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Springboard Pilates Helps Beginning Pilates Students With That First Step

By Pamela Sosnowski

Hearing Meredith Coffin talk about Pilates, you realize how aptly named her Portland-based studio is. Springboard Pilates has been helping beginners get a head start in the movement-based therapeutic form of exercise in a friendly, non-intimidating environment. According to Coffin, just one class is all it takes to begin reaping the many benefits of Pilates.

"There are no prerequisites for a body to be 'ready' for Pilates," she explained. "Instructors at Springboard are committed to working with absolute beginners and teaching them the classical work from square one. Clients leave, even after their first session, feeling (and often looking!) different: a decompressed spine, a stronger belly, even a deeper breath pattern, (and) a clearer mind."

Springboard Pilates was founded in 2005 and outgrew its three-room studio space in 2012, moving into its current location in downtown Portland at the corners of Clark and Pine. Coffin, an instructor at Springboard since 2008, purchased the studio in 2013, and today the staff includes eight instructors including Coffin herself. The newer studio space has been described by students as having the feel of a friend's cozy living room, with brightly painted walls, exposed brick, hardwood floors, and warm lighting.

The studio offers over 25 classes a week, plus private and semi-private instruction (which are usually recommended for pregnant women) and workshops. All of the classes incorporate equipment that was designed specifically for Pilates, such as reformers, barrels, and chairs. New members are welcome to schedule a free 15-minute consultation that will help determine which classes are suitable to start with.

"Initial visits usually involve a one-on-one consultation or private lesson where an instructor will chat with you about your body, your goals, and how he/she sees Pilates playing a role in your health," said Coffin. "Springboard Pilates offers introductory workshops, free consultations, an introductory private package, and several beginner group classes for newcomers. We're happy to chat on the phone or via email to see what fits your lifestyle."

Pilates was developed by athlete and physical therapy pioneer Joseph Pilates in Germany over 60 years ago, and brought his fitness method to the U.S. in the 1920s. Pilates believed that the stresses of modern life and bad posture contributed to poor health, and his exercises, which he called a "complete coordination of mind, body, and spirit" could greatly counteract any damage.

"Designed to stretch, strengthen, and balance the body, Pilates (originally termed "contrology," the science of control) stimulates circulation through proper breathing, facilitating muscular flexibility, joint range of motion, and proper musculoskeletal alignment," said Coffin. "The unique and harmonious relationship with one's body nurtured through dedication to Pilates exercises unconsciously results in a controlled, elevated, and invigorated mind."

The caring instructors can help anyone engage that mind/body connection at Springboard Pilates. The studio is open 6 AM to 8 PM Monday through Friday and occasionally on weekends for workshops and private instruction. The drop-in rate for classes is $16 for mat-based sessions and $23 for machine-based ones. Several membership packages are available depending upon a client's needs and frequency of classes.

"The Springboard team is happy to help you map out your Pilates path," said Coffin. "There is no body too fit or too weak to be challenged and nourished by Pilates. It just plain feels good."

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