Photos by Nicolas Calcott for Paris By Appointment Only™
If you asked Parisians ten years ago what Pilates (pronounced “Pilottes”) was, they would have answered you with their habitual I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about-you-may-as-well-come-from-Mars shoulder shrug and dismissive lip fart.
But oh how the times have changed. Now, almost every sports club and well-being center is offering some kind of Pilates class, just like every grocery store these days has some kakamayme organic product line that they’re pushing. The point is that finding a fabulous, authentic, personalized Pilates studio in Paris can be as costly as it is exhausting. But now you can save your Euros and your breath because I have the Pilates pro for you!
Long, lean, strong and supple, American-raised, Paris-based Annie Venier is a walking and talking advertisement for Pilates. As well she should be, she’s been doing it now for close to fifteen years. Venier fell into the discipline quite literally by accident. After a running injury knocked her off her feet, she found herself in search of a deep, therapeutic strength-building alternative. She got hooked immediately, and before long quit her job to pursue a new career as a Pilates professional.
Certified by The Pilates Center of Boulder Colorado, Venier moved to Paris in 2003 and opened up her one-woman Pilates studio two years ago. Located on the second floor of a residential building near the Jardin du Luxembourg, her word-of-mouth studio is as discreet and private as it gets. The two-room studio has a sun-filled space with a Reformer machine and lots of accessories, while the Fame-like dance room next door is used for group mat classes.
Venier is a fun, straight-talking professor whose prior-life as a painter has a tendency to creep into her descriptive vocabulary. She may asked you to hug Pavorotti, walk in goo, slide like a piece of ham between two slices of bread, or grow giant feet while you’re doing one of the various exercises she has incorporated into your personalized Pilates routine.
So what is Venier’s unique approach to this method invented by Joseph Pilates in the 1920s? Here’s Venier’s list of the top 5 benefits to pursuing Pilates.
1. Healing the body and preventing injuries: “I didn’t go into Pilates with a perfect healthy body so when I look at someone who has a fear of movement due to pain, I can relate to that. For me, Pilates is therapeutic. With each client I try to create a program that will not only make their body look great, but help them feel better in that body too. Pilates creates a structure that will keep you pain-free and teaches you habits that will prevent you from twisting, pulling your back or moving carelessly.”
2. Breaking routines and building a healthy system: “We ordinarily use our large muscle groups when we work out. Pilates is about creating a total-body healthy system, which means that all of the little pieces that link together with the big muscles also have to be strong and healthy. There are all sorts of little muscles that we never use because we do the same thing over an over again. Pilates gets you out of your routine, and helps you discover all of these tiny balancing and deep core muscles.”
3. Feeling and seeing the results of improved balance: “Pilates gives you balance between your muscles and your bones and your relationship to gravity. You feel centered, and your body becomes more symmetrical. When the joints are aligned and everything is falling into place, it’s attractive. You have long, lean, sculpted muscles. A balanced body is a beautiful body.”
4. Increasing your strength: “Pilates teaches you how to recruit core strength, which for an athlete, or anyone who wants to be stronger in what they’re doing, is fantastic. Be it golfing, or swimming, or tennis or just hauling shopping bags up stars, it gives you a much more performant body. Because you’ve learned how to connect your hands and your feet with your core, this additional powerhouse now fuels any activity you do.”
5. Breathing, centering and self-awareness: “We get more of our energy from breathing than anything else. Pilates helps you use your breath, its rhythm and the rhythm of the body to calm down and to listen to what your body needs.”
Schedule: private and group classes with Annie Venier are by appointment only.
Prices: From 65€ for a private class to 25€ for group class when you purchase a 10-session card.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: + 33 6 98 12 64 18