Power-House Pilates: Changing Minds and Bodies

-Jennifer Belcher

Pilates helps to strengthen your core, flexibility and balance.

“The studio down the hallway.”  For me that is what Power-House Pilates was for the two years I’ve been coming to the Brunswick Center.  I have always wanted to try Pilates…always.  More often than not when interviewed for fitness magazines, ballerinas, models, and long-limbed actresses will tout the impact Pilates has had on their overall health and fitness journey.  Forever I have associated Pilates with women (and men) who had long lean bodies and flexibility to die for.  While I had always pined away for that type of body, I never quite felt good enough, lean enough, or flexible enough (I can’t even touch my toes) to engage in that specific workout regime.  

A week ago, however, I decided to put my reservations and fears aside and take my chances at the “studio down the hallway” in the Brunswick Center.  The benefits of Pilates (strength, flexibility, enhanced core, balance, etc.) had to outweigh any risks of me looking like a complete fool in front of the instructor, right?

As I entered the brightly lit and meticulously clean studio, I was in awe at the various pieces of equipment around the space. Lining the room in perfect symmetry were mats, wooden reformers, and other pieces of equipment you don’t see in your typical workout studio.  Standing in silhouette against the sun-filled windows was what I would learn is the Cadillac reformer, or trapeze table, with bars, straps, and coils.  In my mind I had always envisioned Pilates being various exercises on floor mats.  However, I was immediately intrigued and excited as my eyes took in the retro style machines.  “We get to play!” I thought.

Morwen practicing a pose on the Cadillac Reformer

Having now had two private Pilates sessions with Morwen, owner and instructor at the studio, I can tell you that Pilates is unlike any workout I have ever experienced.  Over the course of 55 minutes, Morwen took me through a series of exercises on the reformer and tower Cadillac that challenged me, relaxed me, and filled me with curiosity.

Being brand new to anything Pilates, I found that many of the moves required coordination and body positions that I have never been asked to do in any other form of exercise. Morwen informed me that the creator of Pilates specifically designed the exercises in a way that challenged your brain as well as your body in an attempt to keep you mindful at all times.  Because of this mind-body connection, I felt certain that tiny muscle groups that I’ve never worked out before were definitely getting used (something I have often heard about Pilates). 

Through a combination of stretches, unique breathing patterns, quick and slow movements, and held positions, my body engaged in a unique workout that I cannot compare to any other form of exercise. There were times I felt like I was going to die as I performed a series of slightly different movements that targeted the same muscles groups until my body felt like jelly.  In sharp juxtaposition, these exercises would be followed by several stretches that Morwen led me through that resulted in that same Zen-like feeling you get during yoga.  Additionally, sliding, standing, and swinging from the equipment were just downright fun and really spoke to my inner child.

Pilates allows one to work on strength and flexibility simultaneously.

I’ve now completed two private sessions with Morwen and I have to tell you…I’m hooked.  As someone who has struggled with balance and flexibility my whole life, I’m rather upset with myself for being too intimidated for so many years by what I deemed to be the elusive and elite Pilates workout.  After each session, I have felt equally invigorated by a workout that has truly pushed my physical limits and relaxed by the stretching and breathing work also involved.  It is a post-workout sensation unlike any other.  Additionally, when I feel the small random muscles that are sore for a few days after my session, I know that it is the missing component of a truly full-body workout in my regular routine.

Morwen Banq, owner and instructor, began studying for her Pilates certification in 2002.

Although Pilates is often associated with dancers, models, and actresses, I was able to learn more about the history of Pilates and how it started during my sessions. Joseph H. Pilates, founder, developed the exercise program to actually help bedridden hospital patients exercise and work on their mobility. It wasn’t until later that it would become a craze for dancers around the world. To learn more about the history of Pilates click here: https://www.pilates.com/BBAPP/V/pilates/origins-of-pilates.html

Morwen’s beautiful studio is located on the third floor of the Brunswick Center in Jersey City.  In addition to offering 30 min and 55 min private sessions, she provides duet sessions and small group classes. If you have ever wanted to try Pilates but have been intimidated, you can sample it through her $99.00 new student package which offers three privates lessons.  As someone who avoided Pilates for years out of fear of “not being good enough,” I promise you won’t regret it.  For more information, visit https://www.power-housepilates.com/

Power House Pilates is located on the third floor of the Brunswick Center.