I heard about Excel Pilates for years, but not knowing much about Pilates, never ventured inside. That is, until I heard about their new Yoga and Zumba classes. After trekking across town for Yoga classes, I am so excited to now have classes here in my own backyard. Then I tried the Zumba class, and was hooked. This September, Excel is offering free trial classes in Pilates, Yoga and Zumba ahead of their fall class schedule. This is your chance to get to know this neighborhood gem and start getting in shape before the holidays! We caught up with Lesa McLaughlin, the owner of Excel Pilates and learned about the history of the studio, pictured below, and her vision for its future.
Lesa has deep roots in our community, having either worked or lived in Brookland since 1986. She originally taught dance at Dance Place, and was the Associate Artistic Director until 1997. In 1995, she began to teach Pilates in a very small studio inside Dance Place. A few years later, she moved to the current location as business grew. Two things come across very quickly with Lesa; she wants Pilates be as accessible as possible and she loves Brookland.
Lesa informed me that “Pilates is a method of exercise invented by a gentleman named Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the early 1900’s. He called it Contrology, “the study of control.” The method consists of over 600 exercises using five major apparatus. The most popular are the Reformer and Mat.” Lesa explained that it is a full body workout which focuses on the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, inner thighs and gluteals, creating stability of the spine for efficient movement. Excel studios offers a variety of options in Pilates, including:
- Sessions by appointment that use all of the Pilates Equipment, including Mat, that are offered One on Ones, Duets and Trios
- Six week pre registered classes in Pilates Mat (beginning through advanced-no equipment required).
- Small group Reformer classes
- Wall Unit classes (a combination of Mat and an apparatus using springs and bars)
- Wunda Chair classes.
- Pilates “sampler” classes (coming this fall)
Excel recently expanded their class offerings to include Zumba and Yoga. I asked Lesa the reason behind this move. She explained that over the past year she began to formulate a vision for studio expansion, and providing a variety of methods of exercise that are complimentary to Pilates. The Yoga classes and Zumba are just the start of that expansion. Lesa adds, “Pilates is my passion and my expertise. Pilates will always be my primary focus. Part of this vision is to bring in experts from these other areas to create a space that not only offers Pilates but a variety of forms not typically found in a traditional gym. This fall we will be offering Pilates,Yoga, GYROTONIC®, and GYROKINESIS®” and some other offerings in the works as well.
Free Trial Week will be Tuesday September 4th – Saturday 8th (All classes are Beginning level.) Here’s the rundown:
- Tuesday, September 4th – 7:30pm – Free Yoga with Hermione
- Wednesday, September 5th – 7:00am – Free Yoga with Kate
- Wednesday, September 5th – 6:15pm – Free Pilates Mat with Tatjana
- Wednesday, September 5th – 7:00pm – Free Pilates Wall-Unit with Tatjana
- Thursday, September 6th – 6:15pm – Free Gyrokinesis with Francesca
- Thursday, September 6th – 8:00pm – Free Zumba with Tatjana
- Saturday, September 8th – 9:30am – Free Pilates Apparatus with Daniela
For all Free-Trial classes call (202-269-3020) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) the studio to sign up. If you call, leave a message of which trial class(es) you would like to sign up for, your name, phone number, and email address. Space is limited so first come, first serve. For Excel’s current and upcoming class schedules go here.
Lastly, we asked Lesa if she could dispel one misconception about Pilates for our readers. Her answer: “that Pilates is just for women…It is not…after all Joseph Pilates was a man!”