Pilates is all about learning …


Pilates is all about learning and practicing pilates exercises to perform our best at all times no matter what we are doing. As a pilates practitioners and master teacher  I am dedicated to making that happen. An avid fitness enthusiast and somatic longevity coach, I welcome the opportunity to introduce the pilates unique conditioning method to new comers and I strive to inspire and challenge more seasoned aficionados of the practice.

A former dancer and accredited choreographer, I have been teaching somatic awareness through myriad movement modalities for over 30 years. I know bodies and how they are supposed to move. I can easily perceive when bodies are misaligned and or have muscular imbalances that may lead to harm. I am currently very excited to be able to introduce the pilates method to new students at this time.

An academically educated dancer with a Master’s Degree in Choreography and Somatic Studies, I design intuitive logical workouts that flow fluidly from one exercise to another. I seek to make exercise fresh and exciting with logical, progressive workouts and seamless transitions. When creating a sequence or progression of exercises I take into consideration not only the optimal flow of synergistic movements but the precise purpose and somatic objectives of each exercise. Then, as each sequence is performed, when need be, I cue and guide the mover toward fluid biomechanics, proper posture and dynamic body alignments.  I coach all my clientele toward their best proprioceptive engagement attending to correct form and optimal kinesthetic parameters when executing and practicing the precise elements of the method.

To learn more about my mission click here.
Pilates Practitioner holds up pilates circle and gazes through it at you

Have you only recently heard about pilates? Are you wondering just exactly what pilates is and want to learn more about it?

Exercise or Therapy

Is pilates a form of exercise or is it a form of physical therapy done in rehab? Pilates is a method of conditioning done as either or.

History & Evolution

Joseph H. Pilates (1880-1967) was the pioneering visionary of pilates practice. He was a movement designer and innovator.


Pilates practice enhances postural awareness enabling one to stand correctly and move more efficiently.


I was once told that pilates was not a spiritual practice. It was at a meeting where we were discussing new ideas.

Two Women in Plank Giving High Five
Choosing A Pilates Mentor

Have you ever wondered about or considered what qualities an exceptional pilates teacher and trainer should embody?

Woman doing pilates rowing front on a reformer.
Pilates Principles

The rationale for pilates practice begins with the individual desire to embrace life fully and ends with an enhanced ability.

The Principle of Breathing

Breathing is essential to life.  Unlike shelter, food and water, without air for just a very short while we would perish.

Seeking A Pilates Coach

If you are seeking to learn pilates from a professional coach here are six important characteristics to look for in a mentor.


Practicing pilates has many benefits for professional athletes, not just strength and agility increases but career longevity as well.

Woman athlete stretches sitting in straddle
Pilates For Runners

Understand how practicing pilates can improve your running posture so you can run more efficiently and run longer.


When human movement is engaged with a mindful focus the kinetic energy flows outward from a central focus.

Snake and Twist performed on the reformer by an experienced pilates practitioner

If you are new to pilates you might have never heard the term “somatic practice” and may even be wondering what that means.

Pilates For Dancers

To a highly motivated ballerina, the dancer’s world is not just a fleeting figment of her imagination. It is real.

The Principle of Control

Joseph Pilates said his conditioning method was a “balance of body and mind” obtained through control of human movement.

Pilates For Tennis Players

Are you an avid tennis player and plan to play for the rest of your life? Pilates is a great way to keep you on the courts longer and stronger than ever before.

The Principle of Flow

Flow is a quality present in essentially all movement. Pilates is a somatic practice that involves motion flowing outward from a strong core.

The Principle of Concentration

Pilates is a purposeful practice that develops kinesthetic skill and awareness through concentration and disciplined action.


Pilates is a decisive practice with a distinct purpose. Precise execution of the pilates method elevates the inherent advantages . . .


Not until Tiger Woods stepped onto the golf course were golfers ever thought to be considered amongst the super fit . . .


Throughout my career I …


Choosing A Pilates Mentor


Have you ever wondered what qualities an exceptional mind body practitioner could possess that would make him or her an extraordinary somatic facilitator and teacher of pilates? Perhaps you have had the good fortune to study with one of the pilates elders or another gifted teacher so you know exactly what that truly means. 

Pilates encompasses experiential knowledge best obtained through personal practice and mentorship. As a pilates coach I have had the opportunity to teach individuals from many diverse backgrounds and myriad walks of life, who have chosen to do pilates with me for all sorts of reasons and in my career as a dancer I have studied with many inspirational teachers. I continue to explore my own creativity and pedagogy as a student and facilitator of movement so I often contemplate what makes a pilates instructor stand out as a leader in pilates education today?

As pilates continues to grow in popularity, there are many amazing professionals and practitioners, coming of age, energizing and innovating the practice.  Aspiring students should be open and receptive to all teachers.  However, when a truly exceptional teacher shows up in the studio the opportunity may or may not be evident.  In preparation, you might want to consider some of the characteristics or traits that exceptional teachers and leaders of pilates practice might theoretically embody?  I have imagined several qualities I value in a teacher and would look for when making the choice to learn from his or her pilates experience and pedagogy? Here is a list of 7 characteristics I deem admirable in pilates professionals.


1) Authentic Embodiment of Lived Experience:

First and foremost, primary is the quality or characteristic of authentic experiential embodiment where by true leaders walk the walk and talk the talk, contemplating the ramifications of their actions, practicing the principles of their trade and refining their craft daily.  Pilates leaders wearing the embodied knowledge of their practice continually strive toward greater somatic awareness in efforts to deepen their own subjective understanding, cultivating deeper, more refined and or practical insights they can then share with their students.  Teachers who embody their practice mindfully seek to articulate their contemplative experiences and observations while asking the profounder questions that will further their own introspective explorations and deepen their teaching repertoire.

2) Rarefied Presence:

Authentic embodiment leads to a lived sense of one’s individual subjective essence and agency, valuing one’s personal worth, appearing to embrace a lofty sense of confidence, being more present in the world. In dance, when this elevated experience appears as a heightened state of peak performance it is referred to as “stage presence.” The dancer’s presence on stage, her ephemeral yet captivating visual appearance is magnified by her energized and focused state of being which is amplified through her embodied engagement of present centered, focus, power and grace. Pilates leaders are essentially types of movement performers whose presence invokes our respect and commands our attention.  Leaders in pilates education should embody an infectious, positive energy that can put you at ease or move you to action.  Experienced pilates presenters make you feel invited and welcome.  They can skillfully pull you up and out of a depressed state and energize your spirits so you willingly embrace the challenges of your efforts with greater zeal and enjoyment.  Wherever they go exceptional pilates practitioners and teachers embody purpose bringing light and joy into their studio space making vigorous body work seem like play.

3) Heightened Physicality and Kinesthetic Awareness:

While being the most agile practitioner or virtuosic performer is not essential to great leadership in the field of pilates, a gifted teacher does need a certain degree of skill, accomplishment and somatic awareness to bring that level of achievement and practice to the table.  Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words in pilates movement education.  On occasion for the visual learner the best example is a visually perceived one and instruction through demonstration by personal example reigns supreme.  Leaders who embody their practice reap the rewards and are happy to share their personal experience with others through movement execution when it appears to be the best option for any particular learner.  Exceptional leaders in pilates embody the principles and qualities of their somatic movement practice which entails a particular refinement of coordination and proprioception engaged within certain parameters of the form.  Dancers and gymnasts are agile, supple and strong and move with meticulous accuracy and elan.  Marshal artists are forceful, precise and quick, making it easy to perceive the direct intensity and focused power of their concentrated intentions.  In pilates, much like these other somatic genres, every movement is the result of a purposeful focus.  Attending to that purpose mindfully with imagination and concentration engages the onlooker pulling him into a rarefied realm he wants to inhabit, moving him to embrace his practice, desiring to emulate the gifted pilates practitioner with like minded clarity.

4) Adaptability:

A great teacher and profound pilates leader is one who is perceptive and cognizant in any given educational situation. Observing with calm and clarity, the experienced teacher is able to respond appropriately and wisely, spontaneously altering the course of his teachings if need be according to what is deemed necessary in the moment.  Teachers begin with a plan but must be ready, willing and able to move in another direction if circumstances call for it.  This is not a problem for experienced teachers. Talented teachers who stay in the present are sensitive to the individuals around them. They also have a depth of knowledge to draw from and pursue toward whatever objective. While staying true to one’s chosen style of movement or somatic genre, an adaptable facilitator can pull from a broad spectrum of movement options. The gifted educator is able to encourage more freedom through flowing explorations if best or can anchor down into more structured core work with an explicit focus on precise alignment, breathing, initiation and internal sensing. Depending on what is deemed best at the time the lesson can be tapered to the particular participants attending the session.

5) Versatility:

Superb pilates leaders are not only adaptable in specific situations, they are versatile, able to facilitate a host of thematic approaches and focus objectives to capture and shape the hearts and minds of the majority of attendees. A great pilates teacher never blatantly reacts to something that may have arisen unexpected during a lesson, but is precisely prepared to respond from a depth of insight and focus having a plethora of movement solutions, alternative modifications and variations, in her pocket to draw from.  Skilled facilitators can build in more structure to a lesson plan or move toward a more improvisational flow of energy that will invigorate, sustain and peak interest without compromising the overall objectives of the gathering. As students learn and grow the exceptional leader is ready with more challenging movement selections and sentient moving blueprints to explore.

6) Accessibility:

Foremost pilates practitioners and outstanding teachers connect on a personal level with their students.  Logically, if we do not meet our students exactly where they are then our teachings will not get through. Interactions must be genuine and only a truly authentic connection will feel real and satisfy.  If the teacher owns and embraces the relationship the student will sense it. The best pilates teachers are enthusiastic about their practice and students.  At the same time they know how to break down exercise elements and clearly deliver them to diverse populations of varying experiential levels.  Whatever is being taught must not be seen as too complex and or esoteric or it will be lost.  Exceptional pilates teachers are somatic leaders who know how to identify, demonstrate and describe the essentials of movement experiences making the practice accessible. Movement experiences can be designed for any given population and delivered as if uniquely geared toward the individual learner.

7) Inclusivity:

Top notch pilates teachers will not only walk into a studio and have their presence felt they will take the time to make every student present feel special, if just for a moment or two. Their gestures are never perceived as contrived but genuine and effortless.  This is often a natural gift the teacher possesses, but it can be developed through mindful practice. Connecting with students improves the morale and energy of the entire space.  A simple touch on the shoulder, a glance of recognition across the room or a sincere compliment referring to one’s accomplishment can add just the right amount of personal to uplift the community.  Pilates practice is a method of wellness care so any small acknowledgement tuning in to the needs and or emotions of others can make all the difference in the world. Supporting students with small gestures of appreciation resonates throughout the practice space engendering more positive energy, care and joy for all.

To Learn more about choosing a pilates mentor click here!

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Syndi Stark “I was …




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I was once told that pilates was not a spiritual practice. It was at a meeting where we were discussing new program ideas to build and grow our pilates and yoga programs.  I was told that we need to leave the “spirit” out of our pilates and yoga classes so as not to offend anyone since we were a “Christian brand” of pilates! You can imagine my surprise. Somehow that statement seemed like such a contradiction. It seemed odd to me at the time because I had worked at this particular studio for years and never knew pilates to be without spirit; neither did I understand how encouraging our students to embrace their vital movements as a spiritual endeavor could be problematic or that doing so went against Christian values.


It is my understanding that Christianity is a religion with an underpinning ethical worldview which encourages us to embrace life and to connect to spirit through love. That can be applied to everything we do even pilates. What I was unaware of though was that “Christian” was a term used to describe a “brand” of pilates. “Christian” is a term usually associated with Christianity, a particular religious belief and church community. It may inform our every action down to the very essence of our souls, but, it is not usually a marketing term used to identify a “brand” of anything other than a particular religious perspective, practice and institution. Movement may be intentionally identified to express a religious sentiment but correlating a sacred religious essence to a “brand” of exercise or movement feels a little shallow.

We may be motivated by Christian values and an ethical Christian perspective and we may serve many Christians in our neighborhood, but we also serve clients from myriad other faiths as well.  We do not send them away. We serve anyone interested in learning to move and feel better. I got a little annoyed at the meeting when the yoga teacher chimed in saying she used the term “contemplation” instead of “meditation” so as not to offend anyone. Wow, all I could think then was “really, you’ve got to be kidding me.” Is that a distinction that will appease.  Holy cow, how ridiculous, if not absurd!  We must give people more credit and respect than that.  So in my dumbfounded stupor this is what I had to say.

For the record I just want to say that I was never privy to the fact that our pilates studio offered a brand of “Christian pilates.”  I know many participants are Christians, but, I never heard of a Christian brand of pilates. I really did not know what that meant.  I understand running a pilates business with what can be considered Christian values, as many businesses do, but that does not include being close minded to other viable intellectual trends happening in the world, jumping over the horizon, offering new insights and understanding. I personally aspire to uphold what I believe to be Christian principles, but that does not make me close my eyes to other practices or epistemologies if they have something of merit to offer, whether they have secular, spiritual or religious origins.


I also explicitly espouse, as did Joe, an underpinning spiritual essence to pilates practice. Not a religious one mind you, but a spiritual one because practicing pilates involves focus on the breath, manifests greater, more organized, energy in the body and effects a person’s vitality, attitude and outlook.  For me pilates is not religion, but it does involve spirit.  Joseph Pilates, himself, wrote: ”Contrology” [aka pilates] was a practice of “body, mind and spirit.”  He should know what pilates is, maybe even have some say whether the spirit should go in or out.  I do believe, have witnessed and promote pilates engaged as a somatic practice to foster and enlighten spiritual channels of being and awareness. The first essential principle in pilates, a principle that encompasses every activity, is awareness of the breath which ultimately is correlated to wind and the spirit in the Bible.

As I have explicitly asserted I would not call pilates a religion, not even a non theistic one, just as I would not necessarily call any somatic movement practice religious or even spiritual for that matter, however, if the shoe fits, why would you seek to rip it off. When any experience whatever its nature seems to be manifesting a connection to spirit why would you forcefully try to remove or lessen it. That makes no sense to me.

In any case, history exists.  Tradition is tradition, encompassing historical truths, if not facts.  You cannot say something does not exist because you do not wish to acknowledge it.  You can choose to adopt or adjust to what is useful for you at present and let what isn’t go. However, what you cannot do, is dismiss something that exits, denying its place in history or tradition.  To avoid confusion between old and new ideas you simply clarify your terms.  You say what you mean; you express how you intend to use the historical teachings and then how you intend to proceed up the road.

Ideas and movement practices are not rigid.  Just as ideas grow and change and evolve so do movement practices.  They start somewhere and in the eventuality of their evolution, they are transformed into new inspirations, new connections and new avenues of awareness. The seed that started the journey to its current trend, however, remains as a reality forever.  You cannot write it out just because the new practice has been transformed into something other than the original. Historical honesty and traditional truthfulness should be acknowledged not denied or dismissed because it is inconvenient and does not serve your current agenda so you wish it not to be so.

Also, If we are going to tout “body mind” practice then we cannot be hypocrites and leave out any part of the whole person.  Some people are religious and some people are spiritual, some people are both and some people may be neither.  Whatever one is, however, is a part of his or her “body mind” matrix.  That is the individual we are serving. The term “body mind” may even be a bit confusing because it sets up a dichotomy which is not meant to be. The intent is actually the antithesis of a split or separation between the two. What the term really stands for is a holistic entity.  The initial intent was to integrate the philosophical split created by DeCarte’s proclamation “I think, therefore I am” equating thought with life, valuing mind over body. DeCarte’s fervent decree set up a dichotomy, splitting the two pitting one against the other as two distinct entities.  The intention of using the term body mind was to bridge this disparagement uniting the two into one, not to create a deeper chasm that would continue to see each as separate from the other.

In essence, body mind is intended to stand for an integrated whole, a holism that cannot be divided into two separate entities because they are more closely related as one unified essence encompassing multiple facets, one interwoven tapestry or unified partnership of intimately interconnected parts, glued together intermingling into a whole gestalt.  It is not a distinction between body and mind we are fostering, but a balanced uniformity or union of body and mind.  And, it is also not just body and mind, it is body, mind, heart, and soul, spirit, breath and movement, extroverted Self, introverted Self, fool, sage, artist, advocate, most embarrassing moments, hidden impulses, residual feelings, anticipation, excitement, rumination, contemplation, concentration, conception, peculiar perceptions, sumptuous sensations, ideas, images, memories, clandestine dreams, real and/or virtual road maps, etc., etc., stored in between the interior and exterior of cellular spaces, intermingled into the essence of one’s whole Being.

The body of the Self is not an evil entity of earthly lust and greed to be thwarted and denied, nor is it a mechanical robotic machine, but a very complex living vessel of tissues and impressions, thoughts and emotions, mysterious inklings forever quaking, and profound awakenings of intuition that are contemplated through somatic practices which can sometimes feel like an awesome religious “prayer” for good or a personal embodied spiritual invocation prompting us to embrace life fully, perceived and contemplated by a holistic, whole body, whole mind, whole Self.  So how you separate out the spirit is news to me.

Pilates is not just about building muscles or having flat abs.  The whole body is a conduit to spontaneous wisdom and intuitive awareness when nurtured mindfully. Body work and focused intentional movement is more than lunges, hinges, arcs, curves, bridges, spinal extensions and rotations.  It is a living whole mandala of synergistic awareness. If you cannot see the spiritual value in a holistic somatic pedagogy then perhaps you are not meant for a profession teaching pilates or intuitive movement and body mind awareness.  If you are a somatic practitioner teaching pilates or yoga or dance etc., and think that making connections to the spirit is blasphemy then I think you should rethink your career choice. As Joe taught, “Contrology [aka pilates] restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind and elevates the spirit.” He would probably not be very impressed if you were set on removing the spirit from any practice of his making that was his  very personal inception of intellectual, physical and spiritual understanding.

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