Business

Mercer Island Pilates opens

Leslie Allahyari, left, the owner of the newly opened Mercer Island Pilates, works with Tracey McCarthy, performing an exercise on a Pilates reformer. McCarthy will also be instructing at the new studio. - Linda Ball/Staff Photo
Leslie Allahyari, left, the owner of the newly opened Mercer Island Pilates, works with Tracey McCarthy, performing an exercise on a Pilates reformer. McCarthy will also be instructing at the new studio.
— image credit: Linda Ball/Staff Photo

Pilates is nothing new; in fact its founder, Joseph Pilates, migrated from Germany to the United States in 1925, bringing his method of exercise first to New York City.

His method, which he and his wife, Clara, originally called Contrology, relates to the use of the mind to control muscles.

“Using your mind to control muscles extends back to the ancient Greeks,” said Leslie Allahyari, the owner of the newly opened Mercer Island Pilates.

Pilates focuses on core postural muscles that help keep the human body balanced and provide support for the spine. In authentic Pilates, which is Pilates taught as Joseph himself would have taught it, the abdomen, buttocks and inner thighs are all part of the core, which is referred to as the powerhouse.

Pilates exercises also teach the student awareness of breathing, alignment of the spine, and it strengthens the deep torso and abdominal muscles.

“Joe would train boxers and Clara would teach ballerinas,” Allahyari said.

One of the ballerinas Clara trained, Romana Kryzanowska, carried on the Pilates teachings. She was their chosen protegee. Early instructors were trained by her. Both Allahyari and the other instructor at Mercer Island Pilates, Tracey McCarthy, trained with master teacher Dorothee Vandewalle, who was trained by Kryzanowska.

Allahyari has worked at other studios in the Seattle area, but lives on Mercer Island with her husband and five children, ages 24, 22, 20, 11 and 9.

“It was time to go out on my own,” Allahyari said. “I started doing Pilates myself because I was looking for strength and flexibility.”

She said she started out doing mat classes, but soon became hooked on the reformer, a piece of resistance exercise equipment designed by Joseph Pilates.

A reformer consists of a platform that moves back and forth along a carriage. Resistance is provided by the exerciser’s body weight and by springs attached to the carriage and platform. Mercer Island Pilates has three reformers along with three wall units and one cadillac, a piece of equipment that Joseph Pilates designed for bed-ridden patients, but has many uses.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, your age or condition — anyone can do Pilates,” Allahyari said. “It’s proven, it’s not a fad.”

If you look at pictures of Joseph Pilates, even in his 80s, the guy was unbelievably fit.

Mercer Island Pilates is on the corner of 80th Avenue S.E. and S.E. 30th Street at 3003 80th Ave. S.E. Right now an introductory private instruction package is $250 for five private sessions. Semi-private instruction, wall unit classes and mat classes are also available.

Call (206) 920-0611 or email leslie@mercerislandpilates.com to schedule an appointment or to inquire about class times.

 

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