Allow me to introduce the one-and-only: Grace Stewart. Grace started attending classes at Strong Body in 2019 and continues to brighten up the studio with her warm personality, positivity, and commendable commitment to a proper Pilates practice. As her name would suggest, Grace exemplifies what is possible through the Pilates method: how it can be customized for anyone—including exceptional movement professionals—and create appropriate challenges that yield desirable results.
Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or just starting out, I hope her Q&A inspires you to capture the joy of Pilates at every stage in your practice.
What’s your Pilates origin story?
I went to a full-time dance college when I was 16. I was dancing every day and I had a lot of flexibility but less control over my body and I often had a sore back. Luckily there was a Pilates studio in the same building as my dance college. It was physical therapy based, but I really started noticing the difference in my deep abdominals and stabilizers.
The following year I moved to Sydney to attend another dance college. It was very intense training every day and I knew I needed to keep up the Pilates. I found an amazing studio in Surry Hills run and owned by Cynthia Lochard — master teacher and trainer who was in the New York City ballet and trained under Pilates elder Romana Kryzanowska. Cynthia’s background in dance and her commitment to holding her studio and all teachers to such a high standard and preserving the classical Pilates method was really impressive. It really made me fall in love with Pilates. I have been practicing ever since!
How has Pilates changed your life?
I have had a long and successful dance career without any major injuries! I strongly believe that is because of my Pilates training. There is nothing better for injury prevention and body awareness. It’s also a big deal to find a type of workout that you actually love. I especially love that it is a constant work in progress. There are always things to improve and ways to challenge yourself. And the reward is seeing yourself get better and your body get stronger as you get older.
Why do you choose to do your workouts at Strong Body Pilates?
When I first moved to America I had a hard time finding a studio that was comparable to where I’d been training in Australia. A lot of the classes were more just generic workouts, not at all focusing on technique or people’s individual needs. Then I found Strong Body Pilates! It felt like home. I have my own personalized program and I love the open classes. I have the freedom to do my workout but also get the corrections I need from the instructors and they challenge me so I never get complacent.
What is your most challenging exercise and why?
It’s usually the simpler exercises that I find most challenging. Maybe the short box – keeping my hips down!