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Pilates Vita on St. Maarten!

IMG_1305_-_CopyFounder of Pilates Vita Inc. & Licensing, Patricia Robinson is a Master Pilates Teacher PMA; and now that she lives on St. Maarten, she has newly opened a Pilates Vita studio located at La Sammana Hotel.

When I first went to visit Patricia's studio, I had just completed a three-hour workout that was supposed to have taken around one and a half hours – so I was a bit slow. I had just started a heavy workout and nutrition program in hopes of increasing my overall health and strength. I had been having some really bad shoulder and neck pains for some nine months already, and had tried many things that had only given temporary relief. So my visit to Patricia's studio was yet another attempt to get help, but getting into a heavy fitness program was not my main focus.

I told Patricia about the neck pains, since she is so easy to talk to, and because it was bothering me at that moment. Right away, she gave me two little tricks to try just about anywhere to help alleviate pain. She said that because a lot of shoulder and neck pain is stress-related (and for me, it definitely was!) she gave me an exercise to do on a foam roller; to stand on it and just put my finger tips lightly against the bars of one of the Pilates machines. She first gave me a demonstration and then it was my turn. "Now stand up straight," she said. Indeed my neck-ache and shoulder pain started to go away as I tried.

She said it had to do with correct posture, but also because it was pain mainly due to stress – my focus shifting to my lower body, core, hips, feet took the stress away from my neck and shoulders and I was also not busy "worrying" but trying to accomplish something that was doing my body good.

I was amazed and of course happy to continue our interview as Patricia explained to me that the main reason she had become a Pilates instructor was because of her stressful job in journalism (wow!) – it was a helpful way for her to cope and get a good workout. That's why she had decided to go deeper and study and get certified and become a Pilates instructor. She studied and did all the hours required to work on the machines. She believes in strictly staying with the machines, because although mat Pilates has its place, working the machines is where the ultimate changes happen.

Patricia also explained to me that Pilates has to be done correctly, or it can cause more harm than good. Pilates done incorrectly can also leave one with no results. One of the main focuses of Pilates is to bring awareness to the body – the whole body – so that you are aware of your posture (at all times, not just during class) and in that way, you can correct yourself. It's great to have great form during classes, but her goal is to make sure that when you walk away, you continue with that awareness and self-correcting: "That's what Pilates is for; it is to heal, and that is my goal, to give Pilates properly so that my clients heal whatever is off-balance." To study Pilates and become certified is not easy; you need to learn the basic physiology of the human body.

Having certified trainers who know what they are doing is so important: "As a teacher, I x-ray the body with my eye. What can I do to help? My first goal is to take pains away, then create what my clients are looking for (beauty). Ninety percent of the population has some form of scoliosis." She gave me various examples of how many ruin their posture and then in turn ruin their bodies: "They create a condition with which they'll soon suffer."

The spring mechanism that is part of the Pilates machines is all about engaging the abdominals; it's about balance." The springs can be adjusted to offer stronger resistance, but Patricia says "stronger is not always better." It's all about resistance and stretch. The body is working against the body.

The first work in Pilates is to start with feet. "I like to make people feel good." Patricia first studied basic physiology in her mother country Brazil. After the birth of her daughter, she suffered with sciatic pain in her knees from running and that's when she started doing Pilates.

It's now 15 years she's been doing Pilates. "I feel in love with something I truly believe in," she says. In 2008, Patricia started her chain of Pilates studios called PilatesVita in Denver. "I opened at the craziest time with the economic crisis, but I didn't care. I believe in what I'm doing."

"Many teachers loved the way I worked and my first line of training was classical Pilates, but it's not my first love." She explained that each body has a different need; each individual needs something different.

Mr. Pilates' method is called "contrology" – you are controlling your body, it changes you consciously in the movements throughout the day. The changes stay after the classes; your posture changes the movement and your lifestyle even. "We don't talk muscles; we build consciousness of new movements. One example of this is that I engage my abs to move my back correctly."

After a while of correct movement, it will come automatically; moving correctly. With 10 sessions, you feel different. With 20 sessions, you see the difference in your body.

Patricia currently has two Pilates Vita studios in Colorado in the US: one in Denver and the other in Cherry Hills. Since 2009, she has been training other teachers and now they have their own studios. Patricia's goal now is to train teachers to open PilatesVita studios globally.

"I want to see people treating people the right way, to actually 'treat' people in Pilates class. I am here to fix people instead of create problems." People need to come away from the classes feeling better about themselves from the very first class.

Here are the six principles of Pilates:

1. Control

2. Breath

3. Concentrating

4. Flow

5. Centring

6. Precision

Patricia says the mind controls the body instead of the body controlling the mind. She does private or duo classes for friends and/or family. She does three people at maximum and calls her classes "treatments."

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