I’ve always been a yoga girl. I grew up dancing professionally and I would supplement my days off from dance with yoga. Yoga is amazing for the mind, body, and spirit, but for me, most satisfying when I was in a big class filled with people to feed off of the group energy. As I got into my twenties, and stopped dancing, I continued doing yoga but found it tougher and tougher to find classes that would fit into my busy schedule. Sure, I could do it at home, but the feeling was not the same.
I began thinking about adding in a new type of workout to my routine, one where I did not have to rely on a studio’s class schedule, one which I could fit in to my own hectic calendar with a private sort of class, and be able to also do it at home on my off days.
I believe everything happens for a reason, because as soon as I put that thought into the universe, I received an enthusiastic email from a local private Pilates instructor named Ashlee Carignan who owns Pilates with Ashlee. The subject line read, “I want to train you!” Ashlee, who has been teaching for over 10 years, had found me on Instagram and reached out so generously and graciously, offering to train me complimentary, in exchange for my personal feedback on her studio and training. She confidently said, I want to train you at no charge, and I guarantee that you will fall in love with Pilates.
Fall in love, I did. I fell in love with both her and the workout, so much so that I began training with Ashlee twice a week. What was so lovely about finding Ashlee, or rather, her finding me, was that she was so easy to work with. We connected instantly and from there it just flowed. She was flexible with her time and schedule, and allowed me to work out with her when it made sense for me, which is every client’s dream.
What is so unique about Ashlee is the care and attention she provides to her clients. She is not just an instructor, she becomes a friend, advocate, and cheerleader. There were days when I came in at 7am (maybe not in the best mood, overtired, or overworked) and she immediately cheered me up. It was not just the endorphins that boosted my mood, but Ashlee’s fiery personality and commitment to making sure I was happy from the inside out.
I love Ashlee’s commitment to her art, understanding that not everyone has access to private classes, or even group classes. She knows the power of Pilates and wants to share it with the world, that is why she created a project called, “Pilates for Everyone Index.” She teamed up with another instructor across the world in Australia, and started a series of hashtags which would then become an Instagram movement. She knew there had to be an easier way to find inspiration, motivation and easily accessible “home exercises” on Instagram than just saving each individual video from various instructors. Through this, the Pilates For Everyone Tag was born. The Index/Tags essentially group Pilates exercises under one tag, i.e #armsforeveryone, which has over 700 posts of different arm exercises by her Pilates community. Not only do the posts provide various exercise variations but they give out free tips and tutorials for practicing Pilates at home over Instagram. She has used the power of social media and hashtags to rally over 4,000 people to join the movement, giving people access to Pilates workouts anywhere, and at any time.
I have been able to practice both in her studio on the reformer and at my own home on the mat, thanks to her carefully detailed instructions. Pilates has not only transformed my body, but also given me peace of mind and a new friend.