MOVE Wellness Studios offers Reformer Pilates classes in Ann Arbor, MI, led by experienced trainers.

Pilates is an excellent way for men and women of all ages and fitness levels to build strength and flexibility. In Reformer Pilates, the exercises are done on specialized equipment, called a Reformer, to provide more resistance and allow for the fullest expression of movement.

Reformer Pilates is highly adaptable; when done properly, it can be modified to accommodate injuries, build endurance for beginners, or challenge even the toughest athletes. 

With that in mind, our Ann Arbor studio limits Pilates classes to six people to allow for more individualized instruction. A weekly group class is a great way to get motivation, support, and accountability! 

We also offer private training sessions for those who want to work one on one and enjoy a completely customized Pilates experience.  

What is Reformer Pilates?

Reformer Pilates is done on a rolling platform with springs that add resistance to your Pilates workout. This allows for more dynamic movement that can train many parts of the body in different ways.  

The Pilates Reformer has a bed-like frame with a flat platform on it, called the carriage, which rolls back and forth on wheels within the frame. The carriage is attached to one end of the Reformer by a set of springs. Springs can be added or taken away to provide different levels of resistance as the carriage is pushed or pulled along the frame.

The Reformer gives you more options in how you do your Pilates exercises. 

Pilates exercises can be done: 

  • lying down
  • sitting
  • standing
  • pushing the footbar
  • perched on the footbar
  • perched on the shoulder blocks
  • upside down
  • sideways
  • and more

Can beginners do Reformer Pilates?

Yes! Reformer parts can be adjusted to your body size and level of skill, so it’s a great option for beginners

At MOVE Wellness, we make sure that everyone feels supported by first starting with a one on one or group Pilates Essentials class so we can familiarize you with the basics.

Is Reformer Pilates better than doing mat Pilates?

Mat classes tend to focus on core work and require you to support the stabilization of your body. Equipment like the Reformer, on the other hand, provides a frame to work within. 

Because the Reformer provides some support, it may feel easier than working on a mat, but your Pilates trainer can make it more challenging by adding or taking away springs. Working on the equipment can also efficiently target and tone specific areas of your body.

The type of Pilates that works best for you will depend on your body and fitness goals. Our trainers can help make recommendations if you’re unsure which class(es) you should take. 

How many times a week should you do Pilates Reformer?

We recommend practicing Pilates three times per week to support neuromuscular patterning and see the most rapid change in your body. 

However, we recognize that barriers like time and finances may limit the number of sessions you can do each week. We’ll work with you to customize a plan that meets your needs.

Can you lose weight doing Reformer Pilates?

Pilates helps create long, lean, fit bodies. There are many ways that doing Pilates supports weight loss, but it is also recommended that clients also eat a healthy diet and incorporate some form of cardiovascular training to boost their metabolism. 

Is Reformer Pilates more expensive?

All in-studio classes at MOVE Wellness are on mixed equipment and include all aspects of Pilates. Pricing depends on whether you do private sessions or small group classes.

Reformer Pilates at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor, Michigan

The MOVE Wellness fitness studio is conveniently located on Jackson Road near I-94 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

We offer both private training and small-group classes for Reformer Pilates. Each session or class is led by one of our experienced Pilates trainers so you can have a safe and effective workout, regardless of your age, fitness level, or wellness goals.

“Maintaining healthy bones is a lifelong endeavor, and it’s never too early or late to get started. When it comes to dealing with osteoporosis or osteopenia, keep this simple mantra in mind: Move more, not less.”

—Elaine Economou

Maintaining core strength, spinal strength, and mobility helps support healthy bones. Elaine Economou‘s latest blogpost for popular website Sixty and Me shares simple Pilates-based exercises to get you started.

Read the full blog post on Sixty and Me.

2 women doing online fitness classes on a mat in their living room

Best exercises for Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis often wonder, can exercise strengthen or rebuild bone? The answer is yes, though not all exercise is equally effective at bone strengthening. There are two main types of exercise that have been shown to be most effective at strengthening bone:

  • Impact and weight bearing exercise.
  • Muscle strengthening exercise.

In addition to exercises to promote bone and muscle strength, The Royal Osteoporosis Society recommends exercises:

  • To keep you steady (balance)
  • To care for your back (posture)

Strength, Balance, Posture for Healthy Bones

For healthy bones, remember to simply move more, not less. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk (or run), dancing like nobody’s watching, or my favorite, Pilates, more movement will build strength to help you live the life you love. If you’d like to try more of our Pilates and Pilates-inspired exercises for osteoporosis, try one of our Strength, Balance, Posture classes at MOVE On Demand. We also offer a weekly livestream version, with a free 14 day trial available.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!


About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

The Benefits of Pilates for Men

What do you think of when you picture a Pilates class? For many, ‘Pilates,’ brings up images of leggings-clad women doing light exercises that look more like stretching than an actual workout — but that’s a complete misconception.

Although Pilates doesn’t incorporate intense cardio or heavy weights, it’s still a tough workout for men and women of all ages. In fact, some of the top athletes in the world incorporate Pilates into their routines.. Pilates works new muscles and movements, so it’s challenging without causing the strain some higher-impact workouts do. But whether you’re a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs or a retiree looking to switch up your workout routine, you can find benefits in Pilates.

Here are answers to some common questions about Pilates, its benefits for men, and a free Pilates workout you can try from the comfort of your own home.

Try even more Pilates classes with our MOVE On Demand Series: Building a Strong Core with Pilates for Men and sign up for our free 14-day livestream class trial.

What is Pilates, exactly?

Pilates is a safe, adaptable exercise method that can be done on a mat or with a specialized Reformer machine. It uses resistance and your own body weight to stabilize your core and strengthen your body. Pilates’ adaptability makes it great for all body types and fitness levels, while still being a challenge for even the toughest athletes. This form of exercise is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension.

Some men dismiss Pilates as a form of exercise because it doesn’t involve high intensity cardio or heavy weightlifting. But don’t let that fool you — Pilates is a great workout that corrects muscular imbalances and builds a strong and stable core, without the impact on your joints that extreme fitness can cause.

Can you gain muscle with Pilates?

Yes. Pilates helps lengthen the muscle and build strength for men of all fitness levels. 

Is Pilates good for weight loss in men?

Pilates supports weight loss by helping to create a leaner, fitter body. However, for best results, men should combine Pilates with cardio and a healthy diet.

Do men do Pilates?

Yes, we have many men in our studio who enjoy the benefits of Pilates. Top athletes, including tennis champion Andy Murray and members of the Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, also do Pilates.

What are some benefits of Pilates for men?

Here are some benefits of Pilates that men of all ages can enjoy:

  • Improved flexibility: Flexibility is crucial. According to Harvard Health, it allows us to more easily achieve a full range of motion, which leads to both improved athletic performance (a smoother golf swing) and  functional abilities (reaching and bending). Muscles get shorter and less elastic as we age, so exercises like Pilates that lengthen the muscles and improve flexibility are great for keeping you moving.
  • Building strength: Pilates can be an effective strength training workout for all fitness levels; this exercise can be adapted to provide stability for beginners or provide a challenging workout for athletes.
  • Alleviate pain and side effects of illness: Working the deep abs and pelvic floor can help alleviate back problems, and can be incredibly beneficial for men who have been, or will be, treated for prostate cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the “chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50,” making it especially useful for men in this age group.
  • It supports weight loss: Pilates helps to create long, lean, fit bodies. There are many ways that doing Pilates supports weight loss, but it is also recommended that you eat a healthy diet and incorporate cardio to boost the metabolism.
  • Safety: While high-intensity workouts are great for getting your heart pumping, they can be jarring on your joints and possibly cause injury. Pilates, especially when done with a knowledgeable trainer, is a safe, effective way to workout without the pain. It can be done as a standalone routine or worked into a more high-intensity regimen for variation.
  • It can be done alone or in a group: Men still wary of trying Pilates (despite the endorsement of many professional athletes!) can start off with a private Pilates session. One-on-one sessions will put you in contact with a Pilates trainer who can give you individual attention and a great introduction to this workout that’s adapted to your current fitness level. At MOVE Wellness, small group classes are limited to six students to allow for personalized instruction.

How quickly will you see results with Pilates?

Everyone responds differently to Pilates, but if you maintain a somewhat regular practice, you’ll see changes quickly. According to Joseph Pilates, the creator of Pilates: “10 sessions — feel the difference, 20 sessions — see the difference, 30 sessions — have a new body.”

Pilates Workout for Men

This 20 minute Pilates workout will take you through exercises that will help with the tight hamstrings and shoulders that are common for men, but experienced by all. All you need is your mat!

Getting started with Pilates 

Pilates can be done on a mat or with specialized equipment. Mat Pilates classes, like the 20 minute workout above, tend to focus on core work and require you to support the stabilization of your body. Pilates equipment, like the Cadillac or Reformer, gives you a frame to work within that is often more helpful than a mat, but can be more challenging when springs are added or taken away. Working on the equipment can also target and tone specific areas of your body very efficiently.

If you’re new to Pilates or fitness in general, it can be worthwhile to begin with a private Pilates session to get individualized attention and a more customized Pilates-based fitness program. You can also explore Pilates on your own and learn the Pilates basics with a beginners Pilates workout.

At MOVE Wellness, our memberships allow clients to individualize their experience by selecting from a movement menu of in-person, livestream, or on demand options, with the expert support you need to meet your goals.  

Ready to give Pilates a try?

Call us today at 734-224-2306 to learn more or start now online. We offer private training and small group classes in our Ann Arbor, Michigan studio. In addition, take classes from the comfort and privacy of your own home with MOVE Livestream and MOVE On Demand. There are even classes specifically focused on core exercises for men!

Booking Confirmation Class - Pilates Classes

Pilates is a whole-body exercise system that was created by fitness and conditioning enthusiast Joseph Pilates more than 85 years ago. Whatever your conditioning goal, Pilates is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension. While the exercises in this system work out the full body, there is a focus on breathing well and engaging the core muscles to support balanced and efficient movement. Pilates is suitable for all bodies at any stage of life. 

At MOVE Wellness we believe in community, in learning from one another, finding inspiration in our individual journeys, and supporting our clients and staff. We see so much growth within the larger Pilates community and a desire to honor the work as a system that can provide whole body health to those who practice it. The evolution and innovation of Pilates along with a strong desire to increase opportunities for everyone to access the system, makes it a great time to be a part of this industry. We do this work because we are a network of motivated individuals committed to changing lives through movement.

A group of men doing a Pilates Reformer class

What is Pilates Day?

As an industry, the Pilates community has a shared passion for the work that Joseph Pilates created. Pilates Day is a celebration of that work organized by the Pilates Method Alliance (PMA). The PMA is a professional association for Pilates teachers whose mission is “to advance Pilates as a profession and to promote and perpetuate the teachings of Joseph H. and Clara Pilates.” Pilates Day is set aside annually for the community to come together and highlight this extraordinary movement system. Whether you participate by doing Pilates, teaching Pilates, hosting an event, or learning something new about Pilates, everyone is encouraged to join in and spread the word. It’s all about feeling connected to the Pilates community and celebrating a shared passion.

When is National Pilates Day?

Pilates Day is celebrated annually on the first Saturday in May. You can search online for events in your area. Or, celebrate at home with a free Pilates workout from MOVE Wellness. 

20 Minute Strengthen with Pilates with Laura
Strengthen with Pilates is a great way to build strength using Pilates principles. Join Laura for just 20 minutes to feel strong and supported in your own body in episode 1 of Strengthen with Pilates. No props needed! 

What are the benefits of Pilates?

Pilates can help strengthen the body and improve stability and mobility. These improved fitness levels can help prevent injury and give you greater ease of movement through a full range. This system can also relieve low back pain and the postural effects of sitting. It is a safe weight-bearing exercise that can mitigate symptoms of osteoporosis/osteopenia, and there is mounting research that Pilates supports a number of pathologies, postural issues, and is an effective method for whole body strengthening.

Whatever your conditioning goal, Pilates is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension.

Joseph Pilates said about the effects of his method, “10 sessions — feel the difference, 20 sessions — see the difference, 30 sessions — have a whole new body.”

MOVE Trainer Sarah Cohen doing a plank on the Pilates Reformer

Become a Pilates enthusiast any month of the year

It doesn’t need to be Pilates Day for you to try Pilates! MOVE Wellness offers Pilates classes and private training sessions all year round. Join us in-person at our Ann Arbor, Michigan studio, or online with MOVE On Demand and MOVE Livestream. You can also visit our YouTube channel for more free Pilates videos like the one above. 

Contact us today to sign up for an introductory private session or start a FREE 14 day trial of our livestream classes. We can help you design a Pilates program to help you meet your individual needs and goals.

Pilates instructors come from wide-ranging ages, stages, and backgrounds. Pilates as a career can be attractive to many different people. In part, because the schedule and demands can be highly varied according to what is a fit for your own life. Some trainers teach many classes and private lessons at a single studio and keep consistent hours day to day. Other trainers have diverse hours to accommodate second jobs or the demands of parenting. There are successful trainers anywhere from under 20 to over 70 years old. There are men and women. There are trainers of all different body types and sizes. There are trainers with a background in dance, gymnastics, and sports, and those who never had a strong connection to a movement system before Pilates. There are trainers who were already physical therapists and fitness professionals, and some who came out of completely unrelated fields.

What they all have in common, is that at some point they learned what Pilates could do for people’s bodies, got excited about it, and wanted to share it with others. In short, Pilates can be for anyone. These are the personal stories of some of our MOVE Wellness instructors sharing what inspired them to pursue certification in Pilates as a career. We hope you might find your own inspiration in their experiences.

Elaine Economou on the Pilates Tower Reformer

Elaine is the owner of MOVE in Ann Arbor. She is also an accomplished Pilates teacher and Instructor Trainer. When she first considered becoming a Pilates trainer 20 years ago she was looking for the next step after years of training as a dancer and dance teacher. 

Elaine:When I first started doing Pilates, I realized I was doing something really hard that was getting me fit, and it also gave me so much joy. It struck me that this was so different than what we often think about working out: that it’s something you “have” to do, as a duty or a chore. It made me want to help people understand their bodies the way I was learning to understand mine. I took the leap to becoming a trainer when someone I knew let me know that she was starting a Pilates teacher trainer program locally. Suddenly I had available, accessible training and I enthusiastically signed up.”

Davy is a former Gymnast and Peace Corps volunteer.  She started her Pilates training back before she had kids, when she was working 50+ hours a week at a corporate job.

Davy:  “A friend of mine from work was going through the Pilates teacher training, so I first heard about it from her. I was not fulfilled in my corporate job. When I first started Pilates teacher training, I thought that I would be doing it as a supplement to my corporate job, something to help me feel more fulfilled. It was when I started having kids that I decided to make a change professionally. I felt I needed a job with more flexibility that would allow me more time with my family. When I was younger I was in the Peace Corps and it was there that I become passionate about Health Education. It’s always been my goal to get back to that, and teaching Pilates has allowed me to do that. I still believe that being a Pilates teacher is a great supplement to other professions.”

Angela found Pilates when she was in college studying dance. She loves science and movement and found Pilates to be a perfect blend of the two. She also loves helping people!

Angela: “I knew I was going to move to NYC after college and wanted a job that supported my dancing more than just monetarily. I also was referred to my first pilates job in college and just found that it was something I loved to do and the community I worked with was great. I have made lifelong friends through teaching movement and networking all around the world. I know no matter which city I visit when I travel, I will be able to find someone I know or have a lot in common with who is a movement instructor.”

A male Pilates trainer teaching two other men

Kenny is a father and also works full time as a lawyer. He has had a long time passion for Yoga, and started training as a Pilates teacher after talking to his friend Elaine, a Pilates instructor trainer.

Kenny: “A conversation with Elaine inspired me to delve in further to what had previously just been curiosity. I started reading more about Pilates, and soon realized that it’s more than just exercise. I joined the teacher training program because I wanted a new challenge. Even though my first movement passion is Iyengar Yoga, Pilates training seemed like it would be a more time efficient way to become a movement teacher. It also seemed to me that Pilates would be appealing to more potential students. And then there was a course available that I could feasibly fit into my busy schedule. I had originally thought that I would just do the mat course to start. I then realized that although the timing is never perfect, it made sense for me to go ahead and do the comprehensive course all the way through.”

Cadillac Toe Taps

Lauren is a lifelong ballet dancer/student who had just finished graduate school and had a new baby when the idea of becoming a Pilates teacher first crossed her mind.

Lauren: “I had just finished my graduate degree: a Master of Science in Geology. As I applied for jobs in Earth Science I feared that with a baby and a full time desk job I would no longer have time for my other great passion in life: dance and movement. Oddly, I was first inspired by the personal trainers on the show The Biggest Loser (which is kind of funny because I really don’t like that show at all for so many reasons, and don’t at all condone or support the methods they used.) I was, however, jealous of the trainers’ jobs. What appealed to me was that their job seemed to involve a combination of passion for movement and connecting with people one on one to support their growth. The body shaming and the yelling I could do without. 

I didn’t take my own thoughts too seriously at first; it seemed impossible that I would change careers before I’d even begun the one I’d just trained for. But ultimately, while I loved my new baby with all my heart, the prospect of sitting at a desk all day with no time to dance after was utterly depressing to me. I began at first just playing with the idea by googling Pilates training programs. I was surprised to find a training program available just blocks away from my house. I’ve been happily teaching and training ever since.”

MOVE Trainer Sarah Cohen doing a plank on the Pilates Reformer

Sarah’s first career was a former software developer and then a stay-at-home mom and then she found Pilates. The first time she got on the Reformer, she knew something magical was happening in her body. Within months of that moment, she became part of MOVE’s first Pilates Instructor Training Program class.   

Sarah: “About 3-4 classes into trying Pilates, I had a lightbulb moment. I realized that I love this and I want to do this the rest of my life. I knew I didn’t want to go back to a desk job. I did my instructor training about 6 months after that. I’m continually amazed every day by the human bodies in front of me and how I can help them and how they can help themselves. It’s been a gift. I can’t imagine doing anything else now.”

A Pilates trainer teaching a client on the Reformer

Mary is a retired VA worker. She worked in patient safety, and had a desk job for 40 years before embarking on Pilates teacher training.

Mary: “I started taking Pilates 15 years ago from my neighbor who had just opened a studio. I was recovering from breast cancer at the time and was happy to find exercise that felt safe and effective. More recently I ended up deciding to do the teacher training program. At first I didn’t think I could do it, it didn’t occur to me that I was the type of person who could be a Pilates instructor. But I was looking for something challenging that I loved to do with my retirement. A conversation with Elaine (from MOVE ) made me feel like I could do it.”

Pilates Reformer Instructor Training

Jane is a mother of two, a ballet dancer, and former ballet teacher. She was teaching ballet and waiting tables for a living when when she first considered becoming a Pilates instructor.

Jane: “I was teaching ballet and wanted to diversify what I was able to offer students. At first I was just thinking about teaching Pilates to ballet students. As a ballet teacher and a waitress I usually had to work late. After I had kids, I realized I needed earlier nights. That’s when I started to consider teaching a more diverse population of Pilates students. I had just finished my teacher training when I ran into a friend who let me know that they were hiring instructors at MOVE. Soon I was working there several hours a week. Eventually I felt comfortable giving up my waitressing job. Now I just teach Pilates and don’t teach ballet anymore, which makes sense for me and my life right now.”

Pilates trainer Tony with a client on the cadillac

Tony was approaching his 40th birthday and training as a runner to improve his health when he decided he needed to kick it up a notch. After researching various fitness options, he found MOVE Wellness and decided to give Pilates a try.

Tony: “I began my fitness journey back in 2014. Fitness was something I had always struggled with and I wanted to take control. I started with running, and then some biking. By the end of 2014 I ran my first two 5Ks. In the beginning of 2015, I decided I wanted to add something new to my workout routine. After a few months of research I found MOVE Wellness Studios and Pilates. My first private session was such an eye opener and in August of 2015, I decided to become an instructor. I like to create workouts that are not only challenging but fun as well. Because who doesn’t like to have fun, right? I believe doing something that you enjoy gives you the best opportunity to succeed. I am so happy and proud to be part of the amazing team at MOVE Wellness Studios. I am looking forward to being able to help others reach their fitness goals and live healthier lives.”

Legs in Straps on Reformer

Natalie discovered the power of Pilates early in life. She began training in high school to support her love of dance and along the way learned how Pilates can help with strength, power, and injury prevention.

Natalie: “I was initially interested in becoming a trainer because of the powerful information Pilates gave me about my own body in my dancing. I noticed that I was able to have more control and nuance in my dancing and I wanted to share that with younger dancers. I knew I wanted to take the training to become a Pilates instructor, so as soon as I was 18, I signed up. I have definitely loved being a Pilates trainer, but I still want to go to physical therapy school. I know that I will be able to take everything I have learned and continue to use Pilates in my career as a physical therapist.”

Kathy is long time fitness enthusiast and competitive synchronized swimmer. She signed up for Pilates teacher training to prepare for a second act career upon retirement from her human resources job.

Kathy: “I believe in Pilates and the effect it can have on one’s overall health. I felt Pilates teacher training would allow me to get back to teaching as well as have a new career after I retire. Pilates is for everybody and every body…. you don’t need to be a certain type of person or have a certain type of body. Anyone can do it, and everyone can achieve a sense of success and accomplishment.  It feels good on the body.  Pilates allows you to discover just what your body can do and how it moves. I look forward to being able to be a catalyst to my clients in trying new activities, in seeing them explore how and why their bodies move, feeling good about themselves.”

Think a career as a pilates instructor might be for you?

Learn how to become a pilates instructor in our Frequently Asked Questions blog post. Then, check out this video with our top three tips if you’re considering a career in Pilates.

https://youtu.be/IN8rkZ0tc9A

Interested in learning more?

Schedule a free 1:1 consultation with us or stop by one of our open house events.

  • Tuesday, March 14th, 7:00–8:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 15th, 4:30–5:30 p.m.

We are thrilled to announce that MOVE hosted Gyrotonic Master Trainer Donna Place for the Level 1 Foundation Training in August after our own Lauren Miller took trainees through their Pre-Training in June. Now Donna is back for limited private sessions, one special tower class, and a FREE Anatomy Jam. Donna has a wonderful perspective on supporting people as they step into movement work. We’ve all been in such good hands and you won’t want to miss out on this latest training opportunity!

1. Anatomy Jam

  • January 27th, 2023
  • 2:30 – 4pm
  • Free to movement professionals
  • Email us at office@movewellness.com to RSVP
  • Details: Come sip tea and learn some approaches to anatomy that are beyond origins and insertions.

2. Private Sessions and Tower Class

  • Limited spots available January 27th, 2023
  • Fee: $120 for a private session, $55 for the Tower Class
  • These sessions are only open to Gyrotonic Instructors

Information and steps to becoming a Gyrotonic Level 1 Trainer can be found here to help you further understand the process. 

1. Pre-Training: 

  • June 3-5 and June 17-19, 2022
  • Fee: $850
  • Studio Fee: $250 to hold spot

2. Foundation Course:

  • August 15-27, 2022
  • 12 days with a day off on day 7 (8/21)
  • Fee: $1,500
  • Studio Fee: $500 ($400 If paid by April 1)

3. Supervised Review

  • 1/21 – 1/26
  • Fee: $700
  • Studio Fee: $250

4. Certificate Course


To Register:

Please call us at 734-224-2560 or email us to register and hold your space by paying your studio fees to MOVE. Course fees will be paid directly to the trainer.


Master Trainer Donna Place GYROTONIC® Instructor Training

About Donna Place

Donna Place is graduated with a BA in music education from Whittier College in 1987. She spent the next 12 years teaching music, folk dance and physical education, both in college and in elementary schools. Convinced of the necessity of movement in the school system, Donna began studying dance more formally at local studios and the Lewitzky summer dance program. She received her MA in dance studies in 1995 from the Laban School for Movement and Dance in London. During that time she also began studying Pilates with Alan Herdman. After returning to the United States she continued Pilates training with Marie Jos​e Blom and GYROTONIC® training with Mary Halzworth, completing both programs in 1996. 

In 2000 Donna became a GYROTONIC® master trainer and in 2001 she joined the dance faculty at Orange Coast College where she currently teaches kinesiology for dance. Donna travels throughout the United States and abroad teaching anatomy seminars for various movement programs as well as teacher training courses for the GYROTONIC® system. 


MOVE Senior Trainer Lauren Miller

About Lauren Miller

Lauren is a certified GYROTONIC®, GYROKINESIS® and TRX instructor as well as a STOTT PILATES Certified Trainer.

Lauren holds a BA, a BFA and an MS from the University of Michigan and is an accomplished dancer. She spent 8 years with the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre, 5 years in Chicago as a dancer with JHD2, dance teacher for Park Ridge district, at the Joel Hall Dance Center, as a freelance director, choreographer, performer and (in her own words) a theater tech geek!

Although she has more than 30 years of dance training to her name, when she’s not dancing or helping clients achieve a greater level of fitness Lauren also finds time to pursue her other interests of geology, science education and playing the cello.

pilates

Say hello to our new friend Revel

I am incredibly honored to be a part of Revel, a fast-growing, online community of women over forty. We’ve been offered an awesome opportunity to partner with Revel during the months of February and March... We’d love to see your friendly faces in our Revel classes. It’s free and easy to join.

—Elaine Economou

Revel + MOVE

We’re so excited to share that Revel is launching a special series of MOVE classes featuring Elaine Economou and Laura Tyson throughout February and March.

  • Movement Essentials-Pilates Level 1: Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m.
  • Barre Class: Wednesdays at Noon
  • Mindful Movement & Pilates: Sundays at 5:00 p.m.
  • Movement Essentials Pilates Level 2: Mondays at 1:00 p.m.

Beyond February and March, Elaine will continue hosting her monthly Workout Wednesday series on Revel. Join us on the last Wednesday of the month for a brief themed discussion and a Pilates-based class. You’ll learn how to challenge your unique and miraculous body safely and enjoy moving!

Revel will connect you with wonderful women with interests around a variety of topics beyond movement. Enjoy Revel’s recent blogpost “MOVE with Elaine Economou” with registration links for all classes at the end of the Q&A. Everything is free and it’s easy to join!

Starting out with Pilates: How to trust the process (and why you should)

We’re living in a “now” focused world. We can get groceries delivered in an hour and almost anything we want on our doorstep within a day or two. Google “five minute abs” and you’ll see dozens of workouts promising instant success. Starting out with Pilates is a process. I can cut to the chase and say without doubt that the process is absolutely worth it. You’ll get as strong as you want to do all the things you love in life. But you have to accept the invitation to trust the process to get there. 

For people who are new to Pilates or other mind-body systems such as GYROTONIC® exercise or yoga, it can be difficult to understand the impact and expectations around the movements. What are you supposed to feel? Too many times I’ve heard people give up too soon saying things like “I’m not sure I feel anything”, “this seems too easy”, or “I’m not sweating enough”. I sometimes wish I could impart a few key pieces of knowledge to them by osmosis to ease them through the bumps of those first few (sometimes confusing) sessions. 

What is Pilates?

Simply stated, Pilates is a series of exercises that can be done on a mat or specialized equipment. But it’s really so much more. Pilates is also a complete system of movement that can be applied to other fitness programs to make them more effective. This unique, whole body system was developed by forward-thinking visionary Joseph Pilates 100 years ago. It evolved throughout his lifetime and continues to do so today.

The goal of a Pilates session is to move through the repertoire of exercises at the level and pace that suits you. We’ll move your spine in all planes of motion and challenging your body with different relationships to gravity. The original Pilates exercises focused simply on the body and breathwork. Over time, various props and specialized equipment became integrated into the movement system. 

Getting started with Pilates

As you prepare to begin a Pilates practice, it’s important to start at the beginning to build the vocabulary and understand the concepts. Serious athletes may be able to jump into an advanced class and be able to do the movements, but without taking time to master the Pilates basics, their benefits will be limited by a lack of understanding and foundation. No one would try to build a skyscraper without a solid foundation.

As you feel the movement principles of Pilates in your own body you will start to connect to the organization of the exercises. This is when the magic starts to happen. As ability, strength, and coordination increase, we can add complexity and more challenges. You will see your strength, balance, and mobility improve with consistent practice and without the “no pain no gain” mentality that typically comes with fitness training. The best part is that everything you love to do will get easier, including regular, daily life. 

Trusting the process in Pilates

So how do you get there? Understanding some common truths can lead to a much smoother experience of learning the movements, breathing, expectations, and coordination to maximize the impact of this work. After more than twenty years of teaching Pilates here a few things I know to be true for people at any age or stage when meeting this work:

1. Everyone gets it.

Yep, if you show up consistently you will learn to connect the breath, movement, and coordination to execute the exercises. Happens every time. In Pilates we use breathing to connect to muscular activation of tissues and breathing optimally brings tone to the deep support structures of the trunk. Most importantly, it brings awareness into the body and is a tool to help you start to become more aware of your body as it moves.

People feel unsure and worry that they are inhaling and exhaling at all the wrong times. Or, clients might come in for a session and think why are we spending so much time *just* breathing? Your trainer can help with a plan just for you and there’s a reason behind everything you’re doing. I promise that everyone can learn to move and breathe at the same time.

2. It’s not your typical workout.

Pilates is a system of mindful movement. It requires the act of listening to your body to help you organize the movement organically. Joseph Pilates said “It is the mind itself which shapes the body.” He didn’t mean that you bench pressed a ton of weight, but that you build the awareness you need to move the body with ease, strength and control. That control comes not from a performative execution of exercises, but from noticing what is happening in your unique body. Understanding the body in relationship to its various parts is what allows for successful coordination of complex movements.

In a small fitness studio like MOVE Wellness, your trainer will ask questions about how and what you feel while executing movements. The idea is to listen, notice, and connect — both trainer and client — based on what the trainer sees and on the client’s goals. While we teach specific movement practices like Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise, barre and yoga at our studio, the goal is to use those forms to empower people of any age and fitness level to be strong, healthy and capable of moving in ways that make them happy — walking, running, gardening, crafting, dancing, morel mushroom foraging, or whatever it may be.

3. It’s not one size fits all.

When you show up for a Pilates session, we’re going to meet your body where it’s at. It can be tempting to come in looking for a quick fix. And easy to be impatient for the twinge in your back or the ache in your knees to resolve immediately. But all of this work will be done within the level that’s right for your body, and your age and stage of life. I often say that we are working at the pace of the client’s body, not their mind. In our quick results oriented culture, the deep efficiency of our work is moving in relationship with your body, not against it.

Your body is unique, with issues and alignment specific to you. Pilates trainers certified by the NPCP have done rigorous training that means they can help support a variety of pathologies or postural issues. It can be tough after just one session to feel totally different in your body. At first it might feel too easy while you adjust to a different type of sensation. It will quickly become a full body workout once the coordination and capacity for listening and feeling the movement in our body occurs. Change takes time. Part of the work is committing to regular movement so that you actually give yourself the chance to see noticeable change. Through the practice of Pilates, you will increase understanding of your own body and how to care for it through movement.

4. It can be a vulnerable process.

We know that people come to us with so many layers of our culture’s imprint in their psyche about their body. It is a privilege to be with our clients and help them have an enjoyable experience moving. Pilates offers something for everyone and for every body. We will optimize your body for what you love to do in life and bring ease and balance to support that. It’s about more than being defined by just musculature — it’s thinking about fitness as resilience.

This is so different from the messages we get daily in our culture. We are told that doing all those crunches for core strength will flatten your belly or help your back pain. But what if your back pain is due to something happening with your feet or neck? What if doing all those crunches to get an abdominal six pack pulls your pelvic floor so taut that you start to have incontinence? Pilates is a whole body system of movement. We’ll focus on individual postural issues that help each person unravel their own unique muscular imbalances to create healthy movement patterns.

Nothing gives us more pleasure than when a client jumps up and says that the time flew by and they feel great!

5. There are no shortcuts.

You have to go through the forest. That’s something I like to say to my clients and instructor trainees. What I mean is that Pilates is a process of organizing movement and embodying the principles of human movement. There’s not a straight, paved path from your starting point to your end goal. Think of the body as a system. We will target the whole system to move optimally, not just one muscle. It can take a lot of time and patience to make progress.

It takes intentional movement to build strength and understand your own body. Along this journey, you will challenge yourself with more complex movements and layer in resistance from the Pilates equipment or your own body weight. You will learn to identify and overcome your own personal tendencies and compensations to optimize your movements. The goal is to build up to a full body workout that uses pace, weight and complexity to effectively meet the needs of your unique body.

Start your own Pilates journey

This is a process, and I encourage clients to trust it. It will not be the pace of the mind but it will be the pace of your unique body. Building the deep strength and organization to support your goals is an act of listening and building awareness of the needs of your body moment by moment. Trusting the process means showing up, committing to the work, and having confidence in the journey.

Pilates can be an ideal fitness program for a wide range of people at a variety of ages and stages. Get started with the movement essentials from the comfort of your home. Or, schedule an introductory session with one of our professional trainers.

Pilates for pelvic floor health

We’re proud to share that this blog post has been published in the April 2022 issue of The Brick Magazine!

One of the most important things to understand about pelvic health is that your pelvis is part of a larger integrated system. Each of us has a unique physical structure. And once we take the time to understand the structure of our bodies and how individual parts work together, developing our overall health and well-being becomes considerably easier.

Equally important is the simple fact that anyone can improve their pelvic floor health through smart, effective movement and exercise. Simple Pilates exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor and bring more awareness to your body.

Sign up for an introductory package for an assessment of your individual needs and customized instruction.  

A Pilates trainer explaining pelvic anatomy to a client

What is the pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing Kegels. 

Many women have probably heard of Kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper Kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a Kegel. This is where body awareness and Pilates can be helpful.

Benefits of Pilates for the pelvic floor

  • Releases stress 
  • Relieves low back pain
  • Builds core strength 
  • Helps improve pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence

“How can I tighten my pelvic floor muscles fast?” It’s not just about Kegel exercises

When it comes to your pelvic health, “slow and steady” truly does win the race. Unfortunately, so many of us are taught to approach exercise fast and furiously. So, if you’re one of those people who always assumed that any good exercise requires squeezing the bejesus out of whatever muscle you’re trying to work, congratulations, you don’t have to do that anymore.

True pelvic health means moving beyond the notion of simply doing targeted exercises like Kegels and muscling through things, and instead working more organically, starting with our basic alignment and breath.

Performing isometric exercises like Kegels without a basic understanding of your own structure and the shape and needs of your pelvic floor can actually have a negative impact. Which is why working through pelvic pain or discomfort is never a good idea. The goal is always to reconnect your body’s natural movement system to restore healthy patterns.

A Pilates trainer working with a client on the Cadillac

Gentle Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise and pelvic floor awareness

Engaging in specific simple exercises on a daily basis will have the greatest impact on your body. Which is why working with someone who has professional expertise can be essential for starting things off right.

Movement professionals such as pelvic health physical therapists, Pilates instructors and GYROTONIC® method trainers can see things in your body and the way you move that you simply can’t or are not yet aware of. Having eyes on your body in that way can help you more quickly unravel any postural issues or imbalances you might have and help you find proper alignment to help you work effectively on your own.

Just becoming aware of your pelvic floor – what it is and how it feels – is a helpful first step for most of us. Because although we think we understand it in theory, many of us very rarely take the time to stop and get a true sense of how it feels. You can help build awareness of the pelvic floor with these four easy steps: 

Step 1: Try this exercise for pelvic floor awareness

Sit upright on a chair with a lengthened spine. Take a few deep breaths, letting your ribs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your tailbone in the back and your pubis symphisis in the front, which is the joint between your two pubic bones. You won’t really be able to feel the tailbone or pubis symphisis, but imagining them centrally situated in relation to your sits bones can give you an overall sense of your pelvic floor.

A MOVE Trainer sitting on a Gyrokinesis stool

Step 2: Gentle engagement of the pelvic floor

Now with all those four points in mind, settle into the middle of your chair again and think about the tissue contained within those four points. That’s what you want to think about when we talk about engaging the pelvic floor. But that engagement should be a subtle sensation, not an intense squeeze.

The muscles and tissue here work differently; it’s not like flexing a bicep or squeezing a glute muscle. Performing gentle Kegels should feel like a lift and narrowing of the pelvic floor tissue rather than a squeeze.

Step 3: Learning to breathe optimally

Breathing. Meditation. Mindfulness. We talk and hear about these concepts a lot, and know they’re important. But it can be hard to really understand why and then put them into practice in ways we find useful.

Breath work is what I like to think of as a “clean slate” exercise. We have little to no sense of how we actually feel or what’s going on with our bodies if we don’t take a moment to breath first. For most of us, we often skip this step simply because we feel like we don’t have the time for it. But beginning with the breath gives us a starting point; a place where we can become aware of what’s happening with our body and can gauge any changes as we progress through movement.

A MOVE Trainer stretching in an X shape on the floor

You can work on breathing while sitting upright or lying down. Start by simply letting your body relax and taking a few easy breaths. And as you breath, notice where you feel the breath expanding in your body. Chest? Ribs? Belly?

From there, picture your full ribcage. And as you breath, think about sending the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.

Then, imagine your body as similar to a balloon. On the inhale, fill the balloon with air, and then picture the tissue and muscles of your pelvic floor gently lifting with the balloon on the exhale, all while keeping the rest of your body fairly still.

Your abdominals might contract slightly, but otherwise you should try not to move your pelvis, glutes or hip flexors. Keep your bones and bigger muscles still.

Step 4: Gentle breathing and lifting the pelvic floor

It will take some time and practice to do this without automatically trying to force or overwork your muscles. And that’s why starting small with that simple pelvic awareness is important. It helps you build the organic contractions and stimulation you’re aiming for and avoid any bearing down or pushing out. Ultimately, it should feel as though there’s a little sling or hammock lifting everything up and releasing down.

Safe, effective pelvic floor exercises

There are several simple, everyday Pilates exercises focusing on the spine, hips, abdominals and legs that are perfect for building and maintaining pelvic health. And you’ve most likely heard about or tried at least a few of them.

Stretches for the back and spine such as cat stretch, hip rolls, hip release and spinal rotation. Simple abdominal exercises like leg slides, single leg lifts and the side leg series. All of these stretches and exercises can be learned quickly and easily performed at home on a daily basis.

MOVE Co-Founder Elaine Economou doing a hip roll exercise

Learn pelvic health exercises with gentle Pilates training

The primary reason we encourage newcomers at MOVE to sign up for an introductory package is because it’s hands down the best way for us to assess your individual needs and help you develop a safe, effective routine going forward.

One size does not fit all when it comes to our bodies and our pelvic health (or anything else for that matter), which makes customized instruction essential. Having expert eyes properly assess your body’s movement patterns and then having a one-on-one conversation with someone about your individual lifestyle and health goals is something we all need and deserve.

A Pilates Reformer small group class

Private Pilates training vs. small group classes

For some people, starting with private training to get that extra individual support works best. And for others, signing up for gentle and beginner level Pilates classes and Gyrokinesis classes after an initial assessment is the perfect way to get hands-on training in a small, supportive group environment.

Ready to find that pelvic lift? Call our studio at 734-224-2560 or email us at office@movewellness.com to sign up for an introductory session today.

There will be no pelvic floor left behind!

Pilates for pelvic floor health

We’re proud to share that this blog post has been published in the April 2022 issue of The Brick Magazine!

One of the most important things to understand about pelvic health is that your pelvis is part of a larger integrated system. Each of us has a unique physical structure. And once we take the time to understand the structure of our bodies and how individual parts work together, developing our overall health and well-being becomes considerably easier.

Equally important is the simple fact that anyone can improve their pelvic floor health through smart, effective movement and exercise. Simple Pilates exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor and bring more awareness to your body.

Sign up for an introductory package for an assessment of your individual needs and customized instruction.  

A Pilates trainer explaining pelvic anatomy to a client

What is the pelvic floor?

Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing Kegels. 

Many women have probably heard of Kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper Kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a Kegel. This is where body awareness and Pilates can be helpful.

Benefits of Pilates for the pelvic floor

  • Releases stress 
  • Relieves low back pain
  • Builds core strength 
  • Helps improve pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence

“How can I tighten my pelvic floor muscles fast?” It’s not just about Kegel exercises

When it comes to your pelvic health, “slow and steady” truly does win the race. Unfortunately, so many of us are taught to approach exercise fast and furiously. So, if you’re one of those people who always assumed that any good exercise requires squeezing the bejesus out of whatever muscle you’re trying to work, congratulations, you don’t have to do that anymore.

True pelvic health means moving beyond the notion of simply doing targeted exercises like Kegels and muscling through things, and instead working more organically, starting with our basic alignment and breath.

Performing isometric exercises like Kegels without a basic understanding of your own structure and the shape and needs of your pelvic floor can actually have a negative impact. Which is why working through pelvic pain or discomfort is never a good idea. The goal is always to reconnect your body’s natural movement system to restore healthy patterns.

A Pilates trainer working with a client on the Cadillac

Gentle Pilates, GYROTONIC® exercise and pelvic floor awareness

Engaging in specific simple exercises on a daily basis will have the greatest impact on your body. Which is why working with someone who has professional expertise can be essential for starting things off right.

Movement professionals such as pelvic health physical therapists, Pilates instructors and GYROTONIC® method trainers can see things in your body and the way you move that you simply can’t or are not yet aware of. Having eyes on your body in that way can help you more quickly unravel any postural issues or imbalances you might have and help you find proper alignment to help you work effectively on your own.

Just becoming aware of your pelvic floor – what it is and how it feels – is a helpful first step for most of us. Because although we think we understand it in theory, many of us very rarely take the time to stop and get a true sense of how it feels. You can help build awareness of the pelvic floor with these four easy steps: 

Step 1: Try this exercise for pelvic floor awareness

Sit upright on a chair with a lengthened spine. Take a few deep breaths, letting your ribs expand on the inhale and contract on the exhale.

Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your Take notice of the bony parts on either side of your pelvis, which are commonly referred to as your “sits bones.” While continuing to sit upright, just gently rock from side to side, from one sits bone to the other. As you do this, try to imagine your tailbone in the back and your pubis symphisis in the front, which is the joint between your two pubic bones. You won’t really be able to feel the tailbone or pubis symphisis, but imagining them centrally situated in relation to your sits bones can give you an overall sense of your pelvic floor.

A MOVE Trainer sitting on a Gyrokinesis stool

Step 2: Gentle engagement of the pelvic floor

Now with all those four points in mind, settle into the middle of your chair again and think about the tissue contained within those four points. That’s what you want to think about when we talk about engaging the pelvic floor. But that engagement should be a subtle sensation, not an intense squeeze.

The muscles and tissue here work differently; it’s not like flexing a bicep or squeezing a glute muscle. Performing gentle Kegels should feel like a lift and narrowing of the pelvic floor tissue rather than a squeeze.

Step 3: Learning to breathe optimally

Breathing. Meditation. Mindfulness. We talk and hear about these concepts a lot, and know they’re important. But it can be hard to really understand why and then put them into practice in ways we find useful.

Breath work is what I like to think of as a “clean slate” exercise. We have little to no sense of how we actually feel or what’s going on with our bodies if we don’t take a moment to breath first. For most of us, we often skip this step simply because we feel like we don’t have the time for it. But beginning with the breath gives us a starting point; a place where we can become aware of what’s happening with our body and can gauge any changes as we progress through movement.

A MOVE Trainer stretching in an X shape on the floor

You can work on breathing while sitting upright or lying down. Start by simply letting your body relax and taking a few easy breaths. And as you breath, notice where you feel the breath expanding in your body. Chest? Ribs? Belly?

From there, picture your full ribcage. And as you breath, think about sending the breath into the back and sides of the ribcage.

Then, imagine your body as similar to a balloon. On the inhale, fill the balloon with air, and then picture the tissue and muscles of your pelvic floor gently lifting with the balloon on the exhale, all while keeping the rest of your body fairly still.

Your abdominals might contract slightly, but otherwise you should try not to move your pelvis, glutes or hip flexors. Keep your bones and bigger muscles still.

Step 4: Gentle breathing and lifting the pelvic floor

It will take some time and practice to do this without automatically trying to force or overwork your muscles. And that’s why starting small with that simple pelvic awareness is important. It helps you build the organic contractions and stimulation you’re aiming for and avoid any bearing down or pushing out. Ultimately, it should feel as though there’s a little sling or hammock lifting everything up and releasing down.

Safe, effective pelvic floor exercises

There are several simple, everyday Pilates exercises focusing on the spine, hips, abdominals and legs that are perfect for building and maintaining pelvic health. And you’ve most likely heard about or tried at least a few of them.

Stretches for the back and spine such as cat stretch, hip rolls, hip release and spinal rotation. Simple abdominal exercises like leg slides, single leg lifts and the side leg series. All of these stretches and exercises can be learned quickly and easily performed at home on a daily basis.

MOVE Co-Founder Elaine Economou doing a hip roll exercise

Learn pelvic health exercises with gentle Pilates training

The primary reason we encourage newcomers at MOVE to sign up for an introductory package is because it’s hands down the best way for us to assess your individual needs and help you develop a safe, effective routine going forward.

One size does not fit all when it comes to our bodies and our pelvic health (or anything else for that matter), which makes customized instruction essential. Having expert eyes properly assess your body’s movement patterns and then having a one-on-one conversation with someone about your individual lifestyle and health goals is something we all need and deserve.

A Pilates Reformer small group class

Private Pilates training vs. small group classes

For some people, starting with private training to get that extra individual support works best. And for others, signing up for gentle and beginner level Pilates classes and Gyrokinesis classes after an initial assessment is the perfect way to get hands-on training in a small, supportive group environment.

Ready to find that pelvic lift? Call our studio at 734-224-2560 or email us at office@movewellness.com to sign up for an introductory session today.

There will be no pelvic floor left behind!