Meghan Del Prete is a regular customer at Uncommon Grounds in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. We’ve seen her stopping by at all hours carrying a mat and sporting workout gear. We wondered whether she was a yoga-obsessionist or highly dedicated to some other form of meditative art. Turns out Meghan is a full-time Pilates instructor and business owner whose studio; Reform Pilates, is located in the Lofts at 18 Division Street in Saratoga Springs. Here’s a little chat we had with Meghan about how she found Pilates and what it’s like to run her studio in Saratoga Springs.
Uncommon Grounds (UG): What led you to Pilates?
Meghan Del Prete (MDP): I was a Dance Major at Skidmore College and began taking the Pilates mat classes offered in the department. I was amazed at how much Pilates changed my body and improved my dancing. I quickly became hooked!
UG: Has working with fitness always been your goal?
MDP: Since I was 4 years old I have loved to dance, and growing up it kept me very active. I was lucky to continue dancing in college. I had a double major though and after graduating I was able to get a job at a graphic design firm doing Production Management and Marketing. It was a fun job, and I learned so much about that field, and running a small business. But after a few years of sitting at a desk all day I realized that I was happier doing something that kept me moving. Pilates felt like the perfect fit for me. The method is very similar to the way you train your body in ballet so it felt natural for me. Initially, I loved the idea of working with dancers because of how much Pilates had helped my own dancing. But as I learned more about Pilates and saw amazing results with all kinds of bodies and injuries I became very excited about having such a wide array of bodies to work with. It means the work will never become boring!
UG: Tell us how “not all Pilates” is the same?
MDP: The Pilates method was started by Joseph Pilates, who called his work Contrology. He spent his life developing this exercise system, and before he died, he asked Romana Kryzanowska to continue his life’s work, teaching Pilates around the world, which she has. Joe died in 1967 at the age of 87 and since then has not developed any new exercises. (Joe never did Pilates on a ball or a BOCU.) Many people he trained or his teachers trained fell in love with Pilates and began teaching the method as well, sometimes incorporating their own variations, and many of them started to offer their own Pilates Certification. A lot of variations on the work have been very good with nice results. But there are some variations that have injured people, which should never happen with Pilates. Obviously, this can give Pilates a bad reputation. Unfortunately, “Pilates” is not trademarked, so although a lot of variations on the method have been “inspired by Pilates” legally they do not have to be called something else.
To be a Pilates Instructor there is no license required or standard in the industry for certification. It is possible to become certified online or attend a weekend workshop. Wherever you take a Pilates class, it is important to find out what the instructor’s certification is. Pilates is not something you can learn in a couple weeks time, or simply by practicing on your own. A good certification program requires passing a test to demonstrate an intermediate level of proficiency to begin, is a minimum of 600 hours spent in the studio training under the supervision of Master Teacher Trainers, includes in-depth testing at various points in the program and awards certification based on an individual’s readiness, not simply a number of hours spent in classes.
UG: Are classes taught in sequence or can people jump in at any time?
MDP: We offer various levels of ongoing mat classes, so you could start at any time. Pilates is very different from other forms of exercise though, so regardless of how physically fit you are we always suggest starting with Private sessions. This allows the instructor to tailor the workout for your body’s needs, and modify the exercises accordingly. In a group mat class you just don’t get that kind of individual attention, which is essential to learning the method safely and correctly.
UG: When did you move into your current studio and how has the move affected your business?
MDP: The studio opened at the Lofts last July. It has been great to have more space! In our old location we had to move the apparatus into the hallway so we had space to have mat class. Now we are able to have more than one class happening at once. That makes it easier to accommodate our client’s schedules. We also have a shower room, so clients are able to schedule class on their lunch break, shower and go back to work if they want. Also being located in a Condo building has brought in business from lots of people that live or work here.
UG: Have you considered working with other teachers?
MDP: Yes, now that we have room in the new studio, I am working with other teachers. This is something I am really excited to offer my clients. All of the instructors are certified through Romana’s Pilates(TM), so we are teaching the same thing (which is important!) but with different perspectives. From my training in NYC I saw how valuable it was to take lessons with all of the instructors. Working with different instructors at the studio will give you a more well-rounded workout and guarantee that you will not get bored! We may each take a slightly different focus for your workout, or we may choose different exercises to achieve the same goal. Sometimes even the way one teacher explains a concept you have heard 100 times before makes sense in a new way when you hear it explained with different words. I am so happy to offer this kind of studio experience to my clients.
UG: What are your long-term goals?
MDP: Moving to our new space and growing our staff were two goals I have had for awhile, and am so excited to see them taking shape. From here I would like to keep growing our business and what we can offer to our clients and community. There are a lot of ideas I have for bringing in guest teachers and offering workshops and programs for specialized groups, like different types of athletes or specific injuries. Soon we are starting to become part of The Dancer Advantage Program. This was started by a Romana’s Pilates Instructor in NYC, and studios around the world are participating. The program offers private and semi-private sessions for dancers at a discounted rate. It is an exciting opportunity that will allow a dancer to continue taking discounted Pilates in any city they travel to. There is a possibility of scholarships as well, which is even more exciting.
UG: Any advice for folks looking to improve their health or fitness?
MDP: Do Pilates! Obviously I am biased, but I have seen it really work in amazing ways. The beauty of Pilates is how efficient the workout is. In 20 minutes you can work the entire body. It does not have to be a huge sacrifice of time or money, and it does not have to be miserable. Pilates does not hurt!
If Pilates is not for you, I think the important thing is to keep moving! Find something you love that fits with your lifestyle, then working out will never be a chore.
Contact Meghan at meghan(at)reformyourbody(dot)com or 518-871-1315 to find out about some exciting introductory deals that Reform Pilates is offering throughout the month of June!