November 26, 2014

HEALTH & WELLNESS: Shannon Lashua and The Pilates Den

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Shannon Lashua demonstrates a Pilates maneuver on the trapeze table at her home-based Pilates studio in Williston. (Observer photo by Luke Baynes)

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Shannon Lashua has a Cadillac parked in the den of her Williston home.

Except her Caddy isn’t the kind with chrome rims and fuzzy dice dangling from the rearview.

Lashua’s “Cadillac” is also known as a trapeze table, and her den is The Pilates Den, her home-based business that utilizes the piece of exercise equipment invented by Joseph Pilates, the German-born fitness guru who immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century and founded the exercise discipline known for its promotion of long, lean muscles.

Lashua, a Manhattanite who studied modern dance at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, was trained in the classical form of Pilates that adheres to the original teachings of its namesake.

But when the time came to open her own business six years ago, she opted for the contemporary school of evolved Pilates.

“The traditional work is very much based on a system, so you have a certain amount of exercises that one performs in a specific order,” Lashua explained. “In my opinion, it’s somewhat limited in terms of movement variation. One of the things we’ve learned about the body is that it needs constant change. You need to shake up what you’re doing all the time to affect your neuromuscular system and to make changes in the body.”

Lashua hosts regular Monday and Friday morning group classes at her Sundown Drive home, but the core of her business is providing private or semi-private Pilates instruction.

“I consider my job to break down people’s patterns and help their brain create new pathways of movement,” Lashua said. “In a nutshell, what we do with the mat work and the apparatus is we try to take the joints through a full range of motion whenever possible … to reteach the body proper movement patterns. It’s very holistic, but the idea is that you’re only as strong as your core. Like a tree, you’re only as strong as your trunk.”

Although Pilates is Lashua’s exercise discipline of choice, she conceded that it is not the “be all and end all” of fitness regimens.

“(Pilates) is really safe to do with any other form of exercise, and it’s really important to be doing cardio in addition to Pilates,” she said. “There is no one exercise out there that is going to fulfill all of your body’s needs. It doesn’t exist. You need to challenge your body in as many different ways as possible.”

She also stressed that while her 55-minute classes will provide a comprehensive workout, that shouldn’t stop a person with a busy schedule from doing whatever length or form of exercise they can manage during a hectic workday.

“That’s a huge message that I would like to get out to people, is 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there is fantastic. It’s great,” Lashua said. “Stop thinking you need an hour to exercise.”

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