Balance your body. Balance your life. Balance Pilates.
Boutique Pilates Studio in downtown Charleston, SC
Specializing in private, pair, and group Pilates instruction.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a method of exercise that tones & strengthens the muscles without creating bulk. It balances the body, focusing on proper spinal alignment and strengthening the deep, core, stabilizing muscles. Pilates emphasizes quality over quantity of movement, by focusing on form and utilizing the mind-body connection. It is great for lower back problems, if you sit or stand all day, or have any body misalignments. Pilates can be performed by men and women of any age or fitness level, even with injury or ailments. It is an effective and efficient exercise!
When practicing Pilates, you can expect to enhance strength, flexibility, balance, and overall stamina. It will tone, lengthen, reshape, and align the body. There will be increase lung capacity and circulation by learning proper breathing. Coordination will improve with core strength, posture, balance, and body-awareness. You will experience decreased general back pain and simultaneously enjoy relaxation and renewed energy. It has also been known to improve your golf or tennis game!
Pilates can be done on a mat using your own body as resistance, or on machines (or “Apparatus”) particular to Pilates adding resistance with springs. Usually mat classes are done in a group setting & apparatus sessions (reformer and other auxiliary equipment including: Cadillac, Wunda Chair, various Barrels) are done privately or in pairs in a studio, led by a certified instructor.
Many of the exercises are performed in reclining or sitting positions, and most are low impact and partially weight bearing. Pilates is so safe, it is used in physical therapy facilities to rehabilitate injuries. Pilates is also an extremely flexible exercise system. Modifications to the exercises allow for a range of difficulty ranging from beginning to advanced. Get the workout that best suits you now, and increase the intensity as your body conditioning improves.
Gina C. Smith
Peak Certified Pilates Instructor
Pre- and Post- Natal certified
A Little About Me…
I am originally from Harrisburg, PA. I hold a BA in English Writing and a minor in Women’s Studies from The University of Pittsburgh. I spent several years as a freelance writer and then a technical writer for Blackbaud, Inc. in Charleston, SC. I have lived in Charleston since 1999. I am grateful I get to share my ever-expanding love and understanding of the Pilates method with people every day. I live on James Island with my husband and two sons. I also enjoy reading, SUP, boating, & traveling.
About my Training, Certifications, and Teaching style
I am certified through Peak Pilates of Boulder, CO. My full certification encompasses Pilates mat, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda & High Chair, barrels, & auxiliary equipment such as foot corrector. A total of 500 hours of practice, practice teaching, and observation hours are required, in addition to class time and physical, teaching, and written exams. I am also PreNatal and Postnatal Certified through PHI Pilates based in Pittsburgh, PA. Continuing to practice Pilates through my pregnancies helped me stay in shape and pain free and got me back into shape and repair diastasis quickly postpartum. I also attend continuing education courses every year.
I have been honored to work with great Pilates teachers like Clare Dunphy, Brett Howard, Peter Fiasca, Chris Robinson and many more. I am also certified in TRX suspension training and use it regularly in combination with my Pilates teaching.
As a sickly and weak child in the late 1800s, Joseph Pilates sought a system to achieve and maintain the ultimate human well-being. From his study of yoga, ancient Greek and Roman physical regimens, and the movements of babies & sleek animals such as cats, Joe developed a system of exercise he called “Contrology”. Within a few years, Pilates went from frail and sickly to posing for anatomy posters as the epitome of health.
Joe moved to England in 1912, where it is said he worked in the circus, as a boxer and a self-defense instructor for Scotland Yard. At the outbreak of World War I, Joe was interned with other Germans. There, he refined his ideas and trained others in his system of exercise. He rigged springs to hospital beds, enabling bedridden patients to exercise against resistance, an innovation that led to his later equipment designs. An influenza epidemic struck England in 1918, killing thousands of people, but not a single one of Joe's trainees died. This, he claimed, testified to the effectiveness of his system.
In 1926, Joe emigrated to the United States. During the voyage he met Clara, with whom he spent the rest of his life. Joe and Clara opened a studio in New York, where the dance community and privileged individuals caught on to the benefits of what Pilates was teaching. Joe continued to train clients at his studio until his death in 1967, at the age of 87.
Several students of Joe and Clara went on to open their own studios. In the 1970s, Hollywood celebrities discovered Pilates via Ron Fletcher's studio in Beverly Hills. Where the stars go, the media follows. In the late 1980s, the media began to cover Pilates extensively. The public took note, and the Pilates business boomed. "I'm fifty years ahead of my time," Joe once claimed. He was right. No longer the workout of the elite, Pilates has entered the fitness mainstream. Today, over 10 million Americans practice Pilates, and the numbers continue to grow.
I suffered from general back pain through my early twenties. There was no clear sign of what the problem was and no decisive relief. I tried many avenues including medication, chiropractic, yoga, and physical therapy, all of which helped, but didn’t alleviate the problem. I had been hearing and reading about Pilates and wanted to try it. My friend invited me to a class she heard was starting down the road from our office during our lunch break. After my first few classes, I had relief from pain and a new feeling of lightness, strength, and alignment in my body. The focused, yet dance-like movements made sense to my mind and body and I embraced it. I felt this was what my body had been searching for.
I later realized through my Pilates training, my back pain was due to weak abdominals and muscle imbalances. I have slight scoliosis and at the time I started taking classes, I sat at a desk and worked on a computer all day. After a few months of classes, I knew I’d do Pilates the rest of my life. After a few years of practicing, I got certified to teach and share with others.