CORRECTION: Excel Pilates Grand Reopening This FRIDAY


Excel Pilates Grand Reopening This Friday, a set on Flickr.

For 15 years, Excel Pilates DC has been helping Brookland area residents get and stay in shape. I love taking classes there because of the friendly atmosphere and super-knowledgeable instructors. Not only is it a great place to work out, it is a hub of activity that brings neighbors together. Recently, the studio underwent a renovation and the general public is invited to a party celebrating the studio’s 15 year anniversary and their new studio space. The” Re-Grand Opening” will be this Friday, October 4th 2013, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. There will be snacks and lots of demonstrations, so this is a great opportunity to check out this neighborhood gem. For a little “before and after” of the studio renovation check out the story we did on Excel last year. We interviewed Lesa McLaughlin, owner and operator of the studio and asked her some questions about the past and future of the studio. Excel Pilates is located at 3407 8th St. NE.

Tell us a little bit about the remodel. What brought it about?

The remodel was brought about by the purchase of the building. The new owners wanted to develop and upgrade grade the property. For the past 3 years I have also wanted to improve the space but the building was on the market. Since there was uncertainty about the future of the building I waited to make any changes. I had been in this space in Brookland since 1998, and I knew that I wanted to stay in Brookland. I am incredibly happy that it worked out that the new owners had a vision that incorporated a space for Excel Pilates. We were originally in a larger portion of the building. It was great to have all that space, but realistically it was more than I needed.

What was done for the remodel?

We carved out a different floor plan. We built two new bathrooms and replaced the roof, windows, doors and lighting. We also added dry wall and insulation and have a better more efficient HVAC system. New equipment has been purchased and upgraded. While the space is now smaller, I have worked hard to create a light, open and airy feel to the space. I think I have been successful.  We designated areas for the different activities dividing space with hanging mirrors and art work. The space makes me happy every time I walk in to it. It’s a great space to work out in.

For those that have never tried it, what benefits can our readers get out of Pilates?

Pilates is invigorating. It is an exercise for a lifetime. The benefits are better posture, a stronger core, more flexibility, increased strength and muscle tone, improved over all body awareness and health.

About a year ago, you started including yoga and Zumba classes, what impact has that had on the studio?

Yoga and Zumba a have been a nice complement to the studio. Our clients have enjoyed the additional offerings and benefits. It has created a nice cross over from one method of exercise to the other.

As a long-time neighborhood business, tell us about the changes you have seen over the years, and where you see the studio going in the coming years.

I have either lived or worked on 8th street since 1987.  My original connection to 8th street goes back even further. My father worked at Sun Crown Printing back in the 1970s, which was located at the end of 8th Street near Edgewood. When I personally first came to Brookland, it was with Dance Place. I worked there as a dance Instructor, my dance company was in residence there, and I was Associate Artistic Director there for several years.  8th street was mostly light industrial and residential at that time. The property where the Brookland Artspace Lofts are currently located was a run-down mechanics garage. One bay was then occupied by a small plumbing and heating guy that did not have heat.  Most of the property in the rear was cover with trash.  First we had Dance Place. Then came Brookland Studios. Lee’s Auto has been here – best mechanic in the city, by the way. I have seen houses and dormitories torn down, I have seen the buildings renovated around me. Brookland Studios was built and torn down to create the Brookland Artspace Lofts. Colonel Brooks added Island Jim’s, and is now demolished and an empty lot. Now we are waiting for what is yet to be there. Dance Place is currently undergoing renovations.

12th street businesses have come and gone while others have been steady and true to Brookland for many more years than I have been here. The addition of the new restaurants on 12th has been great.  And then of course Monroe Street Market, the most dramatic change to date.

The charm and attraction of Brookland for me has always been the sense of community. The artists, the residents, and small business all working hard to create a better quality of life for everyone here. When I first came to Brookland and tried to show someone on a map where it was. I was often frustrated by the fact that it was most often covered the map key! Most did not know where it was. Now, your GPS will get you here. The metro will get you here, Capital bike share and zip car will get you here. Even the taxi drivers know where it is and will get you here.

There was period of time when I was very uncertain what was going to happen with my business with all the development around me. I could not imagine my business being any other place.

I am so happy that they are able to continue providing our Pilates and fitness programming in Brookland in our current location. In the coming years I see continued involvement and growth. I see Excel Pilates as being an established part of the Brookland community.

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