Teacher Focus Feature ~ Monika Harczuk

Tall and stunning, Monika Harczuk will get your attention just standing on the floor at FORM Pilates. Serious with a smile, Monika came to me as an instructor looking for a home to see her clients, but she has since become so much more. A good friend and coaching client, Monika sees wellness as a true mind, body, and spirit job. She is always quick to offer advice about healing food, tea, or meditation techniques. Her dreams include eventually traveling back to her home in Europe and spreading Joe Pilates’ work with her company Harmonized-me. Here’s her story:
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Monika never exercised as a teenager and was very weak and tight, but always loved ab exercises. The year was 2002 and she was living in Amsterdam and in an effort to get the most out of her gym membership she wandered into a class called “Ground Work”. It was 45 minutes of killer ab work: Monika’s favorite. After class she found out this was not your Mom’s ab workout — It was a method called Pilates. From that point on, she began her research. Back in Berlin, she could only find two Pilates studios but that didn’t stop her from traveling for her weekly private lessons and mat classes. After a year of working hard, practicing a lot, she saw what Pilates was doing for her body. Monika decided to move back to Holland and begin her teacher training program in Den Haag.
For Monika, Pilates changed everything. She never felt very connected to her physical body and the method opened up her eyes wide. Today, she loves to pass on the gift of Pilates to her own clients. She is focused, deep, and detailed in her sessions to make sure that the basics are understood and that clients develop a deep foundation. She often works with imbalances like Scoliosis and through her careful command of the Pilates technique change and growth are inevitable.
When she’s not teaching, Monika balances her schedule with doing well,…nothing. She loves having no plans and taking the day by surprise.

 

Monika wants us to remember that our body is the vehicle that carries us through life and it is important to care for it and give it our undivided attention. Having a body that is strong and healthy is the key to living your most joyful life.
Here are a couple interesting facts about Ms. Harczuk:
  • She loves listening to Eckhart Tolle
  • She is nearly vegan
  • When she has the first sip of sparkling water, she gets a hiccup
  • She speaks 3.5 languages

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Brittany Crosby

It’s no surprise that Brittany Crosby, a red haired Pilates maven, is as fiery as her locks. Don’t get her wrong though — she’s as precise in her teaching as a scalpel and will get you sweating even in her hushed tones. Her visible tattoos and a wicked sense of humor is what got my attention at first glance, but her teaching passion and ability to help others heal is what had me welcoming her with open arms to the FORM family. Here’s her story:

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Brittany, a professional dancer, got into Pilates like so many of us that teach it, through her art. Looking to improve her dance technique she started studying the method. When she realized how much mindfulness and concentration it required, she was instantly infatuated. The transition from practicing to teaching was natural. She had already been teaching dance classes off and on for years so as she got into her Pilates practice and the opportunity came up to be able to certify, she jumped on it. Learning the theory, how to practice for herself, and how to teach others just overlapped. Even now, after 10 years of teaching, it blows her mind how when you allow the work to center yourself, you can actually realign your body.

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Fascinated by anatomy and physiology, Brittany’s focus as a teacher is on rehabilitative movement for special populations. Her favorite clients are those who are post-op knee/hip replacement, rotator cuff surgery, and spinal fusion. Working with this type of clientele is really gratifying for Brittany because finding the movements that relieve restriction and pain are a huge deal. Every subtle shift and advancement in her client’s ability is a notable milestone that drives those working against injuries or disabilities. Helping people to realize that they have control by mindfully moving and truly focusing is a spectacular thing to see progress and makes her a better teacher. More and more she’s also getting into working with those who are stunted by diseases like Fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s.

When Brittany isn’t teaching she’s dancing (duh) or watching Youtube videos of hip and knee replacements (this is true! I’ve witnessed the horror many times!!!) Her bigger vision is to be part of innovative movement research that furthers the understanding of the brain-body connection that can be applied to help those dealing with pain and movement-debilitating conditions. We have no doubt she’ll do just that!

 

4 Fun Facts About Brittany:

  • I used to work on a cruise ship as a dancer
  • I developed my own major at Indiana University
  • I like being connected and collaborating with my client’s health care practitioners (acupuncturists, physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedists)
  • The first year I lived in NYC I dressed up like an elf and did a flashmob in Union Square

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For The Pilates Virgins

 

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I’m always the first to say, and have been known to shout it out loud in a mat class or two, Pilates instructors LOVE Pilates Virgins. I mean, I can understand from the perspective of a newbie not wanting to show their rookie status, favoring hiding in the back, and meekly or not at all raising their hand when asked if they’ve done this before. I get it. We want to always be the expert in the situation. No one wants to look the fool, but as the other side of this equation, as the instructor, let me tell you: we <3 the beginners. I know — you virgins may not yet be convinced.

Well, here’s three reasons why no experience is needed to be our favorite population to work with:

  • You’re like clay

That’s right! Like a malleable piece of clay, we can use Pilates to mold your body into exactly what it’s meant to be. Since everything is new we can just observe how the work looks on physique without a bad movement habit throwing you off. You’re soft (no pun intended) so we can shape and work to create a strong foundation in the Pilates method that will serve you for years to come.

  • You are usually eager

Since you’ve had absolutely no previous Pilates experience, good or bad, you are less likely to be resistant to our corrections, suggestions, and instruction. Beginners are usually the most eager to please, the hardest workers, and the most present in their workouts. You don’t have a previous Pilates “movie” going on in your head which means that you are in the moment listening to our every word. Besides the fact that it boost our teacher egos, it also helps you get the most out of your session so you “finish” feeling completely worked and rejuvenated.

  • You see the most change

I often say, there’s in-shape and then there’s Pilates-shape. This work guarantees to be different than ANYTHING you’ve ever done, because simply there’s nothing like it. Our bodies usually respond best to varied movement and challenge so your first 10-30 sessions will be your most memorable. You’ll always remember when you mastered that seemly impossible exercise, saw your pants getting a little baggier, and notice a muscle growing where you didn’t even know you had one. This new-ness only comes once in a Pilates lifetime and we love to be a part of it.

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So, own your naiveté and know that your instructor is stoked to have a novice in their midst. When it’s time to declare that it’s your first time in class, raise your hand high. Remember you only have your first time once…

The team at FORM Pilates wants to take you through your first time…email us today to speak to our Pilates concierge

 

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Teacher Feature: Co-Op Life!

Greetings from all of us here at FORM Pilates USQ! Having just completed the implementation of our new cooperative structure, we wanted to take a moment and feature a little bit from a few of our teachers who shared a few words about their experience so far. We’ve been plugging away at the new quarter, and hope that you are all spurred into action and productivity by the cool winds of fall! So here it is, straight from the source–What is it like to be apart of a Pilates Co-Operative?

Carrie Campbell

DJG_1837“I enjoy being part of the cooperative because it enables me to have the freedom of running my own business without a lot of overhead. I also enjoy being part of a team of self-motivated, like-minded Pilates teachers.”

Jamie Graham

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“It’s sort of like the best of both worlds in that you have the independence and freedom of working for yourself, but the environment and inspiration of being in a studio and teaching next to other great teachers. You feel less alone!”

Audrey Carney

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“The co-op provides a home and supportive base but even better, tools and connections to propel my career forward. It’s a fun, helpful and passionate group to be a part of!”

Julia Starobin

photo“The FORM Co-Operative feels like home. It’s a great space filled with energy and positivity. It’s amazing to feel like you’re part of a studio while running your personal business. I feel like FORM offers me the best of both worlds.”

Alissa Alter

“I love the freedom and flexibility I get being a part of the alissaFORM Team. I am also thankful for the wonderful people I have met.”

Liza Ard

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“I love having the freedom to arrange my own schedule and the perk of working in a nice space that’s graciously maintained. It’s fun to work alongside teachers that are in charge of themselves, it creates a very positive work space.”

So are you interested in joining our family?! Check out more info about our membership options by clicking here. What are you waiting for? Fill out an application today!

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Blues Schmooze

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Happy New Year!!! What are your 2015 resolutions? To workout more? To eat better? To get a new job, a new boyfriend, a new life? Oh the pressure. Of a resolution. All this, New Year, New You bullshit stresses us to pull new habits out of our ass like a rabbit out of a hat. Look — don’t get me wrong: I’m all for improvement and betterment of self. Hell, it’s what I do all day between teaching people Pilates and motivating others to create the businesses and lives of their dreams. My issue lies not with the good intention but instead with the peer pressure from society. Such constant nagging to make giant grandiose plans of improvement only lead us down the path of good intentions with no result which only makes you bury your head in shame for giving up just weeks later.

There’s an actual phenomenon, coined by a British doctor for travel firm in hopes of selling vacation packages to Bora Bora and other sunny locales, called Blue Monday. Since its inception in 2005 the concept has been debunked, even by the good doctor himself, but Blue Monday, or the last Monday in January, is supposed to be THE most depressing day of the year. Despite being bogus, it still resonates. This time of year the weather is crap-tacular, the lack of sunshine and vitamin D starts to take it’s toll, you’ve been eating like a bear preparing to hibernate, and you just got your credit card bills from the holiday. Basically, January is one big Christmas hangover.

So, while all of those facts may be true, so many of us still try to make resolutions each year with renewed hope that somehow this year they’ll stick. Years ago I swore off resolutions myself in favor or creating words that set a tone for how I want to feel all year. I find it helpful to keep looking back at them when I feel lost or frustrated by the way my life is muddling along, and use them as redirection back to where I want to be. And while my strategy is good for not setting oneself up for failure with dreaded resolutions or empty goals, it’s not really a roadmap on how to get from New Year hope to real results.
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One of my favorite business strategists, Derek Halpern, just released a series of blogs titled, Be The Exception. Derek’s mother was on welfare, married to a drug addict, and had never been to college. Derek’s grandmother gave his mom a second chance by sending her back to school. Despite the odds his mom turned things around — going to school, working full time, and raising two kids, bringing them up to a comfy middle class existence without drugs and poverty, but she is the exception. How many times have you heard sad stories of people who have had terrible things happen to them, or maybe those terrible things have happened to you, but they just can’t pull themselves up to the challenge. What is it that separates those who rise above and those who just sink lower?

 

Well, desire for change is first and foremost. Hitting bottom with your situation or finally getting fed up enough to do something about it is key. Do you want change bad enough? Change is never the easy road so you have to want it. The first part originates within, second part is the external pressure. How many times have you had a great idea or even a deep dark dream that you choose excitedly to share only to be poo poo-ed by some well meaning friend or family member with a pat on the hand and a little, “When are you going to get a real job?” Same goes for big lifestyle changes like curbing your drinking or choosing kale over Kobe beef. Your peers who want change too but aren’t really willing to work for it. Your change threatens their lack of motivation. They will try to coerce you to stay back down at their level and “Just have just one,” or “come on! you only live once!” Misery loves company.

The thing is that the real hurdle to your dreams and realized resolutions is not the advertising industry, society, circumstances, or even your friends and family, but you. YOU are the biggest obstacle to your dreams. So stop the excuses and get your butt in gear. Want to workout more, just do it. Don’t lament about last week when you ate a whole box of Ho Ho’s with your butt glued to your couch. Today is a new day and a new chance to be the exception to the rule. Get up get moving and walk confidently in the direction of your dreams. The road to being a bad ass is not a straight one without any hills. Climb that shit and remember that anything worth having is worth working for.

 

JAY_SULLIVAN_PHOTOGRAPHER-3613Lindsay Lopez is a dynamic force of nature. Years in tutus and tights paid off with wild success as a dancer and actress. Years in the “biz” taught her that dreams can come true, with plenty of planning and TONS of action to back them up. With a vision of helping her fellow instructors make what they deserve and live a life they love, Lindsay created FORM Pilates Union Square to focus on trainers rather than the clientele. The result was a workspace for teachers who love to teach and clients love to learn. Although Lindsay teachers less and less, she is breathing new life into a stale industry. Her wish is to provide her peers with the business training they so desperately need. As a positive coach and gutsy mentor, Lindsay Lopez is changing the Pilates business for the better.

 

 

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Teacher Focus Feature ~ Vanessa West

One of FORM’s newest teaching additions is Vanessa West. I first met Vanessa in my studio at one of my business seminars. I found her incredibly smart and insightful so when she told me she wanted to be part of the FORM brood I was thrilled! I am pleased to have this opportunity to get to know her better and share my findings with you! Here’s the scoop on Vanessa: ChairpullUpb&w

With a childhood speckled with ballet and dance, Vanessa knows the importance of moving well. As a “corporate animal” she was looking for something that could alleviate thediscomfort of sitting in boardrooms and airplanes all day, and she got it with her first taste of Pilates on a mat in a dusty old room. The Tribeca space was in need of renovation, a converted dance studio, but that didn’t phase Vanessa- the class was amazing and it was love at first workout. She was especially drawn to the key principles of Pilates – control and centering, which helped her manage a demanding travel schedule during her career in media sales and marketing. Eventually she decided that a stiff back and the 9 to 5 schedule was not her style and decided to leave the office to become a fully certified Pilates instructor and teach full time.

Besides the way the method made her feel, Vanessa was attracted to how Pilates challenges every body, regardless of age or fitness level. The initial draw of the work in her body was fused with seeing how her client’s mind-body connections improved and finally helping them achieve the results they always wanted with the magic of Pilates.vw102.hr

So, it’s no surprise that Vanessa loves to work with clients who have spent their professional lives in corporate environments. She can relate to how the pace and pressure of corporate life can create a disconnect between our minds and bodies.  Helping people incorporate the method into their daily lives – sitting up at their desks, controlling their breathing while giving a presentation, scooping their abs when reaching up for that bag in the overhead bin. She loves helping people build & improve that bridge, making them more confident in their body’s abilities

Vanessa seems to always be teaching these days, but when she isn’t she’s been getting back into cooking. Tackling the “Balthazaar” cookbook, who’s most recent dish was their coq au vin.  Art & travel is also on the agenda, and she’s ready to get more stamps on her passport.  Ireland and Greece are at the top of her list.

Here’s 5 secret nuggets you may not know about Vanessa:

  • She’s afraid of birds, heights and clowns. At times that’s a challenge in NYC!
  • She loves a good martini, slightly dirty.
  • She believes that life is too short to take ourselves too seriously.
  • She likes tall men who can make me laugh.
  • And she believes that it IS true that sometimes you’ve just gotta dance.

 

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What the Fuck is Pilates Anyway?

In a conversation with a couple of clients over brunch, I realized how little people know about what Pilates is — even those who actually practice it.

As I took the time to ponder this anomaly, I started wonder what is Pilates anyway?

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There’s the textbook answer: Joe Pilates was an actual man. A boxer, gymnast, movement enthusiast. He was an inventor, an innovator. A man’s man. A beer-drinking, cigar-smoking German. My clients all have that basic knowledge, and maybe some of the New York lineage. “Yes, Romana, she’s the Pilates guru,” but that’s really it. As I sat explaining the roots of Pilates, its foundation, family tree, and my line, I realized that it still doesn’t really explain what it actually is. SO, if Pilates isn’t the people that created it or teach it, what the fuck is Pilates anyway?

 

It might be easiest to start with what Pilates isn’t. It’s not yoga, or ballet-based. It’s not weight training, or just mat work. Pilates falls somewhere between mind/body modalities and cross fit. It’s not extreme or passive. It stretches, strengthens, energizes, relaxes, and heals all at the same time. There’s equipment involved, and while it’s most beneficial if you use it, you don’t have to if you want to do some Pilates.

 

No wonder Pilates is confuIMG_4501sing to most people — even to it’s instructors. We come from all different backgrounds — from dancers to dog trainers — and hold certifications from different schools in over 20 states and 24 international countries. It was Joe’s dream to have a Pilates studio on every corner, in every city, in every country. The thing with expansion is that the more hands you have on something the more it morphs and changes, and some say, mutates. Joe used to give each person their own personal workout and then let them loose in the studio nudging and elbowing them into correct form. So whatever Pilates was for the business man that came to the studio, it may not be the same for the ballerina next to him. The definition of Pilates wasn’t the same for him as it was for her.

 

Here’s where the family tree grows branches and spreads it’s seeds across the world, making Joe’s dream come true. Many hands, many amalgamations. But isn’t that what their experience warranted? The industry gets bogged down with arguments and “discussions” on who’s actually teaching the true work of Joe, but really who the heck knows what Joe would do if he were alive today? He would probably be sitting back, sipping a cold one, and laughing at all the money in the bank.

 

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Julia Starobin

If someone knows about a gut busting, head turning, infectious laugh it’s me. I have been accused of being too loud or too boisterous but have ignored it all and kept on cackling. My laugh soulmate is Pilates instructor Julia Starobin. Her joy, smile, and yes, laugh is catchy and instantly joy inducing. Having Julia in the studio is a pleasure because besides joining you in a laugh she’s one hell of a teacher. Here’s Julia’s story:

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Like so many of us Pilates people, Julia was a dancer. Fascinated by movement, she dove headfirst into any exercise class or training method. The dance world was buzzing about Pilates and what a great workout it was so when she stumbled across a studio in her home state of New Jersey, she gave it a whirl. After that, there was no turning back.

For Julia, the most exciting thing about the Pilates method is that it is accessible to everyone. Whomever you are- whether you haven’t worked out a day in your life or you are a professional athlete- Pilates will challenge you. Keeping Julia’s interest is not an easy feat, but Pilates seems to do the trick. She’s crazy about how it consistently challenges her clients, continuing to teach alignment and introduce them to muscles they never knew existed.

Something that I find most exciting about Julia and her teaching style is her myriad of experience. She is a certified yoga and GYROTONICS teacher in addition to Pilates. While she deeply respects the Pilates method, sessions with her are infused with these other modalities. She finds that melding techniques into her client’s lessons makes the work that much more amazing.

When she’s not teaching you can find Julia practicing what she preaches. She’s an avid yogi and continues to take lessons for her self in the GYROTONIC method. She spends lots of time with her family, just across the Hudson, and close friends. In the summer, you can find her basking in the sun at Masten Lake, one of her favorite places to be!

Here’s 5 things people might not know about Julia:

  • She loves Mexican food and Sushi (just not together:)
  • Her mom is also a Pilates instructor
  • She’s yet to meet anyone who can make her laugh like her sister does
  • She REALLY loves what she does
  • You can bribe her to do just about anything for a good cocktail

Find Julia teaching Pilates at FORM, in NYC and for mat classes and yoga classes check her out at various Equinox Fitness Clubs here in the city.

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Guest Post: I AM a Pilates Nerd. (The one who created the brand)

If you would have told me two years ago that I would create a ‘brand’ that would be distributed and wholesaled internationally, get picked up by a major Pilates retailer, and make people smile with knowing enthusiasm, I never would have believed you.

In fact, I would have been really scared to try.

 

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It all started with a logo, a blog idea, and one t-shirt. But even before that, it began with a declaration I read in a blog:

“Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself”.     – Seth Godin

Pick yourself.  What?

I’d have to say this idea of picking myself – of creating my own path, changed my thinking and how I see myself in the Pilates world.  Beyond teaching my own students, I hadn’t allowed myself to think I could offer more to the Pilates community.  But if you’ve ever sat down with a copy of Return to Life, you know that Joe Pilates’ discipline was all about pushing yourself.

I’ve been teaching Pilates for 16 years. Some of those years in the trenches were admittedly not my best work. I spent too much time comparing my teaching skills with others and defending my philosophies.

Now I think I wasted so much time not allowing other facets of my creativity come to light.

It turns out it was the shirt, especially the logo, that made an impact on people. What’s surprising is I wasn’t expecting to build a small apparel brand, but that’s what happened. Ultimately, connecting people who feel as passionate about Pilates I do, is the most satisfying part of Pilates Nerd.

While I write this I am knee deep in online orders, preparing another wholesale order, and getting ready for my first big Pilates conference as an exhibitor.  It’s overwhelming not just because of the crazy workload in addition to my teaching, but because there is so much about the apparel business I am still learning!

Believe it or not, I have yet to assert myself and make it widely known that I am, in fact the face behind the brand.

It’s daunting to admit that I created every shirt, every post, and every item.  Mainly because it’s scary to fail, scary to be judged, and scary not to have control. (Insert Contrology joke).

I think we were born to create, to move people and to connect with people. The challenge is finding our niche and following through. Part of the bigger picture is this: we get on the mat and apparatus week after week and you never know what you can do until you try…that’s half the fun of it. So, be patient and move through the fear.

“…Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”

Thanks Mr. Pilates, that’s a quote to live by – body, mind and spirit – for sure!

image1Raised in upstate NY and now a Southern California local, Karen Ellis is the owner and director of Prana Pilates in Costa Mesa. She began her journey of movement in ballet, earned a BS from Indiana University and received an MFA from the University of California Irvine. After a professional ballet career in Boston concluded with injuries, a passion for healing the body and new career in Pilates was born.

In 2013 Karen created Pilates Nerd®, a company designed to celebrate Pilates through apparel, accessories and shared sentiments.  The simple goal of her idea is to generate enthusiasm for the benefits of Pilates and help connect people.

 

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Teacher Focus Feature~ Carrie Campbell

Carrie Campbell was well known to me even before I ever set eyes on her face. Her name was synonymous with teacher, and in fact years after first hearing about her, she ended up being one of my teacher trainers at Power Pilates. With a sing song in her voice and a smile on her lips she’ll kick your butt with some creative flow and choreography. Today we are fortunate enough to now have Carrie at FORM. Perfect proximity for butt kicking and a little schooling if need be….here’s her story:

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Anyone who walks behind, instructor Carrie Campbell, can obviously tell that she was a ballerina. Her toes point east and west instead of north and there’s isn’t a foot that isn’t pointed when it leaves the floor, an obvious byproduct of some serious training. The year was 1995, Carrie was living in Austin, TX, and It was her first year in a professional Ballet company. During an overhead lift she was dropped accidentally and broke her foot in five places- ouch! In an effort to get back in point shoes as quickly as she can she could, Carrie began taking Pilates with a classically trained teacher who only charged $10 per private session. After three or four sessions a week for about a month, Carrie came back to Pilates stronger than before and with a new obsession…Pilates.

While Carrie has had almost fifteen years of experience teaching the method, she still finds inspiration in Pilates. She loves how the work can really challenge you but not make you feel like you’ve been beat up after a killer session. She’s found that other forms of exercise can leave you feeling so exhausted and sore it can be hard to go about your daily life- not so with Pilates. Instead you fell stronger, more energized, elongated, aligned, and ready to take on the world.

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Carrie doesn’t pick favorites so she works with bodies of all ages and skill levels. Her clients range from 87 years young to 15 years old, but If she had to pin point a specialty it would definitely be pre and postnatal Pilates. Apart from her comprehensive Pilates certification, Carrie holds 2 certifications in Pre and Postnatal fitness and has studied directly with midwives and doulas. To her, pregnancy and motherhood is an amazing journey so, by helping other women through their motherhood experience- she gets so much back. Carrie gives all the credit to Pilates for both of her healthy, happy pregnancies as well as the ability to bounce back to her pre-pregnant body so quickly after birth.

When Carrie isn’t teaching she’s at her other job… being a mom, which is she professes to be way harder than teaching. She has two beautiful children, Grace (7) and Charlie (4) and they keep her VERY busy. She also loves to cook, go to the theater, practice yoga, take barre classes, and travel.  To Carrie, Pilates is not just a workout, but a way of life. She has seen the rewards of practicing Pilates extend far beyond body aesthetics. According to Carrie, Pilates will give you a better body but also so much more!

5 Things I bet you didn’t know about Carrie:

  1. She and her sister and were born on the same day 2 years apart.
  2. She met her husband on a blind date.
  3. She has lived in 6 different states not counting summer ballet camps/gigs.
  4. She went to a boarding school, North Carolina School of the Arts.
  5. She had a snowball fight with Mat Dillon in NYC during the blizzard of 1996! Jealous!!!

Carrie is currently in the top 10 for Pilates Style magazine’s Next Pilates Anytime Instructor contest!!!! View her video and vote for her by clicking the image below. Official voting begins August 18th. Go Carrie!!!

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