WATCHUNG, NJ – Back in July 2015, Linda Wilen underwent bilateral knee replacement surgery. While the procedure had its benefits, the Warren resident found herself still in pain, her left knee ‘popping’ whenever she climbed stairs.

Looking for a way to relieve the discomfort while also improving her quality of life, Wilen turned to the Pilates Design Studio in Watchung. In January 2017 she began taking private lessons with studio owner Danielle Conner and, in less than two months, began to see relief. Wilen then added a group tower class to her regime and is currently enrolled in one private and one tower class each week.

“Due to various issues, including a childhood car accident, a recent bilateral knee replacement surgery and aging, I was looking for a way to improve my movement and flexibility, as well as my overall well-being, while being easy on my joints,” said Wilen, adding, “In a very short time, my knees stopped ‘popping’ while going up the stairs, despite being told by my orthopedic surgeon that they may always ‘pop.’”

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.

“When Linda first came to me her left knee had this sever pop that would literally move her knee cap, which caused pain, when she would go up stairs. That should not be that way, especially two years out of surgery,” said Conner. “She thought this was something that would never go away and could not be fixed. I disagreed and focused on fixing the issue. Within four to six weeks we had the popping gone and she was able to do stairs without pain.”

Although physically active – she has played tennis for the past 15 years and, for the past decade, has worked out with a personal trainer twice a week – Wilen said Pilates has not only alleviated the pain in her knee but also ‘significantly improved’ her overall movement and core strength.

“During the aging process, I was feeling more compacted; Pilates has given me a sense of elongation and flexibility. My increased core strength has improved my movement and power on the tennis court,” said Wilen. “My back is less stiff and achy and, simple things, like getting out of bed in the morning have greatly improved since starting Pilates.”

Conner describes Wilen as a ‘rock star who is focused and works very hard.’ “Through her dedication, she has overcome what she thought would be limitations for the rest of her life and has succeeded at reaching her goals in our studio,” Conner said.

The fully equipped Pilates Design Studio, which opened in November 2011, 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.

“Pilates is more than exercise. It’s a practice that demands you are present in the moment and focused on the mind, the breath, and the movement; one thing flowing into next and remaining connected in the process,” said Wilen. “This sense of focus remains with you even after your session is over. I find myself moving with more intention and balance throughout the day.”

According to Conner, those who do Pilates regularly feel they have better posture, are less prone to injury, and experience better overall health. Whether you come to us because of injury or for fitness, we teach you how to work within your body to achieve the goals you want,” she said. “My certified instructors and I are very well versed in anatomy and how the body moves.”

Wilen agrees and suggests those who are on the fence about Pilates and its benefits, give the exercise regime and, specifically the Watchung studio, a try.

“There have been several times during a session with Danielle that she so in-tune with my body-mind connection that she answers my questions/concerns without my actually having to ask…” she said. “All of the Pilate’s Design Studio instructors focus on the individual, even during a group classes, and their specific issues/needs, and they are able to adapt the session accordingly. Their knowledge of the body-mind connection continues to amaze me…”

Pilates Design Studio, located at 7 Johnston Drive in Watchung (near the Watchung Circle), is open seven-days a week. All clients new are offered and encouraged to take a complimentary private class. For scheduling and class times visit or call (908) 731-5987.

To find out more about Danielle Conner and Pilates Design Studio, visit  or visit

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