Achieving Greater Fitness with In Shape Pilates

By Sandra Zunino

Originally named Contrology, Pilates, a physical fitness method developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century is now available in its purest form on Kent Island

Certified Pilates Instructor Maureen Benkovich teaches the fitness modality at In Shape Pilates, her private waterfront studio. Maureen, a certified personal trainer for 15 years, was inspire to teach Pilates after she achieved success healing a herniated disk while utilizing the fitness method in conjunction with physical therapy.

Having been certified to instruct several forms of fitness activities including weight and cardiovascular training, Maureen admits the Pilates certification requirements were the most stringent.

“It’s a very layered system with each lesson building upon the last,” she says. “There is a reason for each exercise and why it is where it is in the repertoire.” Maureen must also know appropriate modifications to make for a client who has an injury. In such cases, she analyzes the function of the exercise and modifies it so the client can achieve the same function.

A client with an injury must provide a doctor’s clearance before starting the program, however. If she recognizes a medical issue during sessions, Maureen will refer someone for treatment.

Maureen received her certification through Peak Pilates and learned her techniques from Cameron Macdonald, a Level Three Peak Trainer in Annapolis.

While there are many variations of Pilate’s exercises, Maureen teaches classical Pilates the way Joseph Pilates intended. She also says that while she already had a good understanding of the human body, the Pilates certification broadened that knowledge. “Their training was extremely thorough,” she says.

The In Shape Pilates studio is outfitted with specialized equipment to teach the Pilates method. The “universal reformer” and “mat” designed by Joseph Pilates can be adapted to any client, no matter what fitness level from beginner to advanced. Simply changing the place a client stands on the reformer can increase the degree of difficulty for the exercise.

A resistance form of training, Pilates helps improve strength, balance and posture. Spinal articulation and learning to control the body from the core is the principle of Pilates. Clients learn to engage their extremities from their glutes, inner thighs and abdominal muscles. “The reason most people injure themselves is because they don’t move their extremities from their stable core,” explains Maureen.

Clients approach In Shape Pilates to improve their level of strength, fitness and flexibility as well as look and feel better. This often transcends to improving performance in other activities such as golf, dance and tennis. Maureen recommends clients do cardiovascular training and eat healthy to achieve overall physical fitness.

To start a program, Maureen meets with the potential client for an initial consultation and recommends clients complete at least two sessions a week or more. Sessions run 55 minutes beginning with a warm-up and build a routine, starting with basics and learning more as the client progresses. Maureen also stresses breathing techniques during sessions.

Because exercises require intense supervision, Maureen works with a maximum of two clients per session. While she has a few male clients, predominantly she works with women and says she feels very enthusiastic when a client’s fitness, posture and confidence grows as she progresses through the program.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, call In Shape Pilates at 410-562-2628.