Looking into the new year, one might want to consider a kinder, gentler approach for taking the body from flab to fab.
For those burnt out by bootcamps, not feeling the weight lifting vibe or just ready to try something less strenuous, Pilates may be the answer.
This whole-body exercise was first founded by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. The idea of using exercises which coordinate movement and breath together with an emphasis on core work.
“He worked with injured people first to rehabilitate them,” Studio V Pilates owner Victoria Popoff shared. “So, it was definitely the mind body connection. Getting muscles to contract and control a little bit more.”
A seasoned Pilates student, with 16-plus years of reaping the benefits of the exercise, Popoff also recently celebrated 10 years of business in her Modesto-based Pilates studio at 4459 Spyres Way, Suite A.
Popoff shared that the 209 Pilates studio is the largest of its kind within a 100-mile radius. The 7,000 square foot area hosts separate fitness space, as well as a designated space filled with reformer machines.
“We do have 10 machines now,” Popoff said of the 209 studio. “Now we have space. Everyone’s eight feet apart and actually they like this better.”
Changes which were prompted by the COVID pandemic have proven to be perfect for the clients, as well as the practice of Pilates using the reformer machines.
“Pilates is focused practice on control, concentration, centering precision, and your breathing is inhale exhale,” explained Popoff.
Pilates is a practice which can be done by individuals of all ages, sizes and physical ability. While it can be done on a mat, in a chair, just about anywhere, it is most known for the Pilates reformer. This is the most used piece of Pilates equipment which is adaptable for a full variety of users, from beginner to challenging for the fitness enthusiast.
“A lot of things in yoga you might hold, you might stay in a position for a long time,” the studio owner said of the commonly compared practice. “There’s different types of yoga, and I would say that’s more related to a spiritual practice; that’s where that came from. This doesn’t have any religious ties … Pilates, it’s really the healing of the body and creating symmetry through the body is really what they want.
“Symmetry is the biggest thing and people don’t think, why does my hip hurt so bad,” she continued. “Well, there’s an imbalance somewhere in the body.”
Popoff’s classes have been modified to 45 minutes to allow for proper cleaning of the studio in between sessions. Yet given the resistance of the machines and the type of movements, that time frame is more than enough for a client to get in a good and effective workout.
“In 45 minutes you’re still getting a warm up, you’re still getting a total body workout, and a cool down,” she said. “Working with resistance and no impact, the body can do this every day.”
For weight loss, the fitness expert recommends following a proper nutrition plan, as well as combining their Pilates practice with another activity, such as walking.
“It’s nice to have something else to combine this with,” Popoff noted. “You are going to get strength, flexibility coordination control, but if you have a lot that you really want to lose, pairing it with healthy foods, more walking and Pilates, you’re going to have better results.”
With over two decades in the fitness business, Popoff confided that Pilates and the positive effects it has on the body was a pleasant surprise. Admitting to being an endorphin junkie early on, the practice of Pilates was a welcome surprise.
“I’ll tell you in the beginning, I really didn’t think it was going to be that hard. I was like what is this stretching, like what am I doing on this thing, this isn’t anything,” she said. “You don’t know until you get going and then you get on the machine and you’re like, Oh!
“The next day is when you really feel like what muscles are these?” she continued. “So, you definitely notice different things in your body you never have. You become very aware of how you’re sitting, how you’re standing, because it puts those muscles back where they belong.”
The studio owner further shared, it was the success of a client 16 years ago, which not only kept her going in her personal practice, but professional dedication as well.
“He lost over 100 pounds,” she said of her inspiration. “He was trying to work out, to eat well, drink more water, lower his stress levels, walk more and I thought, you can’t lose weight on this thing.
“Watching his progress over a year, and he was able to lose 100 pounds, and he combined it with a lot of other exercises too but I could see his entire posture change, and I was like, this is like magic,” Popoff said. “You’ve just got to get on it. You’ve just got to do it at least twice, three times a week. You can feel it in your muscles but it’s not like I can’t walk.”
And those coming to the studio for a workout can be sure of the focus.
“It’s not like you’re going to do burpees in here, we’re not going to run around the building,” she continued. “We’re going to do Pilates, and we’re going to work in a different way, it’s a little slower paced sometimes but it makes your mind have to focus and pull and contract and lengthen through your body, once you get on (a reformer) you totally feel it.”
In addition to the physical benefits, the Pilates studio owner shared the mental benefits for the individual are just as noticeable.
“It’s their persona, it opens up,” she said, noting clients have been known to build friendships post class. “Their social network grows, their community, they feel welcome somewhere, they feel accepted somewhere. That’s when I was like oh gosh this is more than just a workout.”
For more specific information on classes and services offered at Studio V Pilates visit studiovpilates.com.
“It’s how you feel when you’re done,” Popoff summarized of what she loves most about the practice of Pilates. “You’re taller; you feel happier, and I don’t know how to explain that. Maybe just the endorphins, but your body feels better, everywhere, your muscles feel engaged, the blood is flowing through your body. You just feel happier when you’re done, and the longevity of it, you could do this every day and not do the same exercise ever. I mean there’s tens of thousands of exercises on this machine. So, the workouts are never the same. I just became addicted to that feeling.”