My Love Affair with Pilates

Melissa Penn

Senior Instructor -- Equilibrium Pilates Studio & Cecchetti Instructor and Ballet Company Co-Director -- Main Stage Center for the Arts

My love affair with Pilates began around 2005. I was a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old at home and two children in elementary school. I was constantly running around with the kids so it was a challenge fitting in a workout. At the time, I belonged to a gym so I often went to classes that were packed with tons of people. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t working with proper form and if I wasn’t, no one was watching to correct me. Most of the time, I threw on my running shoes and went for a quick run while I had someone around to watch the kids.

Over time, I began having lower back pain, pain in my hip and pain shooting down my leg. I was often miserable living with the pain, but I kept on doing what I knew — running and the occasional class. It was easy and convenient. The last straw came when upon getting up one morning, I felt excruciating pain in my lower back to the point I was nauseated. That scared me! I contacted my doctor and eventually ended up in physical therapy for bulging discs in my lower lumbar and sacral region.

After weeks of therapy, my therapist told me to pursue Pilates for exercise — no more running! He told me he didn’t even like the idea of me walking as a form of exercise. I wasn’t familiar with Pilates. I searched for a studio in my area and started taking classes. I immediately loved Pilates! All of the equipment and the uniqueness of every workout fascinated me. Gradually, I learned about proper form, breathing effectively and the mind/body connection. My core became stronger and my aches and pains disappeared.

I was a client of Pilates for about 3 years before considering teacher training. I knew Pilates would always be a part of my life, and I wanted to pass along my passion to others. I have been teaching for almost a decade! I have learned so much from my clients about the benefits of Pilates and staying active. I have clients that are in their 80’s, and they constantly tell me what a huge blessing regular Pilates exercise has been for them. I have also worked with clients healing from injuries and surgeries and watched as they gradually improved their strength and range of motion.

I’m passionate about Pilates as a safe form of exercise you can do (and should do!) forever from now until dead. Your workouts can be modified depending on your injuries and your illnesses, your strengths and weaknesses; your mental state of mind, whatever the case. For me, Pilates is a positive love affair that will last forever!

Amy Shelata