By Dominique Sabins, special to the Blog
Vitality Pilates was started by Hilery Avritt in 2000 as private lessons taught in her living room. Her practice quickly grew and she opened her first studio in 2001 in Mount Baker. Vitality Pilates has since grown to 3 locations: Mount Baker, Ravenna, and Phinney Ridge. Hilery founded her business with a dedication to continually teaching people about their bodies with a focus on learning the discipline of Pilates. Her practice embraces the reality that science is constantly evolving and she strives to provide exercises that follow the latest information surrounding health and fitness. Hilery advocates for diverse teaching practices and allows her teachers to follow their passions in the classroom.
Hillery’s Pilates journey began in her 20’s after suffering an injury to her back. She was dealing with chronic pain following her injury for over a year and was looking for something to strengthen her body and ease pain. She sought out physical therapy to help heal her injury, but was still experiencing lingering pain. She finally found relief when a friend introduced her to Pilates. Back in the 90’s Pilates was still an emerging practice and was not very popular in the U.S. Hilery’s friend was among the few exploring this practice. Once she delved in, Pilates helped her gain her strength back and fully heal her back pain.
This experience of suffering with pain at such a young age profoundly impacted Hilery. Her journey through Pilates reshaped her future and inspired her to help other folks dealing with pain by teaching them more about their bodies.
What separates Pilates from other forms of working out?
“Pilates is all about looking inward, not tuning out.” -Hilery
Pilates places a huge focus on building strength in the core and abs to help support the rest of your body. As you practice Pilates, you observe how your muscles naturally move. Other forms of exercise often focus on tuning out, whereas Pilates encourages those practicing to tune into their body.
The practice was originally created by the German physical trainer, Joseph Pilates. After dealing with chronic illness throughout his life, he sought out a form of exercise that leaned into the body’s natural movements to strengthen the muscles.
Pilates is often compared to yoga, and while they share some similarities, such as breath work, the practices greatly differ. Pilates steers away from static stretches and instead focuses on stretching while moving. While forming the practice of Pilates, Joseph Pilates observed animals to document how they move. He noted that animals typically stretch while moving. They almost never hold a static stretch.
I went into Vitality Pilates having never practiced Pilates. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the classes were: the instructors were patient, informative, and accommodating. At every step they provided detailed instructions and alternatives to embrace the wide variety of skill sets and bodies in the classroom. The group environment felt fun, inclusive, and engaging.
During my introductory Pilates class, the instructor patiently explained the reformer machine, the main piece of equipment used in Pilates. We moved through gentle, repetitive movements that stretched our muscles while integrating some gradual resistance. While moving through these exercises, the instructor brought our attention back to structured breath work. We were encouraged to take note of how the movements felt and to make any adjustments necessary. The reformer provided many options to increase or decrease the intensity of the workout, which, as a beginner, was very comforting and allowed me to explore my body’s limitations.
The instructor also prompted slight adjustments: realigning the hips, foot placement, or core work. Each adjustment helped deepen the exercise and activate different muscle groups. We were also encouraged to breathe while engaging our core. This helps support back muscles and is a key way to ease pain.
What are some of the guiding philosophies behind Vitality Pilates?
Hilery founded her business with the intention of allowing teachers to follow their own instincts and interests in the classroom. One of her favorite aspects of practicing pilates is that each teacher brings something different to the studio; no two classes are exactly the same. Diverse teaching paths allow for teachers and students to explore their passions and embrace a variety of body types, experiences, and perspectives.
“At Vitality Pilates, we want to meet every body where it is at.” -Hilery
Pilates is a form of fitness that students can engage in for their entire life- it doesn’t have an expiration date like many other forms of high-intensity workouts do. The focus is on keeping joints healthy and building strength. This is something every body at every stage can partake in.
Vitality Pilates also places significance on mental wellbeing through exercise. While the benefits of physical exercise for mental health is no surprise, Pilates is able to go the extra mile by encouraging students to look inwards and listen to their body. It takes practice to listen to our bodies and find stability. Committing to Pilates can help students develop skills to find refuge in their bodies by mindfully listening.
What is the value in taking a group workout class?
Group lessons, while more economically accessible, also offer wonderful community building. Each class has its own culture, crafted in large part by the instructor. For those that struggle to find the motivation to show up for their bodies and exercise, group fitness classes are an excellent way to approach exercise in a fun, social environment. It helps to feel like you are going through a journey with other people and not alone.
If you are looking for sustainable change in your health and wellness, Vitality Pilates offers the perfect environment to learn more about your body while getting a good workout. Their educated instructors and inclusive class model make learning about Pilates very approachable.
“Getting fit is a gift to your future; getting fit in a smart way is even more beneficial.” -Hilery
Vitality Pilates Greenwood
7216 Greenwood Ave N.