Healthy Obsession: Pilates

Step into Suzanne Danilek’s Pilates class and it’s apparent that she has true passion for the sport.

While Pilates has been around for some time, Danilek puts her own spin on her classes: emphasizing music and incorporating ballet, props, and muscular structure movements. We asked Danilek what Pilates is all about and what distinguishes her style from the rest.

Why include music?
I’m a huge music enthusiast and music’s a very important part of my classes. Years ago, Pilates was taught without music, which was thought to help students focus. Studies now show music actually encourages focus and fluid graceful movement. It inspires and makes class much more fun.

How did you get into Pilates?

I’ve been a fitness instructor since college, but taught more traditional classes like aerobics and strength training until my mentor, Pam Phillips Weston, suggested I study Pilates. I’ve been studying it ever since. Thanks Pam, I’m hooked for life! I try very hard to personalize each class I teach.

What does Pilates do for your physical and mental health?
Pilates strengthens the core and creates long lean muscles. Most people don’t realize “core” means all muscles attached to the spine, not just abdominals. Hip and back muscles are also used extensively in Pilates, making it an excellent choice for overall body conditioning, improving posture and reducing lower back pain. The results are truly amazing. The exercises are a good way to learn how to coordinate movement with breath and center your body physically and mentally.

Can anyone do Pilates? Are there restrictions?

I believe everyone should do Pilates! I’ve worked with grade school children, tri-athletes, elderly people, and everyone in between. Of course, double check with your doctor before starting any fitness program. To get started, find a well-qualified instructor in your area. Some of my favorite resources are Balanced Body and The Pilates Method Alliance. Both sites have easy to use studio-locators.

What kind of equipment is needed?
One of the best things about Pilates is that all you really need is your body, your mind, and a comfortable surface. I once did Pilates on the floor of a tiny hotel room, practically wedged between a bed and the wall, as that was all the space available!

Suzanne Danilek, Winnetka
Suzanne has been teaching Pilates on the North Shore for over 11 years.  She currently teaches matwork classes at the Winnetka Community House and privately.  For more information contact her at [email protected]