Dispatch from the Acres, Parte Uno.

Posted in Fig Columbia

Today’s guest post — which we hope will be a regular feature, which is why the title includes “Parte Uno,” which is “Part One” in Italian, y’all — comes to us from Forest Acres, a lovely place to live, we hear. Julie Turner of Wordsmith is our corespondent across town and she recently tried Pilates of Forest Acres, something the Shop Tart has been meaning to do. Except she was too busy not exercising. Ahem.

Gratuitous funny exercise photo.

Here’s what Julie has to say…

Pilates isn’t such a reach after all.

Pilates. For a long time, I associated Pilates with Gwyneth Paltrow. Not really for me. I am not graceful, nor am I particularly flexible. I’m actually a little clutzy and not a dancer. Except that time at Eve’s wedding. [Ed. Note: Julie did not exactly ask for this photo to be included, but she did provide it. And it’s awesome. She noted, “Please observe my dance partner’s exceptional skill. Notice how his thumb traps all libations from escaping the bottle. Pure genius.”]

Julie Turner, getting down.

It just didn’t seem like a good fit until I tried it at Pilates of Forest Acres.

Certified Pilates instructor Ashley Hayes, who for years operated a very successful home Pilates studio on Atascadero Drive, has embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure. Her new, larger studio features fellow fitness enthusiasts Carol Britton, Tamela Spires Hastie, Jessica Trotter Shand and Suzann Fair Sox and is now open on the second level of Richland Mall (near Belk in the space that for years was a Hallmark store).

When Ashley encouraged me to try her 5:30 Pilates mat class, I readily accepted. I didn’t really know how long the class was (55 minutes) or what I needed to wear (comfy clothes, no shoes). What I did know? I just came off a two-week vacation bender of margaritas, hot dogs and rat trap cheddar cheese. Something had to be done and I was not about to start running in this blistering heat.

When I entered the studio, Ashley was wrapping up a private Pilates session in the front of the studio. As other class attendees quietly began to appear I had the chance to soak in the environment. It is lovely. And quiet. Calming, even. The exact opposite of my messy crazy wife-mom-business owner life.

Ashley Hayes, with a client.

Surrounded by light hardwood floors, gray mats, mirrored walls and minimal equipment, my three classmates and I stretched as Ashley suggested. Then she got right down to business.


For the next hour, we stretched, reached and pushed using only our bodies, small exercise balls and a device client Susan Steiner [Ed. Note: That’s Susan of VanJean. Hi, Susan!] has affectionately dubbed the “circle of death.” Ashley demonstrated the nuances of positioning and lightly corrected us when we erred with smart, well-educated hands that guided to the proper position almost immediately. She used easy-to-understand language to describe positions and how they should feel. She also has the best posture I have ever seen in a fellow human being. It’s inspiring.

Glancing in the mirror during class, I saw muscles move I didn’t even know existed under my skin. I felt taller, leaner and more graceful than I have in years and I loved it. My perpetually tight neck muscles began to release ever so slightly. I felt the daily stress of the day seep out of my body. I began think that perhaps this form of exercise would provide healthy physical and mental benefits. Two things I am sure Gwyneth already knows.

The studio offers a variety of classes and pricing options. Barre dynamics is a faster-pace 55-minute class utilizing a ballet class-like barre to target the legs, rear and hips. An assortment of yoga and Pilates classes are appealing to and adaptable for all levels of fitness and flexibility. Or, you can opt for private Pilates instruction for one or a duet session for two people. The cost to attend one class is $15 or you can purchase multi-visit packages: 4 for $50 or 8 for $80.

The day after class, I didn’t hurt much at all. I could definitely tell I’d done something with minor tweaks and twinges I felt as I bent down or reached across my desk. But even those twinges felt really good. In fact, I bet I am sitting a little taller in my chair as I type this.

I think I’m going to really enjoy Pilates. I see why Gwyneth digs it so much.

– by Julie Smith Turner

The Shop Tart hopes Julie will provide regular updates, with photos! Kidding, kidding, Julie. Besides, we can all watch Facebook after big wedding weekends for shots of you on the dance floor.

This Just In: Ashley would like to offer a special deal for Shop Tart readers who’d like to try Pilates of Forest Acres. Mention the deal you saw here and enjoy three Barre Dynamics classes for $20. You can also use the deal for Pilates Mat — or you can mix and match!

How are you getting your exercise this summer? The Shop Tart is going to have to figure out some moves out here in the country, as she has been enjoying plenty of Italy’s delightful vino bianco

Medieval festival at Montecassiano.

… and all the delicious food that goes with it!

Medieval festival at Montecassiano.

In today’s post…

  • Pilates of Forest Acres, Richland Mall, 2nd Level next to Belk, 800-6726

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4 comments on “Dispatch from the Acres, Parte Uno.
  1. Julie says:

    I look forward to Parte Two!

  2. April says:

    Fun! I’ve been wondering when/if there was going to be any barre type classes offered in Columbia! Someone I know goes to Pure Barre in Mt. Pleasant and says it’s done wonders for her muscle tone!

  3. Julie says:

    I enjoyed a barre class on Saturday morning at 10:30. Wow. In a very good way.

  4. Paige says:

    Awesome job, Julie! Makes me want to try a class…

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Anne Postic

The Shop Tart

Local arbiter of all that is fresh, fashionable and flavorful in Columbia, the Shop Tart has been blogging about shopping, eating and having a great time since 2008.

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