Eighteen years ago, Karen Prechtl brought Pilates to St. Louis, setting up shop in a space at COCA, in University City. She is now on her third studio, with The Pilates and Yoga Center, located at 9825 Clayton Rd. in Ladue.
"At my last studio, I had 38 employees, and now I have 9, which allows me to slow down and focus on instruction and personalized attention, says Prechtl.
The one-on-one focus starts with a personal assessment, which Prechtl offers to each new student, regardless of experience, and from this the studio tailors a plan to meets the needs and knowledge level of the client.
The theme of individual attention is consistent through all 26 classes offered per week, as no session seats more than eight students. Classes begin as early as 6 a.m., and run all day with evening sessions beginning at 6 p.m. Classes are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis.
"Pilates is corrective exercise, and we want to get to know the needs of our students and work directly on improving the areas that need work," says Prechtl.
For instance, some students come to the studio with relatively strong arms and shoulders, but weak core muscles, or the major muscles residing in the area of the belly and the mid and lower back. Pilates training often focuses on strengthening the core.
Typically associated with flexibility, Pilates utilizes the weight of the body to add strength conditioning to the work out. This characteristic makes for a user-friendly routine, which can be sustained for the long-term.
"We have many clients in their 60's, and one client is over 80 years old," Prechtl notes.
As baby-boomers race into retirement age, the need for flexibility is paramount, since sustaining mobility depends on maintaining flexibility.
And Pilates is gender- neutral, says Prechtl.
"Real men do Pilates!"
The studio is painted in soothing colors, and decorated with peaceful objects and art. But don't let the soft tones fool you, the workout can be intense.
"We want to kick butt, but we want it to be enjoyable and relaxing," says Prechtl.
The presence of Cody, who is Prechtl's golden retriever, is something clients have come to expect. The lovable studio mascot adds to the peaceful ambience of the setting.
"After running a bigger studio for many years I think I've found a healthier pace here, it keeps things calm and low-maintenance, just as I want it," says Prechtl.