WATCHUNG, NJ – When physical therapy didn’t help alleviate the pain or improve the range of motion in her frozen shoulder, Sandy Williams turned to the Pilates Design Studio. The 69-year-old Warren resident took her first class with studio owner Danielle Conner in January 2017 and, within a few short weeks, began to see – and feel – results.
“I heard Pilates was very intense and challenging so I was a little nervous about doing it with my back problems,” said Williams, who suffers from osteoporosis and a slight case of scoliosis. “I was concerned about the instructor pushing me beyond my capabilities and causing injury. I had heard horror stories, but when I learned that Danielle worked with people with spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, herniated discs, scoliosis, etc., I was willing to give it a try.”
According to Conner, who opened the Johnston Drive studio in 2011, when Williams first came to the studio she seemed resigned to living with the pain and limited mobility. “Sandy didn’t think that her shoulder would be able to get any better and that she would have to live with it as is for the rest of her life. I definitely didn’t agree with that and began work on the shoulder,” said Conner.
Williams took a private session once a week and, within two months saw her quality of life improve. “Within two months, she was pain free and had full range of motion back in her shoulder. Her back is no longer stiff and she feels taller and stronger,” said Conner. She continues doing her private session once a week and has now added a group tower class to once a week to her schedule.
Pilates is a system of exercises that uses special apparatus designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness and the Pilates Design Studio, located on Johnston Drive, offers one-hour, one-on-one instruction as well as group classes, each customized to fit each client’s individual needs.
In addition to reducing the pain and increasing the mobility in her shoulder, Williams said Pilates has helped in other ways. “I needed to strengthen my core muscles. I wanted to become more limber, flexible. I wanted to reduce my risk of falling and breaking a bone. I wanted to improve my posture. I wanted to be the best I could be for a person my age and capabilities,” said Williams. “I wanted to strengthen muscles to protect/support my lumbar area. I saw results quicker than I expected.”
Additionally, she said, Pilates has also helped strengthen her thoracic (upper back) area, making it easier for her to be on her feet. “Initially I thought it was my lower back that that needed all the work. I never realized how much the other parts of my back could be strengthened,” said Williams. “It is easier to stand straighter [and] and for] longer periods of time. Also, I walk for exercise and now I am able to walk longer distances now.”
“I know a good diet and exercise are important to live a healthy, productive life; however, I never realized the impact something like Pilates could have on my overall wellbeing,” Williams added. “The bottom line – it is easier to move, sit, stand. It is just easier to be.”
Conner credits Williams for being ‘truly focused and diligent’ when it comes to both classes and at-home exercises. “At 69, she has gained back her quality of life and is able to enjoy all the things she likes to do and no longer feels limited in her capabilities,” Conner said.
Williams agrees. “I am 69 years old and know the years are taking its toll. However, after just a few months (maybe even less) of Danielle’s custom Pilates, I am no long stiff. I am more agile and sometimes I almost feel weightless, more balanced. I don’t think I felt this good in my 30s and the interesting thing is I am just getting started.”
The fully equipped Pilates Design Studio, located at 7 Johnston Drive in Watchung (near the Watchung Circle) and open seven-days a week, offers Pilates for fitness and rehabilitation for all age groups and physical abilities. Additionally, it is the only Pilates studio in New Jersey that offers Body Balance suspension training and Neuroscience based drills through the Zhealth Education System to help stop chronic pain and create efficient movement patterns. All new clients are offered and encouraged to take a complimentary private class.
For scheduling and class times visit https://pilatesdesignstudio.com or call (908) 731-5987. To find out more about Danielle Conner and Pilates Design Studio, visit or visit https://www.tapinto.net/towns/north-plainfield-slash-green-brook-slash-watchung/articles/pilates-design-studio-of-watchung-specializing.
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By VICTORIA CARUSO