“Most men think of Pilates as being a ‘girlie’ type of fitness workout,” said South Salem’s Jane Bradley, owner of The Pilates Greenhouse, located in Ridgefield, Conn. “But they are mistaken, and that attitude goes away very quickly once they see how challenging and strengthening it is. Pilates, after all, was invented by a man, Joseph Pilates.”
The practice of Pilates takes in balance, flexibility, strength training, body awareness, alignment, precision, and much more, Ms. Bradley told The Ledger. Pilates uses highly specialized equipment to achieve its results.
“Pilates inspires both the body and mind,” Ms. Bradley said. “I have multiple certifications and extensive training experience over a long period of time and also offer prescriptive and rehabilitative training for clients from novices to athletes.”
Ms. Bradley said most men who come to the Pilates Greenhouse, located at 88 Danbury Road, are referred by their wives.
“They come in complaining about back and joint pain and usually start out training with their wives,” she said. “But when they see what Pilates can do for them, they often switch to solo training sessions and become very committed to the discipline.”
Ms. Bradley said their belief that Pilates is for women only is very short-lived.
“I challenge the men who come here from the get-go,” she said. “They know right away this is serious exercise that can help them reap an array of benefits.”
Ms. Bradley said her age range for clients averages from about 40 all the way up to 80.
“I have a lot of clients with joint issues,” she said. “I also work on spinal mobility and stretching, focusing on the hips and shoulders. Although Pilates can be demanding, you never want to feel pain, only a wonderful relaxed and open feeling at the end of a session.”
Ms. Bradley’s regimen for men focuses on strengthening the core of the body and eliminating that middle-aged pot belly and love handles.
“I also pay special attention to strengthening the lower back, shoulders and neck,” she said. “After a while the postural changes are huge. As a society, we spend a lot of time hunched over desks and various electronic devices. Pilates helps you stand up straight and strong, open up your chest, and just feel better.”
Ms. Bradley said that for her patients in physical therapy her goal is to achieve an absence of pain. “I want to help men and women in midlife to keep going strong,” she said. “I have many clients tell me that their work with me at the Pilates Greenhouse has kept them out of surgery. That means a lot to me.
“Challenge combined with compassion and kindness sums up my philosophy of guiding my clients toward fitness of the mind, body and spirit. Men respond to this equally as well as women, and I have been fortunate to attract a significant number of male clients.”
In addition to embracing men as clients, Ms. Bradley has a group of equestrians who compete on the show circuit.
“My riders are very oriented to their leg muscles and come to me because they want to balance them properly, rather than just focus on the quadriceps,” she said. “I also help them to correct their seat and posture within the narrow range of motion that horseback riding demands of the upper body.”
Ms. Bradley said many riders tend to develop the habit of always leaning forward but that Pilates trains and strengthens their core muscles, helping them stay easily and gracefully erect in the saddle.
“I concentrate on developing a balanced and elegant posture,” she said. “My riders develop a much better body awareness, and that translates into their horse’s performance. They tell me once they start Pilates, it’s almost impossible for them to stop because the benefits are so noticeable.”
Ms. Bradley views The Pilates Greenhouse, a calm, airy and light-filled studio accented with an array of lush plants, as the culmination of a long career in fitness where she said she can now “think, breathe and sleep Pilates.”
She formerly owned and operated Everywoman’s Spirit, a full-service health club located in Copps Hill Common in Ridgefield, but “fell in love” with Pilates several years ago and opened the Pilates Greenhouse in September 2009.
Her state-of-the-art space on Danbury Road boasts an array of gleaming Pilates equipment, plus a ballet barre.
Ms. Bradley is proud of the fact she is now able to certify Pilates instructors from beginning to advanced levels. “I can provide certification in everything from Mat Pilates on up to advanced equipment,” she said. “This is very convenient for those who do not want to travel to Boston, Hartford or New York City for Pilates certification.”
Happy in Kitchawan
Ms. Bradley has lived in the Kitchawan section of South Salem for 11 years. Her career in fitness and her life as a single mother of three daughters have offered many challenges and rewards along the way.
“I moved to Kitchawan because I enjoy the feeling of living in a small and friendly community,” she said. “My home is a Sears, Roebuck pre-fab ‘kit’ house that is one of only about 100 left in the country. It suits my needs perfectly. My business activities are in busy downtown Ridgefield, but when I come home I have a quiet lake road and the huge, beautiful Leon Levy Preserve right behind my house.
“It’s a community of kids, dogs and people who are very warm. I have the best of both worlds within a 10-minute commute and just love it.”
For information, visit thepilatesgreenhouse.com or call 203-431-8900.