What is Pilates?

Pilates is a comprehensive body conditioning system that focuses on several key principles to strengthen, stretch and tone your muscles.  These are accuracy, breath, balance, control, coordination, flow, precision, movement, and grace, Pilates has long been recognized as an effective way to reduce pain, lose weight, gain strength, and increase flexibility, balance and mobility.  There are no prerequisites except the desire to feel and move better.

The typical stereotype of a Pilates student is a female- a dancer- someone with great strength, balance, and flexibility.  However, the Pilates method was actually created by a man named of Joseph Pilates, who was searching for a way to heal his body from severe physical and mental ailments. Clearly he was wildly successful! He helped many of the injured and sick during War. His first real client was also a man- a professional boxer actually. Joseph Pilates and his wife, Clara opened the first Pilates studio together in New York City in 1920’s . He taught students for over 30 years before passing at the age of 84.  His methodology was truly before its time, and helped change the life and careers of many many athletes, dancers, and regular folks like you and me. Today, many of his original students are still teaching and carrying on the legacy of his work.

What is the Pilates Equipment?

The Reformer is the earliest piece of equipment developed by Joseph Pilates. It uses a moving “mat” or carriage on casters of a frame, which is attached to springs.  These springs offer ways to  change the resistance.  Sometimes more resistance is more difficult, like in the gym, and sometimes, offering less resistance creates a more unstable environment, which by design makes the body have to recruit more of the stabilizer muscles- which is one of the reasons Pilates is so unique. There are literally hundreds of exercises that can be incorporated to accomplish a full body workout for any client

The Cadillac – Someone passing through Joe’s studio mentioned “Joe’s got himself a new Cadillac” as Joe was designing this piece of equipment. Many decades later, the name is still here. Known for its bigger, taller, stable (non-moving) mat and tighter springs that attach to a trapeze bar hanging from the top of this piece. The Cadillac allows those who are unable to get on and off a reformer to practice Pilates, as well as incorporate more advanced, unilateral movements.  Our clients say they feel like the Cadillac makes them feel like they are doing “Cirque de Soliel” for average folks.  It looks like a post-modern four-post bed with bars and springs hanging from the frame.  It may look a little intimidating, but after getting a feel for how it works, you will love the variety and challenges that the Cadillac offers.

The Wunda Chair –The Wunda Chair is known as “the bulldog” of the Pilates equipment.  It was made by Joe himself as a way to have a piece of equipment is his small living room that also could function as a chair. It a small mat on top and a moving pedal with two tight springs for resistance. Although the Wunda Chair was designed for more advanced movements, it has evolved into something very useful for beginners, aging and recovering injured students as well. Many of the exercises are very challenging and force you to rely on your own strength, no cheating here!

What is the BASI Method?

BASI Pilates employs contemporary science to build on the renowned method of controlled movement developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century. The BASI technique is rooted in anatomy, physiology and technical body mechanics, placing special emphasis on precision, flow and accuracy. The BASI method comprises more than 1,000 progressive exercises, each mindfully designed to guide students toward ultimate balance and overall well-being.

Port City Pilates studio, in Wilmington, NC, uses brand new beautiful BASI equipment which was made for more customization for broader range of students, and ability to teach more exercises than more traditional classical equipment.  All of this is done while preserving a classical Pilates style.

Benefits of BASI equipment include:

  • Extensive customization (height, weight, ability)
  • Expanded range of motion
  • Ease-of-use
  • Smooth movement

BASI Systems Equipment at Port City Pilates:

  • Reformer/Tower – longer, wider than industry standard reformer / adjustable shoulder blocks
  • Trapeze Table
  • Arm Chair/ Ladder Barrel
  • Wunda Chair

About Rachel Miles


Rachel discovered the physical and mental healing benefits of Pilates while in search of relief and rehabilitation from chronic back pain.  Her background in competitive dance and horse jumping helped Rachel immediately identify with the core principles of precision, flow, control, balance and harmony. Movement is movement, and observing and improving the way bodies move is her passion.

She has completed more than 1,000 hours of combined instruction, observation and student teaching to become a BASI-certified Pilates instructor and is proud to be a part of the BASI family as well as a member of the PMA (Pilates Method Alliance).  Rachel also spent another 1000 hours in intense study to become a NASM certified personal trainer and TRX instructor.

Rachel uses a hands-on, precision-based, teaching style that adapts to meet the needs of each individual student, and makes it fun!  She makes the benefits of Pilates accessible to people of all ability levels, age, size and experience- from those new to Pilates, athletes, aging seniors, and teens!  You will leave each session feeling better.

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