre weekly. All of the instructors are impressed with the hard work they are putting in to reach their goals. We can’t wait to continue to see progress over the next two months.

Here is an update from Nicole:

“One month down, two to go!  My first month as a 3-Month Challenger has been spectacular.  Working out has now become a habit as opposed to a chore.  It is something I look forward to each and every day.  I am energized and so committed to living a healthy lifestyle.  I have committed to coming to class 5 times a week, sometimes even doing “two-a-days”.

I have now added HIIT55 to my workout regime.  It was hard in the beginning mainly because I lacked stamina, but also because my body just wouldn’t allow me to do certain things.  But what I’ve found over this past month is that it gets easier.  Don’t get me wrong-the class is TOUGH, but I find that my endurance has increased, and I’m more aware of my body than I ever have been.

Working out at Equilibrium has been an absolute dream.  After a month, I now recognize the faces and some of the names of the “regulars”.  I have to say, that the support they have shown me from day one is an absolute inspiration.  After all, if they think I can do it, how can I not???  There are so many parallels between the mind and body.  As my body becomes stronger, so does my mind.  This month has bred so much positivity –I have gained confidence, and developed a new lease on life…

I am in a place of strength, power, peace, and happiness.”

Nicole at her 1 month mark before HIIT55! She looks amazing!

Nicole at her 1 month mark before HIIT55! She looks amazing!

Here is an update from Tasha:

“One month into the challenge and my posture is already improved and my strength and endurance already increased. At shows I am no longer completely annihilated from exhaustion during the last set and no longer suffer from back strain from moving gear. I’m feeling awesome and so excited about finding something I can get some real results from and enjoy!”

Tasha before a show in Birmingham looking strong and confident!

Tasha before a show in Birmingham looking strong and confident!

Congratulations on your progress ladies! Keep up the good work! We can’t wait to hear from you again next month!

Congratulations to our Summer Studio Class Challengers!

Congratulations Nicole & Tasha, Equilibrium’s Summer 3-month Challengers!

 We are so excited to announce the newest studio fitness challengers! We have picked two outstanding women to represent Equilibrium with their presence in class, posts on social media and updates on this blog. For the next 3-months, Nicole and Tasha will receive free classes to help them achieve their health and fitness goals. The entire staff at Equilibrium looks forward to supporting, Nicole and Tasha, to reach and even exceed their goals.

The Summer Studio Fitness Challenge starts TODAY and will run until September 16th. Meet the challengers below and be sure to cheer them on at the studio. They will be working hard to see results! 



Nicole started attending classes at Equilibrium recently and fell in love with Xtend Barre. Not only has she already dropped pounds, she also notices that her clothes fit better and she wants to eat healthier foods. Nicole has been on a long journey of trying many different workouts, diets and eating habits to find the right one. She has had success with certain programs but due to life’s curve balls hasn’t been able to successfully maintain balance and a healthy weight. She is ready! Nicole has 3 children, including twin boys and a teenage girl. She has made them her priority for many years and is now ready to do something for herself.

Nicole states, “In January I took a position with one of the top law firms in Michigan and love doing what I do. Relationships are key—but we all know relationships are affected by how we feel about ourselves. I have looked at my strengths, gained confidence, and developed a new lease on life…but there is one piece that is missing…my body needs to reflect my essence. I tried boxing at a gym, but it wasn’t my “cup of tea”. Then a friend suggested that I give Xtend a try. And what a gift that was. I am in a place of power, happiness & love so I think I’d fit the bill as Studio Challenger!”





Tasha’s first visit to the studio was in October 2008. Since then she has attended classes every year, but hasn’t kept up with a consistent workout schedule. Tasha is an amazing performer and expends lots of energy during a show, but doesn’t have the strength, endurance or “look” to match her powerful voice. She is ready for her image on the outside to match how she feels on the inside.

Tasha says, “With my day job I have become horribly out of shape and that is one of the primary reasons I have to leave my day job-To get my health together. I have scoliosis so Pilates is actually the very best workout for me! If I keep up the way I have been going, it’s only a matter of time before I become seriously injured on stage. Also, at 33 the only way I am going to get more than a few more years out of this is by getting myself in tip top condition. I have committed myself to 4 workouts a week minimum starting June 1 and have also begun changing my diet.”


Both challengers will be tracking their workouts on a chart and can support & challenge each other to stick to their commitment and their goals. We can’t wait to continue to watch & support you on this journey! Good luck Nicole and Tasha! 


The arrival of Xtend Barre Babies on Board!

Xtend Barre Babies on Board at Equilibrium

We love having new moms and their babies in the studio for the incredible Xtend Barre Babies on Board class! During this 45-minute class, moms workout with their baby in a bjorn or sling and then spend time during floor work with the baby on the mat or in their arms. The moms get through a total body workout with a warm-up, arm exercises, time at the bar for the lower body and abdominal work on the mat.

The babies love being close to mom, bouncing & swaying during plies and curtsys, and listening to the music. The moms love the convenience of bringing their little one with them while they do something for themselves and their health. Additionally, the class has the benefit of two experienced instructors to help them stay safe and get the most out of the positions.

This class runs for 6-weeks with the same group, allowing moms to bond with each other by sharing stories and advice. If you know someone with a new baby who would be interested in the opportunity to take this class next session, please contact sarah@equilibriumstudio.com.

See below for pictures of the first two classes:

The whole group bonding after class

The whole group bonding after class

We love having so many boys at the barre

We love having so many boys at the barre


Moms doing push-up kisses with their babies


Moms doing push-up kisses with their babies

Moms doing push-up kisses with their babies

Moms doing push-up kisses with their babies

Curtsy warm-up with weights for a little extra

Curtsy warm-up with weights for a little extra

Workout at the barre for the hamstrings and glutes

Workout at the barre for the hamstrings and glutes

Floor fold over series for abdominal stability and glute work

Floor foldover series for abdominal stability and glute work

Floor fold over series for abdominal stability and glute work

Floor foldover series for abdominal stability and glute work


Future Xtend Barre client

Future Xtend Barre client


No Ordinary Fitness Bar…ActivMotion Bar

You may have seen trainers and clients using a new piece of equipment in the studio this week. These new fitness bars are called ActivMotion Bars and they are not your ordinary fitness bar. One third of the weight moves around inside creating a multi-sensory experience. The movement generates momentum to challenge balance and stability in the core.

Equilibrium instructors attended a workshop last weekend with the founder and creator of the product, Derek. At the workshop, the Equilibrium team learned about the ActivMotion system, worked out with Derek and created new exercises using the principals of Pilates. Our elite group of instructors found new ways to incorporate the bars on the reformers, in group classes and in private sessions.

Take a look at our instructors using ActivMotion Bars here:

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UPDATE: Winter Challenger Couple…Congratulations!

 Remember our challenger couple, Monisha and Manish? 

We have updates on both of them about their experience taking classes at Equilibrium this winter, as well as working with Wellness Coach, Sarah Willoughby.


Monisha became a regular clients during her 3-months as a challenger. She took full advantage of the variety of classes we offer, attending Total Body Conditioning, HIIT55, Xtend Barre, Reformer, and 100% Pilates! Mo even did back to back classes on a regular basis! Hear directly from Mo about what she experienced:

“Wow! I can’t believe the 3-month challenge is over.  I’m really sad about it.  The last 3 months had its ups and downs.  For the most part I tried to stick with the minimum of  3-4 classes a week, but with board exams and trying to graduate dental school on time I fell off the wagon a few times.  I loved all the classes I’ve taken especially Hit55 and Total Body Conditioning.  I’m a lot stronger.  I can actually hold a plank for more than 10 seconds!!! I see a lot more muscle tone and my stamina has increased tremendously.   Doing the nutritional classes with Sarah has also helped me learn about my body and how my body processes food and what types of foods will give me the best energy.  I’m so thankful for Equilibrium Studio for giving me this opportunity to jumpstart a healthy way of living and being more active!”

Monisha’s husband, Manish, was also a challenger. With his incredibly busy schedule as a doctor, Manish struggled to get 4 classes in per week but when he made it in to the studio he felt amazing! Even with personal schedule challenges he still attended lots of different types of classes and talks about the benefits and his plans moving forward in his wonderfully open and honest testimonial:

“The challenge was a great experience for me as well, although I definitely failed to accomplish what I had set out to do. After initially starting pretty strong for about the first month, I slowed to probably about 2 classes per week for a couple more weeks, and I think for the last month of the challenge haven’t made any classes. Basically, things became extremely busy at work, and I have just been constantly working for the last half of the challenge, and have just not been able to make the classes. In the first 4-6 weeks of the challenge, even when work was busy during the week, I was able to get in classes on the weekends, but of course wedding season has started, and we’ve been out of town on the weekends, so I haven’t been able to get the classes in then either.

I actually really enjoyed all the classes I was able to attend, and I can definitely tell the difference in my overall strength, and stamina levels since I have stopped attending. Sarah hears me complain about my weight not changing all the time during our nutrition classes, but although it may not have changed, the composition of my body certainly has since I have stopped attending classes, during the first 6 weeks, I certainly noticed a difference in the “shape” of my torso, with an overall “leaner” appearance, and currently my mid-section has definitely loosened up a bit. I really loved the TBC classes, especially on Saturday mornings, as you begin to see the regulars, and its just such a high energy class and you really feel that you have accomplished something by 9am on Saturday morning, a time when I would probably just be “lazing” in bed.

I was only able to attend a few of the nutrition sessions with Sarah, but have actually implemented many of her suggestions, and I will be the first to admit, I’m a very difficult client from a nutrition perspective, but she has really helped us begin on the path towards being more aware of what we put in our bodies.

The experience has been great, and I really appreciate Equilibrium for allowing us this opportunity, and I think at the very least, we have started on a path towards being healthier…and maybe by the end of the year I’ll be giving Ron a run for his money!!”

Monisha and Manish, we are proud of you for working hard in class and in your Wellness Coaching sessions! You are on a great path to health and success! Congratulations!

Interested in being the next challenger? We are looking for our summer challengers RIGHT NOW! Email nancy@equilibriumstudio.com with your story and goals for a chance to receive 3-months of free classes in exchange for pictures, updates, posts and testimonials. 

Congratulations to challenger & bride-to-be, Sarah!

Our Winter 3-month Xtend Barre Challenge just ended and we have some wonderful updates on our three challengers to share with you…Read below for our first update!

Remember our bride-to-be, Sarah? This was Sarah before the challenge in a push-up:

Sarah's February push-up : sinking in her core, hips and chest.

Sarah’s February push-up : sinking in her core, hips and chest.

Before Sarah began taking classes regularly, she struggled to complete one push-up. Her core and hips were sinking and her chest was caving in. She didn’t have a large range and couldn’t hold a plank position for very long. LOOK at Sarah NOW:

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While Sarah was already a healthy weight before  the challenge she lacked the strength and tone she desired. Now she is SO STRONG! Sarah’s form is fabulous, using her strong core to hold her in a plank or push-up. She is able to get lower than ever in her push-ups and can hold her plank for at least a minute without a break. Sarah’s upper body is perfectly toned for her wedding day. Hear directly from Sarah about how she feels:

“My experience as the Xtend Challenger has been incredible. Not only have all of the teachers and staff at Equilibrium been so supportive of me each time I come to work out, but the results speak for themselves! I feel ready to walk down the aisle with beautiful posture thanks to the strength in both my core and upper body. I am so excited to start my marriage feeling healthy and strong and am grateful to Equilibrium for the wonderful challenge and support. I have truly enjoyed all of the unique classes and wonderful friends I’ve made throughout this process and look forward to continuing to working out at Equilibrium for many years to come.”

Sarah, we are so proud of your dedication and commitment to getting stronger and healthier! We can’t wait to see pictures of you from your big day and look forward to continuing to support you as a client at Equilibrium! Congratulations, Sarah! 



Are you also getting married soon? Equilibrium offers a special package for all brides and grooms.  Our wedding bootcamp is only $229! See below for more details and contact us to sign up TODAY! 

Wedding Boot Camp – For Brides & Grooms
2 Months Unlimited = $229 (regular price $473)
Includes PURE STOTT Reformer/Matwork and Studio Fitness Classes*
Includes 1 Private Session with a Staff Instructor