Customized Pilates

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Customized Pilates - Rhea Willis

When it comes to getting in shape, there’s nothing like a little
one-on-one attention, and Customized Pilates in Austin offers just that. Discovering that people tend to have better overall workout experiences when they receive individual attention, owner Rhea Willis decided to open a home studio. Trading her living room furniture for Pilates equipment, she offers mat sessions, as well as work on the reformer, the Cadillac and the wunda chair.

A former commercial make-up artist who says regular exercise
wasn’t always a part of her life, Willis first tried Pilates after being diagnosed with high cholesterol at the age of 40. “The doctor told me: If you don’t get this [cholesterol level] down, I’m going to medicate you,” she remembered. “I just felt that I was way too young for that.” She started completing Pilates DVDs, then moved to classes and soon found herself pursuing the certifications necessary to become an instructor. “After starting Pilates and changing my diet, my cholesterol dropped from 256 to 145,” she said. “I was really impressed.”

To date, all of Willis’ clients are women, ranging from their mid-30s to mid-60s. “There’s a special place in my heart for working with women because I think it’s a group that often gets ignored,” she explained. “I like to be the person who helps them find an exercise they enjoy.”

She says Pilates is a good workout because the injury risks associated with it are few and far between. By avoiding impact, joint health is preserved, while muscles are strengthened through a series of controlled movements.

Since most of her clients are novices upon first visiting her studio, she’s careful to ease them into exercises and tailor workouts to each individual. “I always take the time before each lesson to write down what we’re going to do and make sure we’re progressing,” she said. “I call it ‘Customized Pilates’ because I do something different with every person.”

Most sessions consist of either an hour on the equipment, a half hour on the mat, or some combination of the two. She also has stability balls, thera-bands, magic circles and other props to assist in workouts.

“It’s nice to have an ongoing relationship with my clients and see their progress in taking inches off and learning new moves,” she said. “It really makes me feel like I’m doing something that’s making their lives better.”

-Mackenzie Lobby

Competitor Magazine article (PDF 1.9MB)