Kristen Matthews and I used to work together when I first moved to Los Angeles and the Pilates program at Equinox was run by Power Pilates. She’s a dear friend and a fantastic instructor. She took the time to answer my questions.
How did you become a Pilates instructor?
The first time I ever did Pilates was a mat class in Jackson Hole and I immediately was drawn to it. It took me a while to realize that it was something that I wanted to do as a career. But once I made the decision I jumped in and have never looked back.
Why do you love Pilates?
Because I love how it makes my body feel. No other form of exercise has changed and healed my body like Pilates has. That doesn’t mean I don’t do other things, but I always come back to Pilates. Pilates also helped me become the person I was meant to be. Until I found Pilates I was kind of lost and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it saved me, but it definitely has helped to form me.
What are a couple of your favorite Pilates exercises and why?
I’m a huge fan of extension because of all the time spent at computers and driving here in Los Angeles, so I love the swan anywhere I can do it, the down stretch on the reformer, and spread eagle on the cadillac. I’m also always up for a challenge and the snake and twist on the reformer definitely gives me that. I’m proud to say it’s come so far over the years.
What is your favorite Pilates apparatus?
I’ve always really loved the wunda chair because of the ability to isolate certain intrinsic (smaller) muscles. And it’s fun to choreograph a workout for myself and those clients who have been doing Pilates for many years. I want to keep the work fresh!
What do you think is a common misconception about Pilates?
There are two misconceptions that I hear all the time. One is that Pilates is like yoga and another is Pilates is easy. While there are a few small similarities to yoga, in reality the two are such different practices, but they do compliment one another well. And Pilates is far from easy. Just ask any of the football player/gym rats I’ve taught over the years. Oh how I love to watch them shake and sweat!
What do you like to wear when you do Pilates?
I try to wear clothes that are form fitting so if I’m taking a lesson my teacher is able to see my body, and also so they stay in place while I’m moving around. Lately I’ve been pretty impressed with Nike’s pants, and Beyond Yoga has some beautiful tops. I’ve also toyed around with rocking one of the unitards that were big in the 80’s and 90’s ;).
How do you incorporate Pilates into your busy schedule?
To be honest, this can be tough at times. But I try to keep at least one standing appointment each week with a teacher, and then I’ll drop in on classes and do self workouts when I’m able to throughout the week.
Do you adhere to any diet or food philosophy to stay in shape?
I’ve never been much of a dieter, but for most of my life have tried to eat a well rounded diet (which if I’m honest is much better now than when I was a kid). These days I eat as clean as I can (lean protein, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, minimal processed food), I do my best to shop locally and organic, and am extremely conscious as to where the meat I’m eating is coming from. I love chocolate and salt, but I don’t let myself overindulge like I used to as a kid. When I’ve tried to cut out meat, I haven’t felt good. It’s important that we listen to what our bodies are telling us.
If you weren’t a Pilates instructor, what would you do?
My dream job as a child was to be a ballerina, but it wasn’t anything I truly pursued as I stopped ballet at an early age :). I do love learning about the body and helping people add movement into their lives. So I could see myself doing something in the exercise physiology field.
Do you have any books or videos you recommend?
I’ve been hearing great things about Brooke Siler’s new Pilates book “The Women’s Health Big Book of Pilates”, and my business partner and I are about to release a DVD “Trim, Tighten, and Tone” with The Pilates Fix. It’s a great all over workout with some added cardio.
What is your favorite Joe Pilates quote or story?
I’ve heard so many stories and quotes over the years. One of my favorites though is this quote, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” It’s so simple yet so true.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I want everyone to know how truly amazing the Pilates method is. It’s the best combination or strength and stretching for your body. If you’re not doing it, you’re missing out :).