Pilates redux

Pilates class registration has spiked since the pandemic.

Scroll through Instagram and you’re bound to find photos of celebrities like Hailey Bieber and the Kardashians foregoing high-intensity workouts for Pilates, an exercise invented more than a century ago. It was all the rage in the 1990s.

Thanks to the global pandemic that closed gyms and had everyone looking for easily accessible ways to work out and de-stress, Pilates seems to be making a comeback.

Designed in the early 20th century by German physical trainer Joseph Pilates, it differs from other exercises in that it’s a method, with very specific exercises done in a particular order. Much focus is placed on the core and stretching the spine.

Rose Anne Lyskava is a certified Pilates instructor for Mt. Lebanon’s Recreation Department and teaches a seven-week session on Monday nights. “First of all, I think there was just a resurgence in any kind of movement after COVID. I saw my registration pick up. I think people were just tired of sitting at home, all cooped up,” she said.

Lyskava, a former Radio City Rockette, describes Pilates as an “underground thing” a lot of dancers did over the years to rehab after injury.

Her path to teaching Pilates was a roundabout one. She majored in physical education at Penn State, where she was on track to become a teacher until she realized dance was her passion. After moving to New York and becoming a Rockette, family eventually brought her back to Mt. Lebanon.

With her dance background, she was encouraged to teach ballet when her daughter started taking lessons. When people started asking if she also taught Pilates, she thought “This is something I should learn.”

She entered a Pilates teacher training program and had to apprentice at a studio, go through several levels of workshops, then do practical teaching and lots of observation to work her way through certification.

Pilates instructor Rose Anne Lyskava is a former New York City Rockette. She says dancers use Pilates to rehab from injuries.

“I would say that we are very focused on core stabilizing and using breath and deep stretching, really paying attention to posture and moving in the most efficient way possible,” she said.

Amy Brown, Kelso Road, is one of Lyskava’s students. She was introduced to Pilates while going to physical therapy and was looking for a teacher who understands limitations while teaching the safest ways to perform the exercises. “I like most how I feel after each class—like I’m standing taller or that I have better posture,” she pointed out.

Rose Stutzman, Greenhurst Drive, had a baby a year ago and recently moved to the area. “I was looking for some time to myself while also getting out into the community,” she said, adding “I like that you get a good workout but in an almost relaxing way.”

Laura Moeller, Shady Lane, is a runner who finds Pilates to be an invaluable aspect of her training routine. “The peace of mind I experience after a class is perhaps the best perk,” she said.

Kelly Lee, 27-year Cedarhurst resident, wanted something affordable and close to home. “Mt. Lebanon has always offered wonderful classes for my children. I thought it would be a great stress reducer and a way to meet other Mt. Lebanon neighbors,” she commented.

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association recently ranked Pilates as the most popular gym activity for women.

“Here, especially in Mt. Lebanon, they make it very affordable for somebody to come and take a Pilates class,” Lyskava said. The resident fee is $49 for seven weeks, $54 for non-residents, or $9 a class for walk-ins.

“It doesn’t have a cardio element to it, but you can certainly work up a good sweat,” she added.

To register for upcoming Pilates or other exercise classes, visit the Recreation Department section of Mt. Lebanon’s website.

Photography by Elizabeth Hruby McCabe