Pilates Classes

Parent Q&A

Pilates for Dancers? Jul 16, 2018 (2 responses below)
Recommendations - Diastasis Recti Physical Therapy May 1, 2017 (4 responses below)
  • Pilates for Dancers?

    (2 replies)

    Looking for a weekly pilates class for our teenage dancer - lots of classes out there but hoping to find one specifically for (ballet) dancers...TIA!!

    RE: Pilates for Dancers? ()

    Shawl anderson dance center in Alcatraz just above college has two Pilates classes- they are for anyone, but many dancers take these classes. Suzanne Martin, who teaches on Saturday mornings, was a dance professor and now is a physical therapist who works with many dancers, including professional ballet dancers. I believe Patricia Banchik, who teaches at BBT, teaches the weekday Pilates class. Your daughter can likely talk privately with either teacher to get specific tips for how the work in class relates to her ballet practice. 

    RE: Pilates for Dancers? ()

    The Conservatory of Classical Ballet in San Leandro (right off 580 at the Dutton Ave exit) has a Thursday afternoon Pilates class for ballet dancers. 

  • I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations of a physical therapist that can diagnose, and provide therapy for diastasis recti?

    I'm one year post-partum, and workout regularly. I didn't even know what diastasis recti was until a friend mentioned it a few weeks ago, and warned me that I should be careful about the core exercises I do. I googled, and read up on it. I did the lying on the back self-diagnosis, and think that I am actually ok. I don't really have any pooch, and that I don't have more than one of two finger separation, but who really knows.

    I don't usually over worry about things, but I don't want to go back to my normal workouts if they could potentially harm me so I thought I would get a professional to evaluate me, and hopefully get the okay to go back to my normal workouts. 

    Anyone have any experience with this, or can recommend a PT?

    Anna Shapiro is not a PT but is an excellent Pilates trainer certified in Pre-natal/Post-natal Pilates including diastasis repair.
    She helped me with a long term diastasis I had (from years earlier). There are specific exercises to repair it.

    Less then 2 finger width separation is not considered severe diastasis. It also depends on how deep the separation is.
    If it's more then the 1st knuckle, there is more to be concerned about.  It might be worth at least talking to Anna and 
    maybe having a session. You want to be really conservative about forward flexion (ie: sit ups). Ab/core strengthening
    exercises can be done on hands and knees....planks are a great example.
    Give Anna a call, 510-621-8746. 

    i'm about 10 months postpartum and just found out i also have it from a friend who is a yoga instructor who checked me. (why don't our OBs screen for this?!) i also have about a 2 finger separation. i made an private appt to see my pilates instructor who gave me some exercises to do to help close the separation. she also told me a few things to stay away from in yoga. here's a website she sent me with things you can do during your day to work on it. https://diastasisrectified.com

    i'm sure any good PT could advise you on this. it's not really that your workouts will harm you, but that you won't close the separation and that just makes any pooching there worse. if you have only had one baby, it may not seem like such a big deal, but after a second pregnancy it could get worse so i would do the exercises and try to close is as much as you can now. 

    You might be fine then. Not everyone gets it. Most of the yoga teachers I have had post-partum have checked me. If you want to be sure I can recommend my PT, Amy Selinger, who has been really great for other issues I have had during pregnancy and post-partum. Her practice is called Back to Life and she is in Oakland and SF.

Parent Reviews

Hi, I was in a very similar situation to yours. I spent years in pain, not being able to bend down at all (or pick up my young kids). I tried everything -- physical therapy, chiropractors, Pilates, Gyrotonic, Feldenkrais, etc. Pilates was the most effective. However, I went through several Pilates instructors before I found one who was able to totally fix the problem (and get me in great shape in the process). Her name is Leanne Lempinen, and she is the best of the best. You can contact her at 510.313.3686 or inannaho [at] gmail.com. She specializes in women with injuries, and gets a lot of her clients from doctor referrals. She teaches out of two studios in Berkeley. Good luck!

Sandra Stringer is an exceptional rehab Pilates instructor that does exactly what you are looking for. I highly recommend you schedule a session with her as I have seen great results with myself and all of my clients I have sent to her. She has an office in west berkeley and an office in north oakland.

Sandra Stringer 510-910-7733

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Recommendations Advice about Pilates More Pilates Related Pages

2012-2013 Reviews

Pilates for out of shape men

March 2013

I've tried Pilates and liked it, but I was always the only man in the group classes. Also, at 60, I was usually the oldest participant. I felt like a silver-backed ape in a room full of sylphs. Any recommendations for a Pilates program in Oakland or Berkeley that would be more diverse? determined to get back in shape

You most definitely should try Julia Hollis' Pilates classes located in Oakland. Her phone is 415-490-7371. She is a dancer and a Pilates expert. Even in a class she sees each student and gives exacting instructions to each movement. I am not very flexible and still felt totally at ease in her class. Mid-age Moving Momma

I see plenty of men at Star Pilates in Moraga. I know you said you were looking for Oakland/Berkeley, but I thought if you lived in the hills or near 24, Moraga might not be too much of a haul. Anyway, Star has an older clientele, for the most part which is one of things I love about it. It offers mat classes, as well as instruction on the reformer.

I'm not sure about real Pilates classes, but I have the PERFECT yoga class for you, and it has a lot of the same athleticism of an average Pilates class. Try Scotty's class at 1216 Solano Avenue, through the Albany YMCA on Saturdays at 11:15 and Sundays at 11:00. It's a $14 fee per class for non-members. http://www.ymca-cba.org/albany/albany-health-wellness/programs/albany-yoga - Can't reach my toes without bending my knees

I think you would like the Pilates classes at The Works Exercise and Dance Studio on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley. The students are a lovely group of mature men and women that are very focused on being healthy and enjoying movement while continuing to challenge themselves to be fit. Check out their website: www.works-exercise.com The two Pilates classes I'm thinking of are Monday and Thursday mornings. Sarah Cohen the studio manager can help you with any questions. Best of luck! Happy with The Works

2010-2011 Reviews

Pilates near Glenview/Montclair

Feb 2011

Hi all - I am located in Glenview/Montclair and am looking for Pilates studio recommendations, fairly close to me. Specifically, I'm interested in hearing about results in terms of regaining a flat stomach and waist (my problem, a nightmare) and core strength, and reasonable cost. I've never done Pilates, but sounds like it's what I need. Thanks! SW

Optimum Pilates on Piedmont Ave is a great pilates studio. I have worked with a couple good teachers- Caitlin and Carie and both are really knowledgeable and give a really great workout. Also, the nice thing about this studio is that they offer a lot of small group classes or 5 or less on the equipment. This has been great for doing pilates but keeping the cost down. I feel that this has been a really quality experience compared to huge gym classes- i have really seen results in the abs and generally, my body is slimmer and more streamlined. pilates affectionado

I've got just the instructor for you! Nicole Hanshaw is warm and humorous and you'll feel immediately comfortable with her. She has very reasonably priced small group and private sessions in her pretty Montclair home. Should you be interested, she also teaches reformer at The Hills Swim and Tennis Club where you needn't be a member to train with her. Contact her at 510/681-6656 or nicolehanshaw [at] gmail.com to discuss your needs. Kiki

Great Pilates teacher/class in Berkeley?

Jan 2011

I'm looking for a great Pilates teacher and class, preferably in Berkeley. I'm pretty flexible with times/days, just looking for a high-quality class and teacher with good energy and passion for Pilates. C

Jennifer Moulton who co-own Studio Pilates 74 is a great teacher. Her studio is in Emeryville and the studio offers private and semi-private lessons as well as group mat classes and small group mat/springboard and reformer classes. You can check her website at www.studio74pilates.com Helene

You should check out Karen Casino's classes at her home studio in Berkeley, set behind her house in her lovely garden. I started taking her postpartum class several years ago after I had my first baby (great way to get in shape after childbirth!)and now do the tri-level class. Karen's website is: http:www.karencasino.com. The classes are small enough that you will get individualized attention and Karen really knows her stuff. She also does private classes. Anna

There is a great Pilates class at the El Cerrito Community Center on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7. Most of the attendees have been part of the class for some time and we all love the class. It is a mat class and can be for beginners to intermediate or beyond as the movements can be adapted to any level. The teacher Alena Gonzalez is welcoming and fun. Contact the Community Center and join us! Lynn

For a really good Pilates teacher, I encourage you to get in touch with Rosie Liebe. She is a body worker and Pilates instructor - and extremely good at what she does. I get bodywork regularly from her. Rosie's website is http://www.thebodypraxis.com/. You can call her at 510.828.3441 or email rosie [at] thebodypraxis.com David

I have gone to Karen Casino for five years. She is very knowledgeable, eager to explain, very attentive to her students' form, funny, easy to be with. She's excellent and I recommend her highly. Look at www. karencasino.com for a schedule of her classes. Kate

Pilates in Oakland and Alameda area?

Oct 2010

I am looking for a pilates studio and/or instructor in the Oakland and/or Alameda area. I am looking for both private instructors and group classes. Any recommendations? Jocelyn

ProBalance on Park St in Alameda is a great Pilates studio. Easy, free parking. Extremely knowledgeable staff. Overall delightful place. The owner, Ada, is a Polestar certified instructor and is also a physical therapist with lots of experience. You can do privates, duets, circuit classes, group mat classes, etc. Ada will set you up for what your current needs are with the best instructor for you. This place is an Alameda must! http://www.probalancept.com Pilates mama

Try Angie Specter at Mindbody Connections in Emeryville. I've taken group and private classes from her, and she's great. She's been teaching pilates as well as gyrotonics for a couple of decades, and she knows a lot. Best, Pat

Pilates 2 the people is a great organization, especially instructor Kendal Au. She makes the classes fun, affordable, and really has an amazing understanding of anatomy. She teaches in several locations around oakland, berkeley and does private sessions too. http://pilates2thepeople.com/ dani

far and away the best pilates studio in the bar area is with Angie Spector at MindBody Connection in Emeryville. In private classes she really watches/feels what you are doing to make sure it is correct. She is also a teacher/trainer and has students for lower-fee private/semi-private classes. Lots of different classes/techniques too. My favorite is the gyrotonics, makes me feel graceful instead of like an elephant. anon

I highly recommend Sophia Thorsen. http://www.sophiathorsenpilates.com/. Sophia is highly trained in classical pilates and has a beautiful, fully equipped studio in North Oakland (Telegraph and 51st Street). She has mat classes (and also does private sessions with the machines) which are small and reasonably priced. I take her mat class and appreciate that she lets you work at your own pace, paying special attention to injuries, and working with each individual's body and abilities. She is also very grounded and calming, which I like. Ariel

Core Cat Pilates Studio in Oakland, near the Embarcadero Cove and Coast Guard Island (convenient to both Oakland and Alameda) is a lovely studio for parents to take a respite and get a good work out. Pilates is taught from the more classical perspective, but the owner does mix it up with some interesting theme and stretch classes. Four reformers limits the size of the classes, and lots of props allows for a variety of exercise options. The students and teachers are very welcoming. Susan

Pilates Classes/Instructors in Berkeley/Albany?

Oct 2010

Any recommendations on pilates (machine and mat) classes and/or private instructors in Berkeley or Albany? I'm interested in strengthening my core (it's been almost 2 years post-partum but still...)and improving my posture. Thanks.

Center Strength on Solano at Ventura is great! They don't have classes, only private instructors, but they are all really wonderful and most have taught there for a long time. 510-526-3757. Dallas is the owner and she can help you pick an instructor if you don't train with her! anon

I highly recommend Sandy Endo, www.sandyendo.com or 510- 590-6057.

I did Pilates for about 2 years with a number of different instructors, then recently picked it up again after a 3- year hiatus. It's now been about 6 months since I started working with Sandy and she is without doubt the best instructor I have ever had. Not only am I seeing real results, but I am having a lot of fun.

Sandy is very focused on learning your goals and helping you achieve them. My goals were to lose about 10 pounds and get stronger. She has helped me in both areas - I've lost the weight and am developing a lot of muscle tone. My core is much stronger, and I can actually imagine having a firm stomach.

Sandy's sessions are always planned in advance so that no two sessions are the same. I am never bored, but always challenged. Sandy's knowledge of Pilates and the human body is impressive, as is her dedication to making sure that you are getting what you wanted from your sessions.

Sandy works one-on-one with clients at her home studio near Solano Avenue or at a studio she shares with other trainers on San Pablo. She also teaches a group Pilates class on Fridays at 1:30 at the Albany YMCA.

Call her - you won't regret it! Sandy's Fan

Pilates - Joanna Arhon - Yoga Kula in Berkeley - Shattuck @ Virginia. Here is her website:www.jopilates.net. I have been taking Reformer classes with Joanna for over a year now. I have tried several other teachers, both at Y.K. and other places and I can say Joanna is by far the best. She is extremely knowledgeable about both Pilates and anatomy in general. She gears the class to who is in it and offers modifications for the specific needs of each person. She is a pleasure to be around and the classes are great. She has helped me get a long standing back issue into remission. She also teaches mat classes, reformer and private lessons elsewhere - private studios, at UC Berkeley and will do privates at your home. I really can't speak highly enough of her. Also, Yoga Kula runs periodic specials when you can buy a package of classes at a reduced rate. Tracey

Pilates classes in Berkeley/Albany

May 2010

I am looking for a pilates class in the Berkeley, Albany area (preferably) but am willing to be flexible and travel. I am looking for someone who can help me strengthen my core & work with my chronic condition so rehab experience would be a plus. I don't have a lot of extra money so a sliding scale class or instructor would best fit my needs.

You could try going to Ellie Herman Pilates studio in Oakland. Look at www.elliehermanpilates.com or you can call them at 510-594-8507. They have some rehab people there. They also have discounts for the month of May, I think. Some of the rehab people are expensive but they have some student and apprentice trainers that work at a lower rates. Britt

I have been taking regular Pilates classes from Joanna Arhon at Yoga Kula on Shattuck and Virginia for some time now. I have tried several other Pilates instructors and Joanna works for me. I like her style, body and Pilates knowledge and approach. She teaches Reformer classes five mornings (M-Th and Sat) at YogaKula and mat classes somewhere else. I sign up for classes online - max 4/class. You can call Yoga Kula and ask for her contact info if you want to find out where she teaches mat class. Also, individual group reformer classes at Yoga Kula are pricey but they do run periodic specials bringing class price down a considerable amount. I started with a back injury and Pilates has definitely helped get me going again. Tracey

Sornam Joanna Sahadevan is a fantastic pilates teacher. She teaches classes both at the RSF on campus and at her private studio (Reform Your Body on University). She is incredibly knowledgeable and has herself used pilates to rehab her way back from a bad acccident. She doesn't offer a sliding scale, but the RSF classes are cheap and the trio classes at her studio would be the most affordable.

Ernie Adams offers Pilates classes in Kensington and in Albany. The classes in Kensington are through the Kensington Community Council, a nonprofit that provides chilren's and adults' recreational programs. He has a devoted following for his Tuesday and Wednesday evening classes. For more info, please go to www.bodyinaction.com or call 510-619-9223. Esther

Optimum Pilates in the Piedmont Yoga building has great reasonably priced classes. They also have a physical therapist on staff who teaches pilates and I have heard great things about her. I have personally worked with Carie Lee and Caitlin and have found both of them to be excellent, knowledgeable and compassionate teachers. The studio has a great vibe- I highly recommend it. andrea

2008-2009 Reviews

Looking for a fitness/pilates instructor

Nov 2009

After years of child-rearing, and unfortunately not putting in the time to take care of myself, I am looking for a fitness (maybe pilates?) instructor to help me get back in shape. I'm not afraid of hard work but wouldn't mind a gentle reintroduction to regular exercise. I live in Albany so somewhere close by would be best. I've already looked in on classes at the Y but feel a little overwhelmed by the large number of students in the classes. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Albany Mom

A year ago I started working out with Sandy Endo. She lives in Albany and she is FANTASTIC! She comes to my house and teaches me pilates skills combined with other exercises (strength training, yoga stretches, etc). She is great about tailoring the workout to my personal needs, pushing me to challenge myself while listening to my limitations. My friend (another Albany mom) attends classes with me and shares the cost- very reasonable. Sandy is also seeing clients in a studio setting. She is knowledgeable and fun. I feel better and I always look forward to our classes. Her e-mail address is sandy [at] sandyendo.com, but if you would like to know more, you can send me an e-mail at Eliana

Try Mind-Body Connection in Emeryville.(5855 Doyle St, #106. 510 420-0444) Angi Spector runs the studio and is absolutely incredible. If you see her for a personal session, she'll create a program that's specific to your body's needs. Unlike other programs I've tried, Angi believes in building strength from the inside out. You'll be working WITH your body, not against it. It's a great way to get and stay in shape. If you do a group class, you'll still get great individual attention. I can't say enough about her! Good luck & congratulations on getting back to your body. JoAnne

I've had pilates classes with two great instructors, one in Oakland--Grace Walcott of shapeshifter pilates who is at 459 0346 and the other, Liliane Fahr in Richmond (who I think also teaches at the Pilates place on Solano). Her number is 214 6673. Both were very nice, new their business and love their work. Sydney

Well, she's not all that close, but I can speak very highly of Sophia Thorsen Pilates, on Telegraph near 51st in Oakland. I've been taking Pilates from Sophie for a couple years now, and it's done amazing things for my flexibility, coordination, and of course, my core. And her rates are very reasonable. She's got a website, if you google her. Wendy

Sandy Endo works in Albany and is great,I highly recommend her. She has a website, I believe.

Many options are available for you. If you are in Albany, Synergy Fitness Pilates Studio is nearby on Solano Avenue, between Kains and Stannage. I'm a trainer there(along with 2 other full trainers plus the owner of the studio) and would be happy to talk to you. There are also 3 ''trainees'', newly graduated from from the training program and working with clients to complete a 200 hour internship.

At the studio there are private one on one sessions (recommended for at least a few times till you get the hang of it),semi-privates..if you have a friend yo'd like to train with, or sometimes we put 2 people together who want semi- privatese, plus several mat classes per week. The mat classes can be anywhere from 1-8 or 9 people (space is limited)so even w/ 9 people each person gets fair attention from the instructor (as opposed to a class w/ 30+ people).

You can get a great work out w/ a pair of hand held weights and an exercise ball. When I come to your home we talk about your goals, limitations, etc. I put you thru a work out that is reasonable and doable for your level. I leave you with drawings and explanations so you can do it all on your own till next we meet. June

I would highly recommend Sarah Kotzamani (292-1441) and Roya Arasteh (558-8044) who are both wonderful instructors. They respect your own pace, but push that necessary bit more with support, expertise, and warmth. Ellen

Pilates in Berkeley or Emeryville

Oct 2009

I am looking for a place to do Pilates close to Emeryville. I would like to do private or group classes. Or maybe there is someone who could come to my home once a week. Thanks
fire in the belly

Grace Walcott is a fantastic pilates instructor, she holds private reformer classes in North Oakland or will go to your home to work with you. Call her at 510-459-0346 or email her at grace [at] shapeshifterpilates.net Elena

June 2009: Need recommendation for a fitness place

Hi All, I am looking for a postnatal exercise expert (for exercise after c-section surgery) and a fitness place near albany berkeley area. I actually had a miscarriage and am really looking for someone who is really good because I am now overly cautious and want to learn about exercises that will help in toning back my body and will not affect my body in a negative way for future pregnancy. Any help will be greatly appreciated. - Thanks! anonymous

Pilates, Pilates, Pilates....I can highly recommend Synergy Fitness Pilates studio on Solano Avenue in Albany (next to the Foam Shop) between Kern and STannage. PIlates is the best way to safely get back into shape after a C-section. The trainers at Synergy Fitness are really knowledgable and will work with you one on one to develope a program specifically for your body and your needs. Many people go there for various kinds of rehab, including post partum moms (and pregnant moms to be). Rebecca is the owner of the studio. She's a MASTER...she's really incredible. The 3 really great trainers are Christina, Anna and June. There are also new trainees...not as experienced, but getting there and less money to work with a trainee. Give them a call. You won't be sorry Studio number is 527-9005. Pilates changed my life (and body).

Pilates recommendations

May 2009

I'm looking for a current pilates instructor/studio recommendation. I'm turning 40 in September and I'd like to somewhat resemble myself in an earlier time (or be even better truthfully). My sister was transformed by it in a few short months. I want to try it out and have no idea how to find a good instructor/classes and also an idea of general pricing in the area. Does anyone have any stories to share, people to recommend or advice? If it makes any difference, I'm in Crocker Highlands. Thanks!

Alameda Yoga Station (www.alamedayogastation.com) is offering a 5-week Introduction to Pilates/Yoga - Sundays, May 31-June 28, 5:00-6:30 pm for $75. hoping it works for me as well

I suggest you check out Sophia Thorsen Pilates in the Temscal area of Oakland. She offers everything from private lessons to mat classes. http://www.sophiathorsenpilates.com/ student

If you are looking for private instruction, I highly recommend Minoo Hamzavi. She's New York Guild certified and works out of her home on Caldecott Lane. She's especially good working with injuries and chronic issues (for me, neck and shoulder tightness). She is a keen observer of your body mechanics and tailors your workout to address your individual needs. She is gentle and thorough with her instruction, but she will also challenge you to work as rigorously as your body allows. An added plus: she's got a great sense of humor. She can be reached at 510-848-4133. Jody

I have a friend who got into pilates after work related injuries had really set her back. She loves it and became an instructor. She has a small studio at her home. Her website is www.laurieleiber.com. She's been positively reviewed on Yelp. She's older than you are and in GREAT shape. Personally I hate exercise and she is about the only person I'm willing to try ANYTHING with. dck

I heartily recommend Ayse Berkes. She has a lighthearted attitude that makes the workouts go by quickly and with laughter. Ayse is very well versed in the mechanics of the body so she was really able to help me with the post-partum issues like knees and feet affected by relaxin. She's a wonderful blend of supportive and challenging. She's creative so each time the workout is different, allowing my whole body to benefit and keeping me from getting bored. I had a C section and wasn't able to sit up from a lying position when I first went started and I credit Pilates with regaining my strength. She was honest about, and it is also my experience, that in order to both change your shape and lose weight one also has to do cardio (there are machines at both of her locations). She works with members of Club One and at her own studio at Equilibrio Wellness at 1729 Telegraph#2(between 17th and 18th, right near the newly renovated Fox theatre), Club One is on 12th at Clay, both in Oakland. She can be reached 510-334-8038 as well as ayseberkes [at] gmail.com Naomi

Pilates--Oakland or Berkeley

Aug 2008

I'm looking for a good pilates studio to get back into shape after numerous miscarriages. I need to build my strength back up after the physical and emotional strain. I'm looking for a nice studio, preferably in north oakland, that would help me get back into shape. thanks anon

I am devoted to Pilates 580 on Santa Clara Ave., not far from Piedmont Ave. Laura the owner is wonderful, the studio is small but brand new, clean, and filled with natural light. I invested in private lessons for a time, to get a sense of my level and goals, before switching to (less expensive) duets and classes. Laura is supportive and skilled at finding just the right balance of challege and confidence. Give her a call! (510) 868-8122. Pilates Fan

I recommend Optimum Pilates on Piedmont Ave. Andrea is very knowledgable about the body/rehab has had 2 children and taught/done pilates during and after pregnancies. Caitlin is certifying as a doula. I believe the website lists postpartum classes as 'coming soon.' I think you'll find what you're after there. www.optimumpilates.com Jessica

The Center in Oakland, on Grand Avenue, is a nice, intimate studio. I went in my last trimester of a difficult pregnancy, during which I had not been able to exercise at all. The instructor, Nicole, is a mom of two and very knowledgeable about all things pregnancy-related, including m/c, and how to begin to heal, in all ways. The largest the class would be is 5 people, but I was usually the only one, so it was like a private class for not the private price! Thus, it was trained specifically to my needs! I also went post-natally, too. www.thecenteroakland.com malke

I have found Pilates to be the most efficient type of exercise for my bad back. I get a good workout in a relatively short amount of time. Having had a back injury, I am extremely careful of not overdoing it and getting worse, and learning the exercises properly was key for me. I took a couple of months of private classes with Sandi Underwood at Studio74 pilates in Emeryville to learn the proper techniques. Now I can take a group class with confidence, and even try a Pilates video without too much worry about injury. Sandi is great, very detailed and precise in her explanations. Also, she's not a jock or a dancer, so she has real sympathy and understanding of people who struggle to be fit, and who would actually rather be curling up with a bood. They have some 3 person classes starting in early Sept, so your timing is good! http://www.studio74pilates.com/instructors.html The studio is very serene and clean, by the way. There's parking and it's pretty convenient to North Oakl! and. Have to admit it's getting better

Pilates 580 is incredible. Laura is an amazing instructor and has whipped me back into shape and helped my lower back pain. The studio is right off of 580 and really convenient. www.pilates580.com 170 Santa Clara Ave, Oakland 510 868 8122 pilates580 [at] att.net rachel

You may want to give Caitlin Smith a try- she is both a pilates instructor and a doula. she is terrific energetic teacher and very knowledgeable to boot. She also teaches pre and post natal workshops, etc. She has really helped me get my body back- my stomach is flat and I am standing up straight. I can't say enough positive about her- she's great. Call her at 385-4433 or call the studio 508-1408. Andi

Good pilates instructors

May 2008

Hi, I've been taking Pilates for about 2 years now, and love it. Unfortunately, the days/times at the studio I currently go to aren't very convenient, and the prices also keep rising... Do any of you have Pilates instructors or studios you would highly recommend? I'm looking for someone who can teach private lessons or in a group (even a good mat class would be great!), and who is fairly aware of body use in students (watches, for example, that students aren't developing lots of neck tension, *are* using good form, etc...) Also, what are average rates charged by your favorite instructor/studio? Thanks in advance for any advice/recommendations! Loving Pilates, Need New Instructor

The Downtown Berkeley YMCA has seven different Pilates classes plus a Pilates/Yoga class. You can see the entire schedule at http://www.baymca.org/dt/dt_program_list.aspx?categoryId=60=1780 jwenk

Please look into Pilates 580 on Santa Clara Ave. I can recommend it highly - I have been working out with Laura (the owner) for over 2 years now, and love the results and her! As a former dancer and certified instructor, she has excellent body awareness and subtle adjustment directions. The prices are competitive, and there is a range of options - private, duet, and group classes. No live website yet, but you can call (510) 868.8122 to reach the studio. Also a Pilates Fan

I think very highly of Karen Emery's classes, at Ashkenaz. I know she teaches private lessons, as well as classes at other locations, but here's her schedule from the Ashkenaz WEB site:

  PILATES with Karen Emery (510) 236-5113 Wednesday: 5:30 - 6:30 pm (levels 2-3) Thursday: 10:30 - 11:30 am (level 1) Thursday: 12:00 - 1:00 pm (levels 3-4) Saturday: 9:00 - 10:00 am (levels 2-3) Drop-in welcome 

Karen has an eagle eye for corrections, and she's great at handling people of all different backgrounds and ability levels in a single class. anon

Optimum Pilates on Piedmont Ave (optimum.pilates.com, in the same building as Piedmont Yoga Studio) provides reformer classes and private sessions. The trainers come from rehab, dance, and yoga backgrounds. I've really enjoyed learning from them and benefited from their body wisdom. I highly recommend optimum pilates. Jessica

2006-2007 Reviews

Dec 2007: Need a Great, Local Pilates Studio!

Help! I need to kick-start my New Year's Resolution but I don't know where to go. I am looking for a great Pilates Studio that offers both private training and group classes. It needs to be close (I live in Oakland, very close to the Grand Lake Theater, and I work in Berkeley, close to the Rockridge BART station), calm, and not too big (I stopped going to Pilates at Club One years ago because it was too crowded/noisy). Does anyone know of a gem they are willing to share? Signed, My Core Needs More

Try Ellie Herman Studios. It is on Grand just up from the theater. I went to her studio in the city and then the one here. She converted a old house or apartment to create the studio and it has a nice homey feel. The trainer I worked out with is no longer there. I would recommend trying a few until you find one you really like. They also have small classes. Good luck! http://www.ellie.net Used to do pilates...

Ellie Herman is the place to go on Grand Avenue. I've never been, but I have friends who rave about it. Spendy, I hear. Michelle Cordero teaches a great yoga class at Namaste in Rockridge, walking distance from the BART station. Its not pilates, but she incorporates a ton of core strength movements and does not feel like a traditional yoga class. You might also try the Dailey Method on Piedmont Ave. At $18 a class its a lot less than 1:1 pilates and is an amazing workout - completely focused on core strength. I'm addicted. Good luck - lots of great options out there. Jennifer

I go to a great Pilates and Gyrotonic studio on College Avenue, called Pilates Plus. The instructors are very nice and extremely knowledgeable. The studio itself is very clean and is a large open space. They offer both group classes (with or without equipment) and excellent private training - which I personally recommend. The prices are comparable to all of the other studios in the area that I checked out. However, after doing a lot of research, I found this studio to be far superior because of the trainers and the lovely modern studio with all of the Pilates equipment and more! I highly recommend it to anyone looking for excellent Pilates or Gyrotonic training in the East Bay. Pilates Plus 5255 College Avenue (510) 420-1412 http://www.pilatesoncollege.com/ kathy

Optimum Pilates in Montclair is great. they have really great teachers and also group classes. i have been really happy with all the teachers i have worked with there but i would like to recommend Chrissy MacDonald and Andrea Kennerley in particular- they are really fun and while they both give great detailed workouts (and are great at gentle rehab) they are also good at kicking your ass. they really give you one of those workouts where you feel you have done something and you feel great when you leave. Andrea also teaches pilates for children. they are at www.optimumpilates.com anne

Sept 2007: Inexpensive Pilates class

My daughter is interested in taking a Pilates class. She has limited funds for this. Does anyone have any recommendations for an inexpensive class for her? Thank you

I am not sure if it inexpensive, but the quality is great: Sophia Thorsen teaches classes for all levels at Pilates Plus on College. A mat class is, I think $ 15 ($ 12 if you buy a block of 10). It is in a nice clean studio, with street parking nearby. Kasia

My favorite pilates classes are with Karen Emery, at Ashkenaz. She charges 5 for 6 classes, and the classes you pay for don't expire, so you can use them up as quickly or as slowly as you like. She teaches several times a week at Ashkenaz (check their WEB site) and may teach other places, too. I don't know of anything less expensive than that. Patty

She might try looking at Albany Community Center (http://www.albanyca.org/dept/pdf/Fall07_Guide2007.pdf). I haven't taken the pilates class there yet, but the price seems reasonable. anon

The pilates studio i go to offers a variety of pilates classes: both mat ($15-12) and reformer classes($30-$25). I strongly reccomend the reformer classes if you want a full body workout- mat classes are only abs, but the equipment is a much more fun, dynamic workout- get legs and butt (my obsession). the reformer classes are also limited to only 5 people. Their website is www.optimumpilates.com. the owner Andrea is very friendly and she has been known to do trades occasionally and some sliding scale. They are supposedly going to be offering online scheduling soon- which will be really nice as it is sometimes hard to find out if a class later that same day has room. i reccomend it highly and have found all their teachers to be really excellent. happy with my pilates classes

March 2007: Pilates Personal Trainer at Home

We are in need of a personal Pilates trainer who will come to our home. My husband and I would like to do mat work in the original Pilates tradition. Have you had a personal experience with anyone? We would greatly appreciate your recommendations along with the trainer's phone numnber or e-mail address. Many thanks, Beth

The woman I have worked with for the last 3 years has been fantastic. Her name is Patty Lyons and her number is 715-7839 email address is gilbertgrape [at] earthlink.net. She has always come to my home but recently opened a small studio on Grand Ave. She might be willing to do some home visits...especially since there are 2 of you. I started with her when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and she worked with me slowly at first and we built up at my pace. I have always been pretty active and can easily say I am in better shape now than ever. Patty is extremely knowledgeable and professional. Give her a call... sharon

Oct 2006: Pilates instructor in Alameda

I have been suffering from right sided rib cage and thoracic pain, especially with deep breathing, for about 5 months now (since my baby was 7 months old). After much evaluation (it is not a pulmonary problem), I am believe it is at least in part related to a diastasis recti and practically nil abdominal strength (thanks to 2 c- sections, 10 pound baby etc). I am wondering if any one has had similar problems, and if so, what helped? Also, I'm looking for an excellent pilates instructor in Alameda (or possibly Oakland) who would be knowledgable about diastasis and postpartum pain problems. Thanks ailing mamacita

Mariner Square out at Harbor Bay, says an Alameda resident with many years' experience with back issues. anon

You should give Suzanne Martin a call. Her office is in Alameda. She's also got a WEB site: www.totalbodydevelopment.com. Suzanne is very knowledgeable. I know her from classes she does for dancers at Shawl-Anderson in Oakland. anon

I am a plastic and hand surgeon in Berkeley and have cared for alot of repetitive stress injury patients. I start my response this way because I have worked with patients who have chronic areas of pain (like your right rib pain) which does not get permanently better with standard exercise and physical therapy. I have also had a severe musculofascial back injury myself and was not able to work in the operating room for more than 4 hours and remain painfree until I started working with a practitioner of Muscle Activation Technique or MAT for short. This technique rebalances muscles that are overstretched and not functioning properly such as those pulled out past legnth by large babies, which may be causing your chronic pain. The theory of MAT is that chronically painful, tight areas actually represent a compensation for a muscle or group of muscles that are not working properly. If those nonfunctioning muscles are turned back on, the compensation relaxes and the pain stops. This can often be accomplished in one session, although it may take several sessions until the muscle retraining ''sticks''. You can then strengthen and maintain with Pilates, but I highly recommend starting here. The person I work with is Paul Ciske. His phone number is 510 832-5725. He is a certified practitioner of MAT in addition to having a PhD in physiology. Elizabeth

April 2006: Best Pilates in Berkeley

Hi, I live in N. Berkeley and am looking for a really great, challenging pilates class. Near my home works best. I have gone to a few pilates classes at the Berkeley YMCA and found them a little too ''gentle'' to the point where I didn't feel I got a work out. Then I went to visit a friend in Southern California and went with her to this great class that was really challenging, they used the big ball some of the time, and there was a lot of one on one adjustment. The teacher was great and really experienced. So basically I am looking for a smallish adv/intermediate pilates class with a great teacher. I am also open to one on one pilates, but can't afford something really expensive. Does anybody know of a class in or around North Berkeley or downtown berkeley like what I am describing? I have seen pilates places on Solano, one on Oxford near campus, and I know they do pilates at Yoga Kula on Shattuck. Can anyone recommend one of these places. anon

I have been going to The Works Exercise & Dance Studio at 2566 D Telegraph Avenue and working with Jennifer Durning who is fantastic pilates instructor. She offers classes 4 days a week and sometimes uses exertubes, bands, therabands and balls. Highly recommend her classes. www.works-exercise.com or 510-841-1373. When she is away she has incredible subs as well. pilates gal

I can recommend Barbara Van Winkle as a great pilates teacher but I think she only does one-on-one training, at a beautiful back garden studio in north berkeley, near BART. She is also a talented and affordable masseuse. Her # is 510-412-2251 Margi

I think you have to take Pilates slowly and carefully, like any exercise program. I learned the basics at Physical Therapy Innovations in El Cerrito. Now I can safely take classes at the Y or whereever. The PT Innovations the have a dedicated Pilates therapist who is also a PT as well. Its a great way to start if you can get a doctor's referral. Sandy

March 2006: Pilates mat classes in Alameda

Can anyone recommend a good beginning pilates class in Alameda? I'm interested in the simpler mat classes, not the individual instruction on the machines. Thanks! andrea

I go to Abra Rudisill's Friday morning mat class at the Alameda Ballet Academy (it meets at 9:30 am). Abra is a former ballerina and teaches Pilates in addition to kid (and adult) ballet classes. I find her instruction/guidance to be extremely sophisticated and attentive. I started going to her with terrible lower back pain from too many years of carrying kids on my hip, and she was able to help me figure out what to work on. I am pretty much pain free these days. Class is $15 dollars drop in--but you can also pay by the month. The class meets in the Academy's studio on Park Street near Central. Here's a phone number: 337-1929 Eve

Ada Shedlock teaches yoga at the Alameda Yoga Station - www.alamedayogastation.com. She often incorporates her pilates background in her yoga classes. They also offer a gentle yoga class, intro. to yoga classes and many great ongoing classes as well as special workshops. yoga fan

Jan 2006: Pilates for neck/hip pain

I'm looking for a pilates instructor to help me with neck and hip pain that I developed a few months ago...I've been to my doctor and a physical therapist but they haven't helped. Victoria

I highly recommend Minoo Hamzavi for private pilates instruction. She is certified and extremely conscientious about safety, and she genuinely cares for and supports her clients. I first met her when she taught a mat class at the downtown Berkeley YMCA. When she quit teaching there, I began private sessions with her and have been with her for a number of years. Sometimes we work exclusively on my trouble spots (neck and shoulder) and other times when I'm healthier we work on overall strenghtening. She practices out of her home at the Caldecott Apartments. Her phone number is 510-848-4133. Jody

My daughter does ballet, and periodically stresses hip, shoulder, what have you. A couple of times it's been an emergency, like a painful hip right before Nutcracker. We've had body work done at Mind/Body Connection in Emeryville, and it's been a big help. We've always worked with Angie, but what I've seen of the other people there looks good too. They do individual work, but also have classes. I think there's a website. laura

My friend Deena Levy is a physical therapist who also does pilates. I've not been her patient but friends who have sing her praises. 510-540-7816 or moveeasy [at] speakeasy.org. Ann

2004-2005 Reviews

May 2005: Weekend/afternoon Pilates class in Berkeley

I'm looking for a weekend afternoon Pilates class in Berkeley or Albany. Two big babies have left me with diastasis recti (abdominal muscles that pulled apart, leaving a gap in the middle), which makes my tummy bulge even though I'm more or less back to my normal weight. I'm hoping that a good Pilates instructor could help me rebuild my abdominal muscles.

Helene Byrne would be great, but her classes are on weekdays (I work) and are not conveniently located for me (I'm in N. Berkeley). I tried a few classes at Yoga Kula, which is conveniently situated in central Berkeley and has weekend classes both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but the instructors there (though they are not bad in general) haven't heard of diastasis recti and don't know which exercises I should or shouldn't do (some exercises, such as crunches, make it worse). I also called No Sweat on Solano, but they don't have any afternoon weekend classes. Bulging in Berkeley

If you are willing to spring for a private lesson (roughly $60 for an hour), there are many good instructors at Synergy Fitness on Solano near San Pablo and Center Strength on Solano near Colusa. I've had good instruction at both studios.

You might want to give Karen Casino's ''Tri-Level Fitness'' classes a try. She offers pilates-ish classes specifically for post-partum (and believe me, she HAS heard of diastasis ;-)) but they might be only on week days. However, I know she also has general classes that are on Saturdays, at her back-yard studio near Derby/Sacramento. meg

Hi I teach a 12:15 Pilates mat class on Saturdays. This class is not specifically for new mothers, although I do teach a New Mother's Workout and I know all about diastasis recti. The classes are small allowing me to provide each individual with as much personal attention as they need. Please check out my websites at dragonflyvillage.com/trilevelfitness and also karencasino.com. I also have a website for my New Mother's workout. The URL for this is dragonflyvillage.com/karencasino. I hope this proves helpful to you. Karen Casino

I would recommend trying a few private pilates sessions before joining any group mat classes. As a certified Pilates instructor with a master of science degree in Kinesiology I know this problem and the best results I have seen with clients is to first work with them alone as to assess their specific needs and then when a strong foundation is established and moreover that the muscles have healed as well then further progress can be made in a group setting. Also with privates you can schedule around your work days. At our studio we offer 3 privates for $150 as a one time introductory offer, we are located in Emeryville. Our weekend mat class is at 9:00 on Saturday morning. However I would strongly advise to get some good personal attention before joining a group led by an inexperienced instructor. Feel free to call for more info: 510-450 0878 or check our website: www.eastbaypilates.com krisna

I used a great personal trainer that came to my house and went through the Pilates exercises with me on my own schedule. She is a mom of 2 young kids herself...so I am sure she would know about abdominal muscles that have pulled apart. She was great with the ''after baby'' stomach exercises,laid back and knew her stuff. Her name is Kim Frank.

You might try getting private instruction for a few sessions to learn what exercises will/won't work for you. For that I recommend Minoo Hamzavi. She's a certified Pilates instructor and I first met her at the Berkeley YMCA where she taught a mat class. Now she teaches out of her home near Caldecott Tunnel. I've been taking monthly private sessions with her for some years, which I use as a ''tune-up''. She's very observant, knowledgeable, careful, and caring. Her phone number is 510-848-4133. I'm happy to talk with you if you want to email me. Jody

Ada Shedlock teaches a challenging yoga on the ball class Sunday afternoons at 1:00 at the Berkeley Yoga Center. Ada has done wonders for my abdomen after two babies and I had the same split you're talking about. She has a dance, iyengar, pilates background and really knows her anatomy/physiology. I have a lot of abdominal strength and tone now and look much better but my waistline just will never be what it used to be!

Feb 2005: Pilates for beginners

can anyone recommend a pilates class/instructor in a studio/gym for beginners in the oakland area? i need evening or weekend classes. suzie

I have taken pilates classes from Sally McClanahan at the Glenview Performing Arts center (M and W, not weekends)and really enjoyed them. Her info is:

Scoop Postural Reconditioning Classes in Glenview 1318 Glenfield Avenue, Studio B

Semi private lessons on Saturdays are 75 minutes long and include a postural assessment. Classes are grouped by postural type. (call first) 8:30 emphasis on back and shoulders 10:15 emphasis on low back and abdominals

For more information contact Sally McClanahan mccwest AT earthlink.net

I know of a wonderful Pilates instructor. Her name is Lisa Mitchell and she is in Lafayette. Her phone number is (925)284- 5880. She does individual and group. Michelle

June 2004: Pilates with baby

Does anyone know of a Pilates class that will allow me to bring my 5-month-old? I'd like to start toning post- pregnancy, but I don't have regular childcare. Thanks!

Helene Byrne does a postpartum class which uses a lot of pilates. When I did it the woman next to me in class always brought her 5 month old. there were people to help with fussy children as well walking around the class and it was very helpful for getting back in shape.

August 2003

I'm looking for a post-natal (ie, can bring baby) pilates class in the Berkeley/Oakland area. I have the feeling this went by on the list recently and I'm sorry I didn't take notes then, and I don't see anything on the website. Any suggestions? I've never done pilates, but after this 2nd pregnancy I really need to work on my core, which is what I hear pilates is great for. Thanks! Charis

There is a great post-natal aerobics class taught by Lisa Fernadez at the Works on Telegragh Fridays 12 - 1. Its not Pilates but she does a lot of core strengthening work as well as low impact aerobics, the later with the baby in a front carrier. Talk about a workout! Its a lot of fun and the babies love it! Rebecca

Helene Byrne gives a great postnatal workout class using pilates in Montclair. I took it with my baby last winter. Unfortunately I don't have her contact info but you should be able to find it. Jackie

I got a lot out of Helene Byrne's class, which draws a lot from Pilates. http://www.exerciseafterpregnancy.com/ Lina

2003 & Earlier

Oct. 2003

Any recommendations for pilates classes in the Oakland area? Preferably one that has a pre-natal class and/or is open to pregnant people (not pregnant right now but may be in the future). Also, do people recommend doing pilates while pregnant (as opposed to yoga or other forms of exercise)? JS

Mind-Body Connection on the top of Collega Ave. has a good reputation. They used to have pre, or maybe post, natal classes but I'm not sure if they are still going on. Helene Byrne

I have a great Pilates instructor, Skye, who teaches in Oakland/Berkeley. I know for a fact that she's great with pregnancy and post pregnancy because she just had a baby. She practiced and taught full classes and privates while she was pregnant and resumed teaching right away. She's awesome and highly highly recommended. I know she does privates in N. Berkeley but also teaches at Gold's in Oakland. She teaches at Golds on Mon 10am, Fri 12 and Sat 11am. I like the Mon. and Sat. classes but come early cause they get filled up. I know Skye teaches other places, but I don't know exactly where. She has all the pilates equipment in her studio in N. Berkeley, it's a lot of fun too. Skye's phone number is 510-883-0124. Sarah

Pilates is great for those who are pregnant, wanting to be pregnant, or the recently pregnant!

That said, there are some precautions that should be followed by the pregnant woman, especially related to abdominal work, but also in stretching. Until you become pregnant, a regular Pilates class should be fine, but once you are pregnant, I think a prenatal class is better.

Fortunately, there are plenty of resources around the East Bay for Pilates classes. I teach in Emeryville (classes almost daily) and Alameda (one evening a week), and will be putting together a daytime prenatal class in Emeryville shortly. Another good place for classes is the Ellie Herman Studio, on Grand, but I do not believe they offer prenatal. If you would like to contact me for more information, feel free. And good luck! Alison

Sept. 2003

I've just started taking Pilates in hopes of improving my posture. I took one class in the home studio of instructor. It was fine, but I feel like for the amount Im paying ($55/hr) I should be working with someone I really love. The price of lessons also makes it hard to just drop in on classes in hopes of finding the perfect match How have others found the right class? I know a connection is subjective, but are there any instructors that stand out? Is $55-$60 the going rate or are there more affordable options for getting started? Once Im familiar with the equipment are there places that offer cheap group classes? Are there instructures that care as much about breating as alignment (like in yoga)? Also if anyone has any posture success stories I'd be grateful for the encouragement. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Susannah

I can recommend Junko Sodeyama for pilates- she is fabulous. She is so precise and notices everything posture-wise. She emphasizes breathing and technique and has helped me immensely with my posture and alignment. She is also a master trainer and teaches certifications in pilates- definitely way better than your usual pilates teacher. She works out of a home studio (by the way it is a very nice large space with skylights) but the prices are a bit less than most - 50 if you do a package of 5 private training sessions on the equipment, which is what I do. I have found her to be a very pleasant person to work with as well as very knowledgeable. You can reach her at 510-508-1408 or check out the website www.optimumpilates.com andrea

For great private Pilates instruction try Kim Frank. I've taken private lessons in my home from Kim for two years and have dropped 35 pounds, but it looks like 50! Kim's workouts are deep and based on a solid grounding in Joseph Pilates' philosophy and original intention as she is a dancer and world class choreographer. Kim is knowledgeable, personable and FUN! You can reach her at (510) 526-4619 or leanmatwork AT yahoo.com Signed: Liz

April 2003

I've looked through the past recommendations but would like more updated advice on pilate studios around Berkeley. I'm aware of two studios nearby, one on College and another on Solano. I would like some feedback on the studios as well as on any instructors. Additionally, has anyone tried both apparatus and mat-based training and could offer their experience comparing the two? I have a bit of modern dance training which I am looking to supplement with pilates. I'm looking for a way to approach this in a time and cost effective way. Thanks!

I go to Center Stregth on Solano avenue and I love it. I did mat classes for about 4 months before working on the equiptment with a trainer. Though it is not cheap it has done wonders for my back, posture and core strength and I love it. I think almost all the trainers that I worked with at Center Strength have been great but I do have some favorites. You can email me if you are interested. Overall I think the equiptment workout is far superior to mat classes also because of the personalized aspect. But if you just want an introduction to see if it is for you than mat classes are much more cost effective and give you longer to test out how happy you are with that type of workout. ilfeld

I have only done Pilates in mat classes, so I can't speak to how mat classes and the traditional ''apparatus'' compare. However, I highly recommend my Pilates instructor Karen Emery. She teaches private lessons; classes at No Sweat on Solano and also teaches classes at Ashkenas on San Pablo at Gilman. I don't know the times she teaches at No Sweat, but her 1 hour classes at Ashkenas are Saturdays 9 am, Wednesdays 5:30 pm (I think) and Thursdays at 10 am. You can reach her direct ly at 236-5113. She's awesome! Karen

I have used Ellie Herman Studios on Grand Avenue in Oakland. They have both mat classes and private instruction. You can focus on rehabilitation for injury or fitness. The number is 594-8507. anon

Pilates work on the reformer is substantially different and much, much, more effective than the floor work. Other apparatus, like the chair and cadillac are good, though not absolutely necessary for the avarage user. Those devises can are particularly effective for professional level dancers and athletes who can then mimic their specific movements while working out, thereby increasing their expertise at their sport. Many fitness/dance people beleive that the orginal floor work is outdated and does not reflect current thinking on exercise physiology. Pilates training at a studio is never going to be cheap. There are some good video tapes/DVD's that you could do at home in conjunction with a once or twice workout a week with a private Pilates sesssion. Look for the line ''Stott Pilates'', by far the best on the market. As with any type of class or personal training, the expertise of the instructor is the key to your potential level of success. Helene

I have been going to Center Strength on Solano Avenue for about a year now. For the past 6 months, Sara has been my instructor. She is great. Although it is expensive, nothing beats the personal attention of one-on-one apparatus class. Many months ago, I went to the mat class at the YMCA, and it was a waste of time. Way too many people, most with little Pilates experience, so they were doing the poses wrong. Instructor didn't correct positions. I highly recommend Center Strength. The # is 526-3757. Anita

Try Christina Pepper in Albany at 223-1024. She's wonderful and everyone I've recommended has been very happy. melissa

April 2002

Does anyone know of a good pilates class/instructor? I have seen previous recs and would like something more recent. Anywhere in Berkeley would be great. Also if anyone has been to ''No Sweat'' recently and has an instructor to recommend. I'd like to find someone really experienced in pilates who knows what they are doing. Thanks, Rebecca

Karen Emery teaches the Pilates Mat class at No Sweat on Thursdays at noon and is an excellent instructor. I've been attending her classes there for two years and have also enjoyed classes taught by Skye. Both Karen and Skye teach at other locations in the area (Karen at Ashkenaz on Weds. 5:30 pm and Sat. at 9 am, Skye teaches at the Albany Y). These mat-based classes are very reasonable compared to what private Pilates training costs and (I think)equally effective. You can try a drop-in class or take just a few classes at any of these locations and see if it's a good fit for you. Jennifer

Roxanne Moultry teaches at the 'Y' and at Danspace (Hudson and Miles) in Oakland mw 7:30 pm. Her classes are 10$ to drop in and 5 for 45$. I've never taken pilates before, but w/ my background in yoga, find her instruction to be clear and the exercises to be effective and safe. It's pilates mat and pilates bar instruction. My friend who has done pilates previously visited the class and was impressed. Jessica

Call Kim Frank in Albany. She's an excellent Pilates instructor and she comes to you. Call her at 510-526-4619, and prepare your deep abdominals to work! Julie

I know of a good pilates studio/instructor out in Walnut Creek. The studio is called Turning Point and the instructor that I used was named Nora (one of the founders). Naomi is the other founder, I believe. Both instructors worked at the pilates Dancemedicine clinic associated with the Center for Sports Medicine before starting their own studio. I ended up using the Dancemedicine clinic because I had an injury, and pilates rehab was covered there by my insurance. If you decide to go to Turning Point and call directory assistance, make sure you say ''the pilates studio.'' There is another Turning Point in WC that is a therapy practice or something. Alison

November 2001

we just moved to El Cerrito from oakland and I would like to find a yoga and/or pilates class in our area. suggestions??? Danielle

Editor note: see also Yoga Classes

No Sweat, on Solano Ave. in Berkeley offers two pilates classes a week, on Tuesday and Thursday at 12:00 pm. The drop in fee is $10 or you can buy class cards. Also Synergy on Solano Ave. in Albany has a variety of mat and equipment classes, though I have not experienced them personally. The Albany YMCA has a mat class on Mondays at 12:15 with a drop in fee of $12. I would also love to hear about other classes in the area! Hope this helps. melissa

I like the pilates class at the Richmond YMCA... they also have yoga classes which I haven't tried yet. The facility looks beautiful and the people who work there are very kind and professional. It takes me only ten minutes to get there from Arlington/Barrett in El Cerrito. Susan


Can anyone recommend a good pilates class or trainer? I've tried the one at the Berkeley Y and wasn't completely convinced - any other recommendations? (I'm trying to strengthen a weak back). Natasha

I've worked with two Pilates trainers who work out of a studio on Camellia Street, near Urban Ore. I believe Jennifer Morris is still there and she is the last person I trained with. You can either give her a try, or talk to Nanci Pecker who runs the place, and she can recommend someone else. I've known Nanci for a long time and she is very trustworthy when it comes to recommendations. Nanci Pecker, 528-0707. Good luck! Catherine

Is pilates really worth it?

Nov 2008

I'm trying to lose the baby weight/spare tire and shelf after a c section. I've lost the weight but the flabby skin is still there. (Baby is only 10 weeks old, but the same thing happened and never really got better after the first.) I've heard wonderful things about pilates, but I wonder if its really worth it? Its SO expensive. I would be willing to do it if it really helps but it's not a cheap thing to try. Also, how often do you have to do it? Is once a week okay or not good enough? Finally, is there a cheap(er) pilates place around? they are all so crazy expensive. Thanks. spare tire

Pilates is great. IT'll strengthen you like nothing else. Yes, it's really expensive. I dont' know of any inexpensive studios. You need to do it two times per week one on one to start. AFter you learn the equipment and your routine you can do ''independants''...work out by yourself. It's way cheaper. Also after a few sessions you can do mat classes which are also cheaper. I wouldn't do mat classes as a beginner. You can hurt yourself if you dont' know the proper positioning of your spine, breathing, etc.

With your trainer you will learn basic exercises that you can do at home, so you can actually do it every day to add to your workout.

Bottom line....if you are not eating properly and drinking lots of water you will not lose weight with Pilates or anything else. It's also important to do some cardio during the week. EVen a brisk walk (w/ babe?) is adequate. Pilates has changed my life and body. Worth it. I recommend Synergy FItness(The D'Amour Method) at the bottom of Solano in Albany. Good luck. Pilates fan

Yes, Pilates is a great postpartum workout and will help with re-educating the pelvic floor, finding your deep abdominals, postural issues, etc. These are all of the things that a new Mom should be addressing as you get back into exercise and start working on your body again. I teach a Pilates for Moms class for $25.00 in Alameda and do duets with other Moms for $35.00 so that Moms on a budget can still benefit from Pilates. You can call the studio at 510-523-1900 or email me at suzanne [at] probalancept.com ProBalance Pilates

I would check out the Dailey Method on Piedmont Ave. http://thedaileymethod.com/ They have a new client special, $100 for the first month, unlimited. It's a great way to kickstart the toning. I buy their biggest package now and classes are only $16; more affordable than pilates and more effective than yoga. I've been doing it for almost year now, can't really afford it, but would not be willing to give up the changes in my body. Daily Method Devotee

I had a c-section many years ago and just discovered pilates. I don't think it's going to take away the extra weight, but it will really help you prevent low back injuries because the need to rebuild your pelvic wall after a c-section is so very important. The spare tire you refer to is going to come off through diet and exercise, but even then, I exercise a lot and there is some loose skin above the scar. If you join the Y, you can take all the pilates classes free with your membership. There is financial assistance available. Good luck! same issues!

Hi spare tire, I've done various exercise programs over the years, including about six months of floor and reformer pilates; I tend to get bored with things after a time and try something new. In my opinion virtually all pilates programs are overpriced; I also think that many of the claims maid by pilates marketers are either overstated or just plain bs (i.e. it will make you taller/make your muscles longer, you won't need to do cardio because pilates will rev up your metabolism automatically, etc...).

For general body fitness I've gotten just as good results from cross training, tai chi, or yoga. Pilates does work some deep torso muscles that are difficult to target, but a good hatha yoga program does this too and most yoga classes are much cheaper. I have nothing agains Pilates; lots of people get good results with it and thats fine. In any case if you do pilates I'd reccomend some cardio as well. Ben

There are some pilates moves you do not want to do right away--anything with a twist or jackknifing movement, too hard on your healing abs. I would recommend seeing a good post-natal yoga teacher like Melanie at Berkeley Yoga Center, and get yourself a good post-natal pilates dvd to do at home. After you feel healed up, look for a yoga class with a core focus, like Laura's at Monkey Yoga. I have the Gaia Pilates dvd (Intermediate with Anna Cabon) and it is really good. s. carter

Pilates is all about strengthening your core muscles. This includes your stomach as well as your pelvic floor. So it is ideally suited to help your body recover after childbirth. Since this is a class rather than a one-on-one training session the cost is only $150 to $200 (your choice) for a ten session coupon to be used at your convenience. In addition to being a certified Pilates instructor I have also been trained to address the special needs of pregnant women and new mothers. We have a wonderful babysitter. During class the babies are in the same room as the exercising mothers so no one needs to feel separation anxiety and at the end of the workout we do baby dancing and massage, so they have a good time as well. For more information please check out my website at, www.karencasino.com. Karen C.

I have been taking Pilates for 6 months and have seen a huge difference in my body shape, strength and stamina. I am 5'1 and played soccer for 13 years. So I was pretty stocky. The pilates has helped me achieve a leaner more toned body. I hit a wall in my weight loss and the Pilates helped me to shed 3 more pounds. Also, it's helped me to maintain my posture when running. My balance is better and my stomache has taken shape like I have always wanted. I only take class once a week to supplement my other fitness activities. I own Hipline Belly Dance Studio on College @ Alcatraz. myhipline.com We offer Pilates as well. We have great instructors for beginners. Good luck! Gabriela

I am a big pilates fan, and before I was pregnant did lots of it and thought it was everything that everyone says about it. Amazing! But after my first child I tried to go back to a regular class and it is impossible, I've lost so much muscle tone, I just need a way more basic work out. So I would worry that you might not get much out of it right now? How about either shelling out for a really great post partum pilates teacher - you can find some local ones by googling, or just get videos to start with? too weak for pilates!

At ten weeks postpartum, you still have abdominal muscle laxity, meaning that your muscles are both weak and too long. To rehab your abs, you need to start by building strength, then functional control, in your deepest abdominal layer, your Transverse Abdominis (TvA). After these skills have been (re)established in your body, then you can progress to more traditional exercises like crunches, or most of the Pilates mat and reformer work.

Pilates training can be done in a group setting, or ''mat work'' or on various machines, such as a reformer. Reformer work is mostly done one on one, or in a small group, and accordingly is much more expensive. But you definitely get what you pay for. Body changes happen quickly on the reformer when you're working with a top instructor.

Mat work classes are variable, with results depending on the size of the class, level, and instructor ability. It's OK for more experienced people who have enough of a skill set in the movement vocabulary. But for beginners, not so good. Most beginners need one on one guidance in order to work safely in their bodies.

Pilates exercises demand a certain level of strength and control in the TvA to perform properly, making them unsuitable for most new moms. Additionally, many Pilates exercises utilize upper body flexion (the head float position) which tends to increase the curve in the upper back. Generally after pregnancy, women need to decrease this curve. Postpartum women should perform lower spine flexion exercises instead. In these, and other ways, Pilates is not the ideal exercise modality for women in the initial post baby rehab phase. If you go the Pilates route, only consider someone with extensive experience in postnatal reconditioning who can adapt the exercises to avoid these potential problems. BeFit-Mom

you should try The Dailey Method. There is one on peidmont ave. It's a combo of pilates,yoga and barre work in one hour. there is also baby sitting. I think it's the most effective exercise I have done and also one of the hardest workouts. The teachers are great. You should check out the website. www.thedaileymethod.com

Pilates is definitely worth it. It's worked for me and there is a woman at my gym that has had four c-sections and she has the most sculpted abs I've ever seen on anyone in person. She told me she had been doing pilates for a long time. If you are on a budget, you could check out dvd's from the library...sorry I can't recommend a specific one, but classes are also offered at the YMCA. anon

Many gyms have affordable Pilates classes, so it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money on Pilates. My gym has an ab work-out class that is better than a Pilates class. And, all gyms have weight machines that will get your abs toned even faster than Pilates classes. There is also a work-out DVD for abs that you can follow at home to save even more money. Slim

Yes. You should try Pilates, but work with an instructor who specializes in working with new Moms. I worked with Suzanne Koval at ProBalance in Alameda. You get a lot out of these classes and you will feel and see the difference. The Pilates studio is at 510-523-1900 or you can check out http://www.probalancept.com Pilates Mama

When I did Pilates in conjunction with giving up my habit of snacking on sweets, I saw pretty dramatic results in a relatively short period of time, three or four months. I lost a lot of abdominal fat that I thought was never going away after having two kids. And I found it interesting to learn about the core muscles and how they are activated all the time even for the simplest of movements or activities. I definitely recommend Pilates as a great addition to a fitness routine. As far as frequency, I did one Pilates class per week and if I could I would do a short 15 minute Pilates routine at home daily. I didn't always manage that, but doing it often really helps.

For more affordable Pilates classes, I recommend Sophia Thorsen Pilates. Her web site is http://www.sophiathorsenpilates.com . I like her style, she is low-key but thorough in the exercises she takes you through. She has a very nice studio on Telegraph near 51st with free parking available. Loves Pilates

for the poster who asked if pilates is really worth it i would like to give some feedback both as a pilates teacher and mom (yes, i am very expert in the pre and postnatal field). I absolutely think pilates is worth it. Generally, it is expensive because you are working on on one with a trainer- but many studio offer small group classes. Like with massage therapist not everyone who is a practitioner is good and a lot of people have recently gone into it.

a couple of guidelines about starting an exercise regime after birth- give yourself a little time. Your skin needs to shrink back- and while exercise will tone your muscles- your skin needs time to shrink. activating your pelvic floor and deep abdominals (transversus abdominis) is good to condition your body and help your body heal from the stress of childbirth. Also, good for the sex life! I personally found that i needed a lot of work to strengthen my back after pregnancy and breastfeeding- nothing like heavy boobs weighing one down! so a lot of erector spinae exercises felt really good. But, beware of one size fits all post natal solutions-not everyone fits the usual profile of what generally happens to most women during pregnancy- be sure you are with a pilates teacher who sees you- and i mean really sees your body.

Now to some thing specific about your post- it sounds like perhaps loose skin is more your issue than poochy abs? sometimes loose skin is not something that can be solved without surgery no matter how toned you are underneath. i have seen a lot of women postpartum and sometimes when you have a lot of stretch marks and loose skin there is nothing i can do to help- even when thin and fit. Losing weight is a whole different issue- a lot of clients i have had over the years have said that pilates helped them loose weight. I always recommend some cardio as well or walking. i think the important thing is to do something you enjoy that makes you feel good about yourself and take can become a part of your lifestyle.

I am not taking clients myself, but a teacher i respect who specializes in pre and post partum fitness is Caitlin Smith (508-1408). She also teaches a lot of affordable small group classes on the reformer. She is a doula as well, which i think makes for a nice combination. I think she really gets it! I am happy to answer question or emails andrea