World-renowned Pilates instructor Pat Guyton has been bringing a deep exploration into Pilates—with an emphasis on functional movement—to her instruction and practice for decades. She opened Boulder’s first Pilates studio in 1986 and, along with business partner and fellow instructor Heather Carey, today Pat continues to foster Boulder’s vibrant Pilates community through a style that is empathetic, rejuvenating and enriching down to its most elemental level.
What has your personal journey with Pilates been?
Pat: I’ve always been active and moving. I’ve also always been interested in science, and Pilates captured my attention because I found it to be a comprehensive education in movement that is beneficial for all people. For many years I worked with injured patients at an osteopathic clinic in a small studio and, throughout this time, I continued to study with multiple students of Joe Pilates, the practice’s founder. I opened our current studio in 2015.
Heather: I’d given up on participating in team sports because of persistent knee injuries during my youth soccer career. I began practicing Pilates to rehabilitate my body and found it helpful in many ways. I had never felt a deep connection within my body until doing Pilates. I became committed to digging deeper into Pilates and was referred to Pat, who I insistently trained with until she agreed to mentor me!
What is unique about teaching Pilates in Boulder specifically?
Pat: When Pilates was introduced here, everyone practiced it because it was new. But once they experienced it they understood it wasn’t just a fun fitness fad—it’s a solid foundation for life. Pilates is for everybody, and I have clients who have been practicing here in Boulder for over 25 years.
What are some benefits of practicing Pilates?
Heather: Flexibility, strength, balance, mobility and articulation of the spine with concentration and awareness. These are things I didn’t realize I didn’t know and couldn’t apply before practicing Pilates with Pat.
Pat: Pilates results in better organization of the bones, muscles and organs, and is a tool for attaining a body that can reach a higher level of achievement. Pilates movement can be educative, rehabilitative and increase athletic performance.
What do you focus on in your Pilates instruction?
Heather: Joe Pilates used to say, “You’re only as young as your spine is flexible!” That’s the mantra at our studio. We include all ranges of motion in our sessions and focus on cues that are anatomically equivalent to foster functional movement. We do this with simple and fun images that allow for more accurate movement and results in the body.
Pat: The body works as a total holistic unit, and we take a personalized approach when assessing our clients’ individual goals. Whether they’re high-performance athletes, have chronic injuries or are simply feeling de-conditioned, we assess and develop training plans suited for them. Students tell us that they leave the studio feeling elongated, balanced, awake, energized and eager for the rest of their day.
What makes the Pat Guyton Pilates studio unique?
Heather: We like to think of our studio as a “laboratory,” a collaborative effort between the client and teacher. Our mission is to preserve the practice of Pilates with additional consideration for functional movement and current science. Personally, I also strive to preserve Pat’s lineage of teaching. She teaches with real kindness, allowing the individual to learn at their own pace and feel empowered about their own body.