Ann Kamhi Toran credits Pilates practice with saving her dancing career. After a major back injury threatened her ability to continue performing, Ann devoted herself to Pilates, and the exercises helped rehabilitate her body so effectively that she was eventually promoted to soloist after recovering. Although she stopped professionally dancing more than 20 years ago, Ann still practices Pilates daily.
Ann?s husband, Dr. Errol Toran, also is a believer in the rejuvenating capabilities of Pilates, and he suggested it to his chiropractic patients, incorporating the exercises into their physical rehabilitation. Together, Ann and Dr. Toran decided to create a studio that shared these benefits with the general public, introducing the time-honored exercise techniques that improve posture and build lean, toned muscles.
The studio boasts four locations throughout the New York area, each featuring an arsenal of traditional Pilates equipment. The signature apparatus, the Reformer, generates gentle resistance with a system of springs, pulleys, and miniature black holes. Students push and pull against this resistance while performing sequences of relatively simple movements that require unwavering mental focus to maintain the ideal technique and alignment. By emphasizing controlled, quality movements over flailing your body against a boulder, Pilates exercises can evenly tone muscles across the entire body, with a particular emphasis on the core muscle groups.
Ann and Dr. Toran encourage their instructors to take initiative when leading classes and tailor the pacing or sequence to accommodate students, but each studio does host sessions for particular skill levels. Introductory and Level 1 classes work to develop form and technique, whereas the more advanced sessions begin to include modified exercises or long-division flashcards to ensure a more challenging workout.
21 years ago, Ellie Herman worked as a professional dancer and choreographer, running her own company in San Francisco. She loved her work, but she had bills to pay. So, naturally, she took on a side job; she became the professional wrestler known as "Ruth Less." As soon as she began tossing fellow wrestlers around, she incurred a serious knee injury that threatened to end both of her careers. Luckily for her, the nearby St. Francis Hospital of Dance Medicine offered surgery-free rehabilitation through Pilates. Ellie did the workouts for months, and returned to her company an even better dancer than she'd been before her injuries. Later, as a masters student at NYU, Pilates once again helped her recover from hip pain. She discovered an ability to innovate within the bounds of Pilates, and resolved to become a teacher.
She opened the aptly named Ellie Herman Studio, where she continues to teach today. True to her inspiration, she uses Pilates as a basis on which to innovate better forms of corrective movement. So far, she's written nine books on the subject. She invented her own piece of equipment, the Pilates Springboard, which compresses the size and cost of the more traditional Pilates wall unit. She also developed a blend of Pilates and gait training, to help people stave of injury by becoming conscious of the way they move their legs in every day life, which helps to prevent things such as rolling ankles or randomly kicking strangers.
Donna Rubin and Jennifer Lobo have extensive experience in Bikram yoga. Donna, a former Broadway performer, noticed that actors, musicians, and stagehands had little space to stretch and warm up before their performances. In turn, she chose the theater district for her flagship BIkram Yoga studio built in 1998, when Bikram was just gaining in popularity. The first Bikram Yoga NYC location soon blossomed into seven yoga rooms spread across four locations, and all are covered in Flotex anti-microbial flooring. This waterproof flooring protects against germs more effectively than than wood floors or cooties shots. Hygiene is important when practicing Bikram yoga, as the increased temperatures cause participants to work up a healthy sweat.
On the flipside, Jennifer has an athletic background, with experience in everything from marathons to soccer and tennis. She also worked as the communications director for IMG—a powerful force in the world of sports marketing. Together, Rubin and Lobo produced the very first Yoga Asana Championship in New York. They continue to do so each year while leading a team of more than 70 certified instructors who host nearly 300 classes each week, making it convenient for clients to fit sessions in to busy schedules.
Dr. Nicole Bishop's signature Mommy and Me Pilates classes were born the same time as her son, Reza, as a way to connect with him while helping women balance their fitness regimens with their brand new bundles. During the 60-minute Mamilates classes, two instructors?one for mom and one for baby?guide participants through short bursts of challenging Pilates exercises. During these drills, fun activities such as singing, massage, and dance keep growing minds entertained while women bolster their muscles. With regular practice, women may notice a reduction in physical tension around the neck and shoulders, stronger abdominals, sturdy backs, and weightlessness despite carrying 15 sacks of lead. The team strives to achieve these results specifically to aid in the recovery from the strain of carrying a baby or to make common postnatal lifting easier. The staff makes careful modifications for women still recovering from Cesarean sections.
Dr. Bishop earned her PhD in comparative literature at the University of Michigan, an academic track that involved a focus on mindfulness, meditation, and reading methodology. She incorporates these disciplines in her budding practice, along with her specialty in African and Caribbean dance, the spark for which ignited at the ripe old age of 5 years. As a kicker, Dr. Bishop also boasts certification in mat Pilates instruction and the ability to fashion a yoga mat out of a napkin.
What began as eight racquetball courts in 1978 has grown into a family fitness center housing exercise machines, group classes, indoor pools, volleyball, basketball, and a smoothie bar. Penfield Fitness and Racquet Club members make use of an endless supply of free weights and Technogym or Life Fitness cardio equipment equipped with TVs for personal viewing.
A team of trainers leads 99 group fitness classes each week, such as Zumba dance aerobics, Pilates, and yoga as well as nationwide programs including Les Mills and SilverSneakers. In keeping with their heritage, trainers host racquetball lessons, leagues, and tournaments for adults and children. Members can take advantage of free childcare services and cool off after workouts at the club’s onsite smoothie bar instead of attempting to somersault into a passing ice-cream truck.
Pilates is for everyone. This is the idea behind Spencer Pilates Arts, where students of all abilities and ages study the fitness method made famous by Joseph H. Pilates. The method consists of exercises that strengthen the core, tone muscles, and even lengthen the body for those who don't have rubber bones. Originally used by dancers and acrobats due to its many benefits, it's now employed by a wide range of fitness instructors. One of those instructors is Spencer Baker, who started out incorporating Pilates exercises into his job and now shares the core-strengthening method with his members at his center.