Your List of “Things To Do”

“So much to accomplish in 24 hours.” “There is never enough time in the day.” “I do not have enough time to exercise.” “I wish I could fit a workout into my schedule.”

Yes, daily life is truly a balancing act. If you are like me, we start off the day with a long, ambitious list of things to do. It feels like there is plenty of time to get through the list but then one more thing is thrown into the mix, or there’s a change of plans. Traffic, sick kids, cancelled train… The extra stuff I always refer to as speed bumps. If you get side tracked or slowed down, time flies away but the list does not get shorter. On days like this a good friend of mine always say “Calgon, take me way” (knowing this phrase dates me, I’m sure). By the time we are at the end of the day, we look to de-stress. Exercise is a great way to do that but too many things get in the way. Often at the end of it all, you’re just plain exhausted.

Exercise may start high on the priority list but it often is pushed to bottom or just removed from the list. But TBH, (as my son would say), exercise needs to not only stay on the list; it should remain at the top. When I think of or discuss the importance of exercise, I refer to my high school biology class and “The Seven Signs of Life” – The seven signs of life are moving, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition. All of these activities are present in living organisms. Note the first sign on the list. To maintain our living bodies, it is essential that we keep moving. Staying strong (to the best of our abilities) helps in every aspect of our daily lives.

Exercise improves the quality of our lives in every way and is a necessity, not a luxury. When making your list of things to do, try putting exercise at the very top. If you can make it the first thing you do in the morning, even better. That way, it’s done and nothing else gets in the way. If it’s later in the day, that works too. Try to exercise at a time of day that feels best for your body. Wherever exercise falls on your list, make it a top priority. Most of all keep your workout on your list; not only do you need it, you deserve it and you will feel better for it!

– Lesa McLaughlin


What Are You Waiting For?

Wishful Thinking Won’t Make You Fit

Pilates Profile: Bill Trapmann, Age 65, Retired Economist

Bill Trapmann Reformer2

I’ve been practicing Pilates for slightly more than four years. I practice with regular sessions in the Excel studio at least once a week, except when I’m travelling. Between the formal sessions I try to include some Pilates exercises into my own personal workouts. As well as improving my technique, I find Pilates exercises to be a good way to warm up the body core.

Initially, I was curious about Pilates because I thought it might be helpful to augment my usual routine with something different. Over the years, I’ve found multiple benefits to changing my exercise regimen. Varying my exercises provides different challenges for my body, improves my strength, helps counter any physical imbalance from underworking any one part of my body, and gives me renewed interest in my overall exercise program. I’ve had my share of injuries over the years, and I appreciate the expert guidance and oversight provided by the instructors at the Excel studio. Their expertise imbues in me a confidence to attempt challenging exercises that I probably shouldn’t even consider, much less attempt, on my own. Thanks to the instructors, I have surprised myself more than once with what I am able to do.

Bill Trapmann Reformer1Since I began practicing Pilates, I’ve noticed improved core strength and greater flexibility overall. I consider core strength to be an important benefit because it provides me a more stable platform for other activities such as swimming, biking, and running. Also, I’ve gained a better awareness of the interrelation of the core and the rest of my body, which has enhanced my performance in each of these other activities. In addition to the direct physical benefits, I’ve found the practice of Pilates to positively influence my mental outlook. Feeling stronger and more capable provides a degree of personal confidence that is actually comforting to me. I know these results are the product of the time and effort I’ve invested in the work, which I find very gratifying.

As for which Pilates exercise is my favorite: one answer is the last exercise of the session, especially on a day when the workout didn’t come easy. But to be more specific, I suppose my favorite exercise is the Short Spine Massage. I found it difficult initially, but as my form and movement have improved, it’s come to represent a personal success. In doing it, I feel greater strength and flexibility. Perhaps my second favorite is the Teaser because it’s the one I love to hate. Most often I don’t do it very well at all. On the rare occasion, though, I almost look good. It makes me nuts. The challenge is good for me.

Bill Trapmann Barrel1I greatly value having a good quality of life. Being well and active is at the foundation of my quality of life, and this motivates me to continue my Pilates practice. Good health and fitness are not things that simply occur—I must work for them. I believe that if you want to be active, you must stay active. I’m not familiar with many quotes from Joseph Pilates, but I’ve seen a few that resonate with me. I like, “Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor outright purchase.” On a similar note, “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one.”

That being said, my self-motivation only goes so far. Another motivating factor for me is to have good instructors. The instructors at the Excel studio are clearly knowledgeable, as well as helpful and encouraging. Their interest in my performance inspires me to try harder. (It also helps that they all seem to have the patience of Job. I still don’t remember the exercises well, much less do them properly. They continue to have faith in me.)

Over the course of a Pilates session, I enjoy the physical challenge as I warm up and then perform more challenging exercises. After a workout I feel invigorated. My energy levels are higher and I feel satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. I’ve told my friends about how Pilates makes me feel, and how the results enhance my performance in other activities in which I’m interested. Additionally, a stronger body and increased awareness of my body help me avoid injuries.

So what are you waiting for?

So you want to do Pilates?

By Sophie Mendelson


In recent years, Pilates has become very popular. This program of exercise, which once induced wrinkled brows and a whole slew of creative pronunciations, is now familiar fare to the fitness savvy across the country—and they’re hungry for more. It’s now possible to find Pilates classes listed in many gyms and fitness centers, as well as spin-offs from “piloxing” to “yogalates.” While it’s wonderful that programs are so much more widely available than they once were, the proliferation of the Pilates name has led to something of a decoupling of the word “Pilates” from the authentic system of exercise invented by the man, Joseph H. Pilates, for which it was named.

Here at Excel Pilates DC, we’re committed to the power and depth of the original Pilates Method of Body Conditioning, a highly evolved and in-depth program designed to empower all participants to be in control of their own health and wellbeing. This is the Pilates that’s had a meaningful impact on Lesa McLaughlin and the Excel Pilates staff, and it’s the Pilates that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients every day. We believe that if you want to do Pilates, then you should do Pilates.

But with all of the options out there, it can be challenging to discern Pilates-inspired workouts from the real deal. That’s why we’ve created this guide: to help you identify the spaces and teachers that will empower you to practice Pilates authentically. Read on to discover eight things to know when choosing a Pilates program that will offer you the highest quality experience!

Authentic Pilates is…

1) …the system of exercise invented by Joseph H. Pilates

Joseph Pilates began designing the Pilates Method of Body Conditioning in 1902, and continued to expand the method throughout his lifetime. As a child, Joe suffered from a variety of ailments including asthma and rickets. Determined to take control over his health, he became a student of exercise. By the time he was a young man, Joe had developed his skills as a gymnast, diver, skier, and boxer. Interned in England during WWI, Joe designed exercise techniques to accommodate wounded soldiers, emphasizing the abdominals and back muscles in order to help patients build strength and flexibility. To this end, he invented several pieces of equipment, still in use today, that use springs to generate muscle conditioning. Upon moving to New York in the mid-1920s, Joe and Anna Clara Zeuener—commonly known simply as Clara, and thought to be Joe’s wife—opened the first Pilates studio, and the method soon became popular within the city’s dance community. Joe began referring to his method as “Contrology,” and promoted his system as universally beneficial to all participants of any fitness background.

2) …a method that utilizes the full range of exercises and equipment attributed to the original work of Joseph Pilates.

Authentic Pilates can be instructed through the use of:

  • Mat work
  • Reformer
  • Cadillac
  • Wunda Chair
  • Barrels
  • Arm Chair
  • Electric Chair
  • Guillotine
  • Magic Circles
  • Hand weights or small dumb bells
  • Toe Tensometer
  • Neck Stretcher
  • Foot Corrector

These apparatus comprise the range of equipment and exercises developed by Joseph Pilates during his lifetime. At absolute minimum, an authentic Pilates studio will offer instruction in mat work, Reformer, Cadillac, Wunda Chair, and Barrels.

3) …taught by well-trained instructors.

In order to provide students with the highest level of experience, knowledge, and safety, it’s essential that Pilates instructors have practiced extensively at a personal level as well as completed a comprehensive Pilates teacher training program. Teachers who are dedicated to the mission established by Joseph Pilates in his original work will be versed in all of the exercises included in the Pilates Method, as opposed to an isolated set of exercises, and will build their understanding through continuing education study throughout their careers.

4) …practiced with full concentration in a studio environment.

Pilates entails the integration of mind and body—a challenging task requiring the utmost concentration. To this end, the Pilates Method is maximized through one-on-one or small group sessions conducted in a focused studio environment (this means no music). A studio is traditionally a place where you study art, and a Pilates studio is a place where exercise is practiced as an art form. Additionally, as a place of study, the studio invites practitioners to actively engage with the Pilates Method as students, rather than passively receiving the teacher’s instructions.

5) …constructed through the systematic layering of exercises.

Pilates is about quality, not quantity. The method builds from the foundation of the powerhouse in order to work the whole body with the goal of achieving optimal function. Pilates emphasizes alignment and symmetry, as well as flow of movement: students learn to transition efficiently between exercises and to execute transitions and repetitions with a specific rhythm. When designing a session, the teacher gradually extends the sequence to include a greater number of exercises while maintaining the same number of repetitions as the student advances.

6) …exercise.

Pilates is a system of exercise designed to work the entire body through a method that is by nature high-intensity but low-impact. It offers many health benefits, from improved strength and flexibility to better balance and alignment. While many doctors recommend Pilates as a method of staying in shape or as a component in a process of rehabilitation, Pilates is NOT physical therapy. It is a form of exercise with therapeutic benefits and has the potential to make a lasting impact on students’ health and wellbeing.

7) …for EVERYONE.

The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning is designed for, and accessible to, ALL PEOPLE. That includes people of all genders, all ages, all levels of fitness, and all abilities. It’s for runners, dancers, skiers, baseball players, yogis, mall walkers, recreational table tennis players, gym rats, and couch potatoes. A well-trained instructor will be able to create a Pilates program for any person with the desire to improve their fitness through dedication and practice—because Pilates is for everyone.

8) …invigorating!

In the words of Joe himself, the Pilates Method, “restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit.” We couldn’t agree more. Unlike other kinds of exercise that ask you to “go to failure,” Pilates is designed so that you can practice every day without straining or injuring yourself. We suspect that the more you practice Pilates, the more energy you will have to work out, the more you will look forward to your next workout, and the more frequently you will practice!


Sophie Mendelson has been doing classical Pilates since she was 9 years old. She has her bachelors in American Studies from Yale University and earned her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from Flow Yoga Center in Washington, DC. In her spare time, she writes about agricultural practice and policy issues. In October 2016 she will begin the organic farmer training program at The Farm School in Massachusetts. 

The Power of Progression

The Power of Progression

Patience and Persistence are the pathways to steady progress in your Pilates workout.

The Pilates Method of body conditioning is an in-depth system consisting of over 600 exercises. When the Pilates exercises are taught and learned with the proper progression and layering you can truly unlock the power of the work. To maximize your Pilates workout look to advance but don’t skip steps. Building blocks are essential to achieving strength, feeling good, moving efficiently and getting the most benefit.

The two main apparatus that you typically work out on in Pilates are the Reformer and Mat. Both are ultimately working towards a specific progression, range of motion, order and rhythm. However, you will not typically learn them in the ultimate advanced sequence and pace. In this systematic approach to layering you will advance by working your way up the levels.

There are many prerequisite exercises you will learn to better prepare you for the intermediate work, and those exercises prepare you for the advanced work. For example, you are simultaneously working on strength and flexibility; you will learn to roll up before you roll over; you will learn to balance on four limbs before you learn to balance on two. Rolling Like A Ball helps to prepare you for Short Spinal Massage.

As you advance, the beginning level exercises do not go away… they become a part of your longer more challenging workout. The more you know the more you will do in the same amount of time. If you are fit and have a healthy range of motion the higher level sequence will come faster. If you have any physical condition that requires modification you will learn the modifications first and build on them. Your overall main goal is to make progress to the best of your abilities. With practice your body, mind and spirit will work together work to take your Pilates to its fullest potential.

6 techniques to help you get there.

  1. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that flexibility plays role in challenge and accomplishment. For example, a tight lower back can make spinal articulation more challenging and make it more difficult to access your abdominals. Long hamstrings can make lifting your leg easier; hyper mobile shoulders can create an unstable joint. As you learn those strengths and weaknesses own them and apply what you need to work on specifically in each exercise. Once you have learned your strengths and weaknesses, with the help of your teacher you will be better be able to chart out a plan for success.
  1. Your workout should be manageable but challenging. Pilates is such an empowering experience when you feel the success from moving through the levels at the appropriate pace. If it’s too easy there’s no progression; if it’s too hard there’s no progress. Pilates should be invigorating, not debilitating or desperate.
  1. Be body aware, and both mentally and physically present. You do not have to have “mastered” an exercise before moving up. A level of body awareness and understanding of the exercise along with the key issues may be all that’s required.
  1. Own your exercises. In class as well as one on one sessions you should learn the names and order of the exercises so you do not need to follow along. You will get more out of your time with your teacher if she/he can give feedback rather than reteach.
  1. Set goals for yourself and check them off your list. Once you have reached your goal it’s a good indication that you are closer to moving up. Recognize that reaching a goal is advancing.
  1. Most of all make sure to not rush or slow down advancing your Pilates. Allow yourself to progress. Enjoy the challenge of trying new exercises, but give yourself time and gain the strength, flexibility and understanding. Don’t cheat…. You will get there. Be patient, be focused and enjoy your success.

“Patience and persistence are vital qualities in the ultimate successful accomplishment of any worthwhile endeavor.”- Joseph H. Pilates.

What Can You Do? You Can Do Pilates!

2015 will mark my 20th year of teaching Pilates. This 20-year anniversary causes me to reflect on the beginning of my Pilates journey. 20 years later I am still teaching because I am INSPIRED by this body of work. Joseph Pilates spent a lifetime developing a system of exercise that is about being fit – physically, mentally and spiritually. I wanted to learn it and I wanted to teach it. My first teachers, Carol Baker Dodge and Romana Kysanowska, showed me that I could do things that I did not realize I could do. That was and is what I consider to be the beauty of Pilates. You can do it. I feel honored to have the opportunity to teach Pilates and I feel fortunate to still be a student of Pilates.

Untitled-1Pilates requires strength, but you build the strength by systematically exploring what to do to attain that strength. It has always been my perspective that it is never about what you can’t do, it should always be about you can do. It is about feeling empowered by experiencing your fullest potential in each exercise. As a teacher I have witnessed progress in so many ways, in so many different individuals. As a student of Pilates, I am excited by the many challenges ahead. As a student, I continue to experienced change and growth. There are exercises I can do now that I could not do when I was 10 years younger and see the potential for so much more. For those reasons, I also see the potential in my students.

Your Pilates journey is a dialogue between you and your teacher. The teacher will safely guide you to achieve your fullest potential. They will provide information about the Pilates work that applies to you, your needs, and your strengths. You are in charge of owning it. The Pilates method of exercise provides us with a plethora of ways to achieve our health and fitness goal. There is always more to do in Pilates, and that’s a wonderful thing

As you set your goals for 2015, I challenge you to ask yourself… What can I do? Ask yourself and your teacher… Can I do more? I believe there is always, in some way, 8B76BDB1-6C8B-473C-83DB-86C645241181a little more we can find in ourselves. I know I will, both as a student and a teacher of Pilates.

I am looking forward to 2015 and here’s to 20 more years.   I hope that 2015 brings you much health, happiness and Pilates.

See you at the studio,

Lesa McLaughlin

Pilates: Empowering Yourself for a Lifetime

I have been exercising most of my life. As a former athlete, dancer and current Pilates Instructor, my physical abilities always have been front and center in my focus. For most of my life, I have needed to stay in performance shape. Formerly I worked toward this goal by spending hours a day in a dance studio, gym or on a practice field. Now, as a fitness instructor, I am no longer performing or competing but I continue to set fitness goals for myself. I want to set a good example and motivate my students as my teachers have motivated and inspired me.

Pilates at 57I am dedicated to being physically fit, to being in the best possible shape I can be. I do this not just for appearances, but also for my overall health, mental well-being and safety. As I rapidly approach my mid-fifties, I no longer need to be in peak performance shape, but I do want and need to be ready for all the things I want to accomplish or anything that comes my way. I want and need to remain active and moving for a lifetime. I want to not only live with “spontaneous zest and pleasure,” but to be ready to jump out of the way of an oncoming bus if needed. Pilates has given me endless ways to stay on that path.

My quest to remain active has given me the confidence to try and allowed me to still be able to slalom water ski (got up first try this summer), achieve level one in a Parkour class, learn to surf, take kite surfing lessons, keep up with my 12-year-old, and fly on silks in an aerial class. I credit my Pilates practice for keeping my body agile and strong enough to try and enjoy all of these activities in my fifties. The one event that I feel has most proven to me that I’ve maintained my fitness in my fifties is a specific day when I needed to call on my body in an emergency.

The summer I turned 50 my husband was undergoing chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The treatment left him fatigued and queasy most of the time but he was determined to enjoy a bit of summer. We took an afternoon dinghy ride up the Choptank River to one of our favorite spots, a somewhat isolated shoreline and sandbar. With us were my son and step-grandson (both age 8 at the time) and my stepson (age 30). We beached the boat and went exploring. A few minutes into our walk I looked back at the boat, which was now drifting from the beach and floating about 100 yards into the Choptank River.

If that boat got away we were stranded. Cell phones were on board. My husband did not have the energy, and the two eight-year-olds looked to the adults to rectify the situation.

My stepson and I ran. I passed him, (I am not a runner). I ran into the water until it was too deep to run. I swam (I am not the best swimmer) as fast as I could and caught up to the drifting boat.

pilates_82I called on my body in an emergency and it came through. While a bit of adrenaline helped, I totally credit my Pilates practice for getting me to that dinghy.

It has been years since spending those hours in the gym, on the field or in a dance studio. But I do practice Pilates daily. If my schedule doesn’t permit me to do a full work out, I always make it a priority, first thing in the morning, to do at least a 15-minute Pilates mat.

It is inevitable as we age that our bodies and abilities change, but knowing I can do something physically challenging in an emergency motivates me. It also gives me a sense of responsibility to maintain that ability as long as possible. My practice of Pilates is my path to doing so. It is an empowering method of exercise for a lifetime.
I also still want to water ski when I am 80…


“To achieve the highest accomplishments within the scope of our capabilities in all walks of life we must constantly strive to acquire strong, healthy bodies and develop our minds to the limits of our ability.”  -Joseph H. Pilates

~Author Lesa McLaughlin is the owner of Excel Pilates DC, the first Pilates studio in Washington, DC. Lesa’s experience is that of a Master teacher.  She has worked with clients for 20 years in The Pilates Method Of Body Conditioning. She was certified as a teacher in The Pilates Method of Body Conditioning by The Pilates Studio in New York in 1995 under the tutelage of Romana Krowsanavska.

Stretch: Making Movement Look Easy, Even if it’s Not

It’s not a mystery… working out is and should be hard work. It’s how we gain strength, muscle mass and definition. But ultimately it should feel good and movement should come with a sense of ease. Muscle tightness and stiff joints can create an additional challenge that generates tension in a workout rather than the “zest and pleasure” of an invigorating session of exercise. When you find the balance of stretch and strength it creates a sense of efficiency that will make you say “that was easier!”

As a teacher of Pilates I often am asked by students, “can you recommend some stretches to help me gain flexibility in my ________________?” My answer is Pilates.

I believe one of the many reasons that the Pilates Method is so ingenious is that each Pilates exercise incorporates stretch components as well as strength components. Participants gain range of motion by what is referred to as active stretch. Active stretch means that you contract a muscle directly across from the one you stretch. One muscle relaxes while the opposing muscle initiates the stretch. In Pilates it is most often a dynamic active stretch, which means the muscles and body are in motion. Through this dynamic active stretch, you gradually increase range of motion to maximize the contraction potential of a muscle. You are simultaneously working on one to help gain the other.

A few examples of this in action are the Roll Up, during which you strengthen the abdominals while you stretch the lower back through the sequencing of the spine; Double Leg Kick, which strengthens the muscles of the back and hamstrings while stretching the pectoral muscles and quadriceps; and Chest Expansion, which strengthens the muscles of the upper back and triceps while it stretches the shoulders and chest.

The harder you work on an exercise, the more flexibility you gain. As you gain flexibility, you are able to access your muscles with more depth and intensity.

Stretching is a vital component of any fitness regiment because supple muscles and joints allow the body to move with more ease. A healthy range of motion allows the skeleton to be in proper functional alignment with the muscles to create efficiency of movement. Efficient movement helps the body gain strength with balance. Balance in movement reduces the potential for pain and injury. Stretching makes you feel more comfortable when you move; the more comfortable you feel moving your body, the more you will want to move it and the better you will be at moving it.

If you would like to learn more about stretching through Pilates, please come to Excel Pilates’ Stretch with Pilates  Workshop: Maximizing the stretch potential of your Pilates workout.  This hour long workshop will be taught by Lesa McLaughlin, on Thursday, May 8th, from 7:00-8:00pm — $20 or use your Mat class package.


ROCKSTAR Continuing Education @ Excel!

Here at Excel, we are very adamant about focusing on expansive knowledge of the classical Pilates method. Advanced training and continued education are key in keeping the minds and bodies of both current and aspiring teachers in our field. Lesa, founder and instructor here at Excel Pilates DC, is pleased to announce that she is bringing in Pilates expert MeJo Wiggin to do our next continued education workshop!

Sunday, Feburary 9, 2014 10 AM- 3:30 PM

Part I: Intermediate/Advanced Reformer
Part II: Arm Chair
Cost: $250 for Dual Workshop.
Limited Space Available! Don’t miss out!
Head over to to book your spot today!

Armchair photo for web 3

Excel Pilates DC
3407 8th St NE
Washington, DC 20017

Below is some information about MeJo Wiggin:

MeJo began her Pilates study with Master Teacher Romana Kryzanowska in 1990. She was fortunate to study with many renowned teachers including Sari Majia Santos, Kathy Grant, Jay Grimes, and Bob Liekens. By 1995 she was teaching next to Romana at Drago’s Gym in NYC and was later certified by Romana in 2003 as a Teacher Trainer for Romanas’ new school, Romana’s Pilates.

MeJo is recognized as one of the leading practitioners in the method, and is considered one of Romana’s protégés. Romana often referred to MeJo’s work as “Poetry in Motion,” and she awarded MeJo with a Gold Card in 2002 for her advanced abilities.

Bio Photo

MeJo is featured in over five DVD’s, including the Romana’s Pilates Mat Series, Romana on Pilates: The Legacy Edition, Pilates Revealed with Jay Grimes, and her own videos: 20 Minutes Twice a Week and The Gratz Arm Chair. She is a featured teacher for Pilatesology, has appeared on national television, and has been written up in numerous publications for her expertise in Classical Pilates.

While running her own studio for 13 years in Greenwich, Connecticut, she became sought after. Her keen eye and skillful hands-on approach has changed hundreds of bodies. Her students have included Pilates teachers and apprentices, celebrities, professional athletes and dance companies, movie stars, and supermodels. She has also applied the Method to help students suffering from injuries, scoliosis, back pain, and many other conditions. MeJo’s work quickly gained popularity, and soon doctors from the renowned Hospital for Special Surgery in NY referred their patients to her for rehabilitation pre and post surgery.

Today, MeJo is a strong advocate and example of the Classical Pilates Method. She is sought after for her captivating seminars in the United States, Europe, and Russia. MeJo’s mission is to continue teaching and inspiring students and instructors worldwide in the Classical Pilates Method.

Holiday Time!

Happy Holidays from Excel Pilates DC! 

As the year comes to a close there’s no better time to start making decisions about how you’d like to see your life change in the coming year. We’ve already given you reasons why you and your body would love Pilates, but here are just a few quick announcements from us you may want to know as you get started.

Thanksgiving Schedule
Closing early on Wednesday 11.27.
Closed Thursday through Sunday 11.28-12.1.
Back to regular schedule Monday, December 2.
Black Friday Sale
Black Friday Sale Horizontal-page-0
Purchase and book on Nov 29 ONLINE ONLY
Mega Combo Pack are valid until 5/1/14
Private Session 5 Card Deal valid until 2/28/14

Christmas Schedule
Closed Sunday through Wednesday 12.22-12.25.
Modified Schedule Thursday through Monday 12.26-12.30
Closing Early Tuesday 12.31
Closed Wednesday 01.01.2014
Modified Schedule 01.02-01.04
Please call for additional information on the holiday schedule. We will do our best to make proper accommodations.

Gift Cards
Just in time for the Holidays, Excel Pilates is now offering GIFT CARDS!

Gift Cards are available for purchase in studio.
You can purchase as many as you’d like for any dollar amount.
They can be used on any item, sale or service offered.
Be sure to get them early before we are closed for the holiday schedule above!

Be sure to stay tuned for more holiday sales and events coming in the future! We are excited to see you and be a part of your Pilates journey! Before you go take a second to answer our poll below so that we know what you would like to see us have more of in the future!

10 Reasons You and Your Body Will LOVE Pilates

Joseph Pilates was a health enthusiast, entrepreneur and inventor who cared deeply about the maintenance of the body, mind and soul. He developed Contrology (now commonly known as Pilates) as a means of keeping every part of you in sync and well fit. His methods today have gained worldwide popularity. By doing the original Pilates method, you and your body will be left feeling better than ever. Here are just a few reasons why:

1.You gain self-confidence and consciousness of the power you have to reach your goals. By focusing your physical and mental energy on each individual part of the body as you go through each movement, you’ll find yourself more centered and more aware of your abilities. The consistent development of strength and flexibility as well as your uniformly developed body will keep you confident in your ability to reach your goals.

2. Garner grace and poise from corrected posture. Pilates exercises focus on strengthening postural muscles, while gaining more supported mobility of your spine. By gradual and focused realignment, those who practice Pilates will naturally gain better posture. In addition, your lifted posture combined with your increased confidence allows you to garner a grace in movement that people dream of.

3. Happiness and increased pleasure in life from aligned body, mind and spirit. Many of our internal struggles in life have to do with your mind thinking one thing while your body feels another. Sometimes your spirit may long for things that your body can’t physically do or your mind can’t fathom even trying. Life becomes amazing when all these are in sync. By revitalizing your body both internally and externally, you widen the possibilities of what you can do. As your mind focuses on being in tune with your spirit especially while being physically fit, you will find the confidence and capacity to make the desires of your spirit come true.

“Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness. Our interpretation of physical fitness is the attainment and maintenance of a uniformly developed body with a sound mind fully capable of naturally, easily, and satisfactorily performing our many and varied daily tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure.”
-Joseph Pilates, Return to Life Through Contrology

4. Develop the ability to make clear and well-balanced decisions from a well-developed mind. Pilates focuses on both physical and mental capacities of the mind. By increasing blood flow through all parts of your body, replenishing fresh air into your body and reactivating some otherwise dormant neurological cells, your brain is constantly developing to its full ability, allowing you to better use it particularly when you need it most.

“The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.” -Joseph Pilates, letter to clients, 1939

5. Gain mental control over every part of your body. The focused isolated exercises in the Pilates movements will allow your brain to reawaken the neurological receptors that are otherwise usually so dormant that they seem impossible to use.

“Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles.” – Joseph H. Pilates

6. Develop increased flexibility and corrected body alignment. According to Joseph Pilates, your age isn’t about the number of years you’re alive nor is it about the way you feel. It’s about the functional ability of your body to maintain its proper usage. Your spine and muscles are key to the structural maintenance of your body. Pilates movements will help you develop the proper form and flexibility to keep you youthful for a lifetime.

7. Gain thorough and well-balanced muscle development. The Pilates method focuses on developing not just the outer (often more visible and bulky) muscles but also the smaller more dormant muscles that you wouldn’t usually use.

8. Give your body proper organ maintenance. Maintaining your organs is something many don’t thing about but should.  We place millions of things into our bodies that can cause stress to our internal organs; the biological and genetic effects of our bodies shift the proper use of our organs; the body has an uncanny knack for messing up on its own sometimes. With increased blood flow and better oxygen levels from the breathing exercises in accordance with the Contrology movements, your organs consistently will be revitalized, refreshed and ready to do what you need from them.

9. Gain a lightened spirit from less normal stressors. With all of the great benefits you will gain from practicing Contrology, you will gain a lightened spirit from having less of the normal stressors that affect most people’s everyday lives.

10. Reserve energy for a greater life to live! By doing each revitalizing movement and rejuvenating your body and lungs on a consistent basis, you develop the ability to use less energy for normal day-to-day actions. Instead of ridding itself of the energy you gain, your body will maintain reserve energy that can be used for more play and ultimately lead to a greater life!

Excel Pilates DC was the first classical Pilates studio in Washington, DC. Located in the Brookland area of NE DC, Excel has been committed to the power and depth of the original Pilates Method of Body Conditioning, a highly evolved and in-depth program that originated from the work of Joseph H. Pilates for over 15 years. We strive to share with and inform clients of the power of the original Pilates Method by offering apparatus and mat sessions at an affordable rate, with experienced professional teachers in a safe environment. Find more information about us at