It's not hard to do Pilates these days: Classes are offered at health clubs, and books and DVDs can be found in the fitness section of bookstores and libraries. But calling those offering Pilates is like calling Wonder Bread artisan baking. To find the real thing, you need to find an instructor who has come through the real Pilates system, not a Johnny-Come-Lately cashing in on the latest fitness craze.
Pilates was designed by Joseph Pilates, using specialized machines and exercises to develop strength and flexibility. These attributes are usually missing from the watered-down versions taught in many health clubs and in books and DVDs, but are a mainstay at Fiore Pilates in Mamaroneck.
Owner Tracy Fiore comes from a dance background, having earned her bachelor's in dance from Hofstra University on Long Island. She danced professionally in New York City and began learning and teaching Pilates on the side. About seven years ago, she decided to come back home to Westchester.
"I'm originally from Yonkers, and I wanted to return to the area," Fiore says. "It was kind of like a homecoming."
She opened Fiore Pilates in Mamaroneck and developed an instant following. "It was a wonderful experience," she says. "We developed a huge clientele in our first year." The studio has grown to include 12 instructors, all certified in the Pilates Method, and is open seven days a week.
"It's an exercise that caters to all ages," says Fiore, noting that her clients range from high schoolers to a 91-year-old. Two types of services are offered group or private lessons.
The latter are personal one-on-one sessions, using the full range of machines. "They use springs to provide resistance, so you develop strength without bulk," says Fiore.
The group classes are almost as intimate they are limited to eight people. Instead of machines, participants use foam rollers, thera bands, magic circles, balls, weights and mat routines to achieve results.
Fiore says women outnumber men in the classes, but "we have lots of men who will be the first to tell you it's the best thing they've ever done. Most of our clientele is people of average fitness level for whom the demands of daily life or injury have gotten out of a fitness routine. We also get a lot of women who come after a pregnancy to restore their abdominal tone."
According to Fiore, the most benefits come from practicing Pilates two or three times a week. "It depends on their daily activity level," she says.
"Pilates has become very commercialized. But a video or big class isn't the best way to learn it. It's all about the details, learning to do the little things right."
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