December 2020

Pilates Hilton Head: The workout that works for every body

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.KAT Photography


Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for people of all ages, all body types, and all fitness levels, Because there’s no bouncing, jarring, or stress to your body.

I don’t want a flat stomach,” said no person on the planet ever. If you’re still walking around with that stubborn belly pooch in spite of all the crunches, planks and mountain climbers you’ve been doing (or not!), it might be time to add Pilates to your workout routine.

But strong abdominal muscles that help create that lean look you’re after are just a nice side effect of Pilates exercise. While Pilates training focuses on core strength, it trains the body as a whole, promoting strength and balanced muscle development as well as flexibility and increased range of motion for the joints.

Got aches and pains? Recovering from an injury or surgery? Good news! Pilates can also address common problems of the neck, back, and joints and is often used as an adjunct to physical therapy. “Pilates is all about strengthening the core because everything in your body is connected. Many times, somebody will have an injury but it’s from a weakness elsewhere,” Pilates Hilton Head owner Martha Stichweh said. “When I’m training any client, I must figure out exactly what they need. It’s all about modifying the exercise for the client.”

Most exciting is that anyone can do it and get amazing results, whether you are a gym junkie, a weekend warrior, or dedicated couch potato. Because there’s no bouncing, jarring, or stress to your body, Pilates is an ideal form of exercise for people of all ages, all body types, and all fitness levels.

“This is so gentle; it doesn’t matter what age you are. Children, teens, older adults … you can actually enjoy the workout,” Stichweh said. “And the 50 minutes fly by. Once you get into it, you are in your own little world. You are relaxed and in tune with what your body is doing. You’re focused on it.”

The misconception about Pilates, Stichweh pointed out, is that if there is no pain, there is no gain. “Pilates is not about feeling the burn,” she explained. “It’s all resistance-based training. It is about consistent concentration and doing it slowly and consistently with control so that you have a flow to the exercise.”

Stichweh began her personal Pilates practice in 2009 at age 62 when searching for relief from debilitating hip bursitis. After seeing a doctor and getting a shot that didn’t work, she was referred to a hip specialist at MUSC. But because she couldn’t get in for several months, she started looking for a healthy way to relieve the pain on her own.

An old friend who had turned her own health around recommended Pilates. Figuring she had nothing to lose, Stichweh made an appointment for a private Pilates session and was immediately hooked. By the time she saw the surgeon, she no longer needed treatment.

Stichweh went on to train as an instructor, teaching at a local studio from 2010-2018 when she decided to retire. But she quickly found that she needed something purposeful to do; she missed teaching and began toying with the idea of opening a studio.

The stars began aligning in May of 2018 when her friend and studio owner in Charlotte merged with another studio and put four Pilates wall towers up for sale. Meanwhile, Stichweh had seen the empty space in the Village at Wexford (formerly Avis’s shoe room at the Porcupine). In June, she called her friend back and bought the equipment, storing it in her garage while contemplating her next move.

Stichweh opened Pilates Hilton Head in November of 2019 after a slight delay due to the threat of Hurricane Dorian. “Then, of course, COVID came and shut us down for two months,” she lamented.

During the shutdown, Stichweh had the entire studio treated with an EPA antibacterial, antiviral that is effective for 90 days. It’s been sprayed every 90 days since. “I felt that it was important to make the studio as safe and clean as possible,” she said. “I’m teaching by myself here now and cleaning thoroughly after every session. My clients love the fact that we have always had a maximum of four to a class. They know I am doing everything possible to have a safe environment for them.”

Stichweh is passionate about proper training and prides herself on offering a pure Pilates experience based on the works of founder Joseph Pilates, who developed the pilates technique and original equipment, bringing it to the U.S. in the 1920s. She studied under Balanced Body’s world-renowned master instructor Jennifer Gianni of Fusion Pilates in Asheville, N.C., receiving certification in Balanced Body’s Comprehensive Program covering all apparatuses. She has also been certified in the SmartSpine Wellness System with master instructor and SmartSpine Wellness System creator Marie-José Blom and continues to learn through continuing education courses and workshops.

She believes strongly in staying true to the traditional teachings and philosophies of Joseph Pilates. “This is a pure Pilates studio. Pilates is meant to be done in the quiet. You want the mind in touch with the body and to concentrate on the muscles you are using and learn the technique. When you learn to execute the technique of every exercise, you will see results,” Stichweh said.

As Joseph Pilates said, “After 10 sessions you will feel the difference; after 20 sessions you will see the difference; and after 30 sessions you will have a whole new body!”

Stichweh loves to see the changes in her clients and hear how happy they are to have found Pilates! Call her to schedule an appointment or class today.

Pilates Hilton Head is located at 1000 William Hilton Pkwy Unit E-2, in the Village at Wexford on Hilton Head Island. For more information, please visit pilateshiltonhead.com or call (843) 715-4545 for an appointment.

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