Tucked inside an unassuming storefront in Peachtree City are chains, racks, a guillotine, and even an electric chair. But this is no well-appointed dungeon. ProperPilates Studio is about alleviating pain, not inflicting it.
“I usually get people who come to me that are already injured, ProperPilates owner Andrea Chesek said. “They usually have bad backs, and they can’t find any other form of workout.” Although Pilates was designed to be an exercise system, Andrea said people flocked to it because it helped them get through any type of injury they had and get stronger doing it.
“There's no reason people should have to live life in pain,” she said.
And what about the scary equipment? Pilates clients through the years have nicknamed the pieces. For example, the electric chair is used to stabilize the pelvis; the Cadillac, aka the trapeze table or tower, is used to decompress the spine and square people off since most people tend to favor one side of the body; the reformer uses springs for horizontal exercises, and the guillotine uses springs for vertical exercises. “Each piece of equipment is to help you understand how to move through space with control,” Andrea said. “People struggle with understanding how to push and pull through space because you can’t feel air, but you can feel a spring.”
Often confused with yoga, the primary focus of Pilates is to strengthen the core, predominantly using spring resistance. There are about 1,000 different exercises with variations for each. Founder Joseph Pilates used the methods and techniques he developed to rehabilitate injured soldiers during WWI.
“It’s really a lifestyle, and you have to be consistent to prevent future injuries in any kind of activity you do, up to and including life,” Andrea said. “Many people pull their backs out getting out of bed, picking up a golf ball, an object off the floor or their children, so this is really to strengthen that awareness so that you move through space consciously.”
A native of El Paso, Andrea spent several years abroad, finishing high school in Buenos Aires and college near Rome. But it was after a move to Orlando that she discovered the effectiveness of Pilates. Born with diastasis recti, a separation between the two sides of the abdominal wall, Pilates not only strengthened her core but helped her achieve the fit abs she could not with other forms of exercise. “It’s like wearing a corset, but you’re doing it with your own muscles,” Andrea said.
Her personal results inspired Andrea to help others achieve their fitness goals. She became a certified instructor after moving to Atlanta in 2006 and opened her Peachtree City studio several years later.
ProperPilates offers private sessions, group mat classes, and ball and sculpt classes. All focus on strengthening the core and improving flexibility, to promote a better fitness foundation. Perhaps the hardest step is getting started. With a minor in psychology, Andrea knows the importance of the mind in getting fit. “It’s the thing that gets you started. It's harder to get past the mental blockages than it is the physical ones. It's like telling myself I have to go workout, but I don't really want to, but once I do, I'm glad I did.”
Andrea believes many people are miseducated about what Pilates is, adding that it’s nothing like yoga. It’s also not just for women. “They (men) take a session and fall in love with it because it was created by a man for men.”
ProperPilates clients range from 13 to 80. For athletes and dancers, Andrea said Pilates will make whatever they do better. For older clients, Pilates improves balance and prevents falls, which lessens the chance of broken bones.
Andrea said there’s less chance of injury doing Pilates versus going to the gym but added that also depends on the knowledge and experience of the teacher. And although Pilates is generally not considered aerobic exercise, clients do get sweaty.
So, what can you expect on your first visit to ProperPilates? “A lot of information,” Andrea said. “The first visit is really trying to put yourself in your own body and understanding how much mental use you need in order to tell your body what to do. In the beginning that can be overwhelming.”
She recommends beginning with several private sessions, especially for those with injuries so they can gain awareness of what they need to do. “It's more than just a list of exercises that are given to people,” Andrea said. “It needs to be applied correctly. It's a system that's put together to benefit the individual so that they are successful.”
For more information about ProperPilates, visit www.properpilatesstudio.com or call 678-561-3872.