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Taking Pilates to next level

New WL studio uses machines to maximize workout results
by: Jim Hart, 
In her Willamette studio in West Linn, Certified Pilates Instructor Clare Baxter demonstrates the arabesque pose on The Reformer, which is very similar to exercise equipment designed by Joseph Pilates, founder of the popular method of achieving physical fitness.

As a child, young Clare Baxter loved dancing so much that she can't remember a time when she wasn't involved in ballet, jazz, tap, African or modern dancing.

But an injury while she was attending college sidelined her and sent her to a doctor and strength-training gymnasium.

That's when she began trying exercises that had been designed years ago by Joseph Pilates, one of the fitness industry's pioneers.

After going through a training program in 1998, Baxter started on a path that has led her to certification as a Stott Pilates instructor and her just-opened, four-room studio behind an 1895 Victorian home in the center of historic Willamette.

To recognize her 10 years in the industry, the Flourish Pilates studio will have its grand opening Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

With the training she received at the Stott Pilates school, Baxter is able to take core fitness several steps beyond the usual mat Pilates. In her Flourish Pilates studio, Baxter says Pilates is weight training and resistance training that works the entire body.

'Pilates is essential for having a strong back, flexibility and balance,' Baxter said. 'For us to truly have freedom of movement and remain healthy and 'flourish,' we need Pilates.'

Using the Stott Pilates chair, ladder barrel and spring-loaded wall unit, a fitness student is able to strengthen core muscles and stretch muscles that tend to pull the spine out of alignment during extended times of sitting with a computer.

But the anchor of all Pilates equipment is called The Reformer, a spring-loaded track chair that makes possible a multitude of exercises that Baxter says improves heart function and balance as well as strengthens and stretches muscles.

Balance also can be improved using Stott's Bosu Balance Trainer during cardio step aerobics.

Baxter had to go through more than 150 hours of rigorous training on the Pilates machines and then pass tests to prove her ability and knowledge.

Finally, she had to go through an internship program to practice her newly-gained skills under supervision and observation. And then she passed the certification exam.

Baxter is sold on the use of Pilates equipment instead of just exercises on the mat.

'You need to try Pilates on this equipment,' she said, 'in order to get the most effective results. The equipment offers resistance to achieve a fuller range of motion and maximize results.'

At Flourish Pilates, clients will find classes offered at specific times in the morning Monday through Thursday and Saturday as well as Monday and Wednesday evenings.

Those are the group sessions, but Baxter also takes appointments at other times for semi-private sessions (such as a family or a couple of friends) as well as private sessions for individuals.

In addition to operating her West Linn studio, Baxter also teaches fitness at two large gymnasiums in nearby cities.

Flourish Pilates is located at 1785 Willamette Falls Drive, between 13th and 14th streets. Take the path through the white picket fence, behind the rose arbor and alongside the 1895 Victorian home to the modern studio near Knapps Alley.

For more information, attend Saturday's open house, visit www.flourishpilates.com or call 503-869-8295. Free demonstrations can be given anytime Baxter is in the studio.