For April Tillman, Pilates is a lifestyle. At Urban Pilates, April shares and teaches authentic Pilates to her students, so they can enjoy the benefits of Pilates in their lives. As April explained, Pilates is more than a workout at a studio or gym, but is about posture, spinal alignment, how the body functions, and the balance between mind and body.
My Pilates Experience: I was lucky to be able to experience Pilates first hand before speaking with April about her business. And wow – what an enlightening and invigorating workout and experience! We began on the Reformer, where you start laying down on your back. While that wouldn’t seem like a hard thing to do, my challenge was simply getting my body to lay straight!
Once my posture was set (which April needed to correct often), my work out began. It’s not like heading to the weight room and pulling on levers and lifting weights, but an exercise in deliberate body movement, focusing your attention on moving specific muscles in tandem. Most exercises, if not all, involved coordinating the lower ab and butt muscles, keeping a straight spine and open chest, and then stretching or working another muscle with the assistance of springs in the equipment. This was gentle, but hard work!
As we progressed through my introductory workout on the Reformer, and then to the Wall Unit and the Barrel, I discovered things about my body and how it moves I had never realized before. It’s obvious we develop bad habits of posture and body movement in our daily lives.
Pilates brings those issues into focus. I can see how the practice of Pilates would correct those bad habits while also building body strength and flexibility you never thought possible. I watched in wonder as the other clients in the studio worked out. They all seemed so fit and strong as they moved and stretched with the equipment. They were also very happy, enjoying their work outs immensely.
Learning at Urban Pilates: April stresses that Urban Pilates is not like going to your local gym. For starters, April trains all her clients as apprentices in Pilates. Clients are guided through their workouts, and develop their own model of exercises with a personal Certified Pilates Instructor. Also, Urban Pilates is not like a Pilates “mat class” you find elsewhere. The work out space is filled with Pilates equipment with names like “the Reformer” and “the Wall Unit,” and it is important that all clients know how to use this equipment safely. All of Urban Pilates’ trainers are complete Pilates Certified Instructors.
Most new clients go through three introductory sessions with a trainer. April believes that a light goes on around the 3rd Pilates session, when the student starts understanding the movements and needs less guidance. From that point forward, clients can continue to participate in private sessions, semi-private sessions, and mat classes.
Living Pilates: April found Pilates at age 17 after a devastating car accident while in high school. She had been a basketball star, but was forced to quit sports her final year of high school, spending that time instead in rehab because of serious spinal injuries. She was living in Hood River, where she grew up, and discovered a Pilates studio in downtown Portland. April quickly fell in love with Pilates. Pilates gave April her life back, and she has never looked back.
In early adulthood, April moved to Los Angeles for a desk job, but wasn’t happy in that environment. She had kept up her Pilates practice, and still loved it. She got certified in Pilates and quit her desk job to start a business as a personal Pilates trainer for celebrities. After leaving L.A., April also had a Pilates business in Sun Valley before moving to Portland. She opened Urban Pilates around 5 years later and learned that running a Pilates business in Portland is little different than in L.A. and Sun Valley.
Pilates in Portland!: One of April’s biggest challenges of running Urban Pilates is educating the people here about what Pilates really is. She spends a lot of time marketing, explaining what Urban Pilates is about, and educating people about Pilates in general. She’s also noticed that the men in Portland haven’t really caught on yet. In L.A. and Sun Valley she had a lot of male clients, but they are just starting to trickle in here. April believes again that the general public here just isn’t aware of the benefits of Pilates and the quality work out it provides.
Yes you Can!: In fact, Pilates can be tailored for anyone to get the training they need or desire. There is an ultimate fighter training with April now. I also met a woman recovering from knee replacement surgery, who looked super fit and showed absolutely no signs of a previous injury or surgery. I overheard her speaking to April because she wanted to compliment and thank her Instructor at Urban Pilates for helping her knee recover.
Urban Pilates is also a satellite facility of Metropolitan Pilates in Seattle for teacher training. Students can earn their Pilates Certification from Metropolitan Pilates through an independent study program at Urban Pilates.
Visit Urban Pilates: You should really go meet April and check out her facility. Urban Pilates is located at 2915 NE Alberta Street. You can call them at (503) 505-9203 or visit the website at Urban-Pilates.com to learn more.