San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Pilates Builds Strength, Not Bulk

Pilates Fitness Studio in the western suburb of Escazú offers a unique approach to exercise that is guaranteed to leave you feeling different from when you walked in. The bright and immaculate studio, equipped with expert-trained instructors and specialized Pilates machines encourages “anybody who wants to feel good,” to come and try the age-old exercise that is quickly gaining popularity, from Hollywood to Costa Rica.

The Pilates method has its origins in the work of the late Joseph Pilates, a German who developed the fitness program in the early 1900s to improve his own body image, health and physique. In the 1920s, Pilates’ studio in New York City attracted actors, dancers and athletes who found the exercises effective for building strength without adding bulk, balancing strength with flexibility and achieving harmony among mind, body and spirit, according to Ali Sain, owner of Pilates Fitness Studio.

Sain feels very strongly about the healing power of Pilates. When years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and lupus, two chronic, debilitating diseases, her doctors in Argentina recommended that she try Pilates.

Before beginning Pilates, Sain suffered from chronic fatigue, joint pain, arthritis, decreased physical mobility and other painful and incapacitating symptoms, but with the help of Pilates, her physical pain went away.

“I attribute my healing to Pilates, proper nutrition and faith that through these practices I could heal myself,” she says.

Once she witnessed the change in her body, Sain vowed to continue doing Pilates for life. When she moved to Costa Rica and found that no Pilates instruction was offered, she decided to invest in her own studio so that she could pass on to others the beneficial healing techniques that changed her life.

Central to the Pilates method is body awareness, achieved by focusing each exercise around eight basic principles: relaxation, coordination, alignment, stamina, concentration, centering, breathing and flowing movements. Exercises are based on a combination of mat work and the use of specialized Pilates machines, such as the Reformer, Cadillac and Gyrotonic.

According to Pilates instructor Christi Idavoy, Pilates machines are designed to teach users how to do the exercises properly.

They create resistance and hold the body in position, guiding users to be conscious of their body alignment and aware of what body parts should be working with each exercise, so when the exercises are duplicated on the mat they are done correctly. The studio offers Pilates machines for sale for those who wish to have them at home.

The benefits of Pilates are many: improving and correcting posture, improving flexibility, increasing strength and muscle tone, reducing stress and joint pain, focusing the mind, promoting confidence, increasing body awareness, improving the functions of  the respiratory, lymphatic and circulatory systems, easing migraines and relieving musculo-skeletal problems. Idavoy emphasizes that the method provides a complete workout, including cardiovascular exercise, working your body from the inside out. And one thing is for sure: “You will sweat!”

Pilates Fitness Studio offers classes for prenatal, postnatal, physical rehabilitation, athletes, dancers, elderly, teens, children and, coming this month, Pilates for Babies.

Sain says that by teaching Pilates at an early age, children develop correct posture, which can prevent injuries or pain that develops over a lifetime of carrying the body in the wrong way.

Classes are appropriate for individuals at all levels of fitness. The techniques that are taught can also be done outside of the studio.

“Whether you are in line at the grocery or at the office, these exercises can help you be aware of your body and conscious of its alignment,” Sain says.

All Pilates Fitness Studio instructors are internationally certified with years of experience, including training with some of the biggest names known in the method: Michael Miller,Michael King and Brady Wedman.

In addition to regular class options, the studio offers training workshops for teachers or interested individuals. The next workshop, “Pranassage, Thai Massage and Shiatsu,” with Richard Jordan, will be held every Friday to Sunday from Oct. 27 to Nov. 19.

According to Joseph Pilates, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. In order to achieve happiness, it is imperative to gain mastery of your body. If at the age of 30 you are stiff and out of shape, you are old.

If at 60 you are supple and strong, then you are young.”

Pilates Fitness Studio is in Plaza Acuarium, 500 meters south of Multiplaza mall in Escazú. Hours are Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, call 201-9038 or visit


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