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Ready Set Stretch - New Pilates Studio Opens Downtown
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Monica Harris, owner of the newly opened Oakdale Pilates Studio, demonstrates a resistance move on one of the five spring boards in her North Second Avenue studio location. The studio first opened early this month. - photo by Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Monica Harris is no stranger to physical fitness and the effects everyday life, as well as activity has on the body. Now in her 15th as a practitioner of Pilates, Harris is poised and ready to share her knowledge and teachings with the community of Oakdale and the surrounding areas.

In mid-August Harris had a ‘soft’ opening to her new facility, Oakdale Pilates Studio at 145 N. Second, Suite 7 in Oakdale. By mid-September the facility was up and running, with classes to keep her busy all day.

Harris’ experience ranges from Spin Instructor, marathon running, triathlete to cyclist, but it is Pilates which keeps her body the most healthy.

The business owner was first introduced to Pilates ‘beyond the mat’ eight years ago. Prior to that she had practiced mat Pilates on a regular basis.

According to Harris she was encouraged by instructor and fellow fitness enthusiast Leslie Bender to enroll in a Pilates Instructor Certification class. At the time Harris was also a Certified Personal Trainer and the idea intrigued her.

“She was fantastic,” Harris said. “I learned more from her than any other certification instructor. The machinery gives the client the ability to adapt. You can aggress it or regress an exercise.”

The ‘machinery’ she addresses is a Spring Board mounted to the studio wall, which offers the client manageable resistance and a Reformer designed for Pilates to aid in ease of movement.

“When I first started I noticed a difference in my posture immediately,” she said. “The reformer allowed me to increase my mobility and flexibility.

“It’s just been crazy,” Harris added of her initial month of business. “I’m receiving calls daily. People are excited and very interested in learning about what we offer.”

According to the instructor class sizes for a mat class can be as small as two to five members. Group classes are typically 50 minutes and every new student goes home with homework and a rubber ball for ‘rolling.’

“Form is really important,” she said. “I believe if people are paying to be here they should be shown to do it correctly.”

Harris identifies her demographic as ages from 20 to 90, stating the practice of Pilates is not age specific.

“Classes are continuous,” she said. “We don’t take breaks. You’re working your whole body, through the whole class.

“If someone wanted to sweat in Pilates we could make them sweat, but that’s really not the objective.”

Before a new client begins class with Harris, she meets with them to do an overall assessment. Reviewing past injury, specific interests or needs of the client, as well as any specific goals are among the topics.

Tricia Holden of Modesto has been practicing Pilates for five years and followed Harris from her former Modesto location to Oakdale.

“The best part is I talked my husband into coming,” Holden said. “He has arthritis and literally couldn’t move. He’s now been doing it a year. Dried noodles are more flexible than he used to be.”

Harris acknowledged and confirmed that Pilates is the ideal exercise for someone struggling with limited mobility or injury recovery.

“As a cyclist, the muscle knowledge, the awareness of breath has changed how I do things (on the bike),” Harris said. “I had some injuries and was not sure I could recover well. Through the movement of Pilates I was not only able to, but strengthen as well.”

Harris is both a Certified Personal Trainer, as well as a Certified Pilates Instructor. Her studio offers a variety of classes, both individual and group classes. For information or to schedule a session call (209) 204-1700.