2009-02-13 / Health & Wellness

Fit body, fit mind

Pilates studio owner wants clients to feel good, look good
By Daniel Wolowicz camarillo@theacorn.com

DANIEL WOLOWICZ/Acorn Newspapers PERSONAL  ATTENTION—Camarillo  resident  Leslie Brangham, owner of Just Breathe Pilates Studio, will celebrate the third anniversary of her business this year. A certified Pilates instructor,  Brangham  says  she  strives  to  create  a  warm  and inviting environment for those who work out in her studio. She offers both private and group classes. DANIEL WOLOWICZ/Acorn Newspapers PERSONAL ATTENTION—Camarillo resident Leslie Brangham, owner of Just Breathe Pilates Studio, will celebrate the third anniversary of her business this year. A certified Pilates instructor, Brangham says she strives to create a warm and inviting environment for those who work out in her studio. She offers both private and group classes. Sure Leslie Brangham likes to hear when one of her clients has dropped a dress size or can finally slip into her favorite pair of "skinny" jeans.

But what Brangham, owner of Camarillo's Just Breathe Pilates Studio, really loves is when her clients not only start looking better but also feeling better about themselves.

"I really like seeing the changes in people's bodies but also their confidence about themselves," said Brangham, a longtime Camarillo resident and mother of two. "They walk in with a little low body image, and, hopefully, I can get them to walk out with a better body image."

Just Breathe Pilates Studio opened nearly three years ago after Brangham took a leap of faith and decided to start the local business.

Pilates is a type of exercise developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates, a German-born fitness instructor, who based the program on strengthening the body's core muscles while focusing on proper posture and focused breathing.

The program incorporates a resistance machine, better known as a Pilates reformer, to build and tone muscle. The popularity of Pilates, once mainly used by professional dancers, has skyrocketed in the past decade and has spread throughout the world.

A certified Pilates instructor, Brangham said she began taking Pilates classes about 10 years ago to help straighten poor posture caused by her job as a manicurist.

"I was reading an article in a magazine about Pilates, and it just spoke to me," said Brangham, who was told by her Pilates instructor not too long after she started that she should teach a class.

"I laughed and said, 'Are you kidding me? I'm a couch potato.' I was not a fitness enthusiast. I was just your average person," Brangham said.

But Brangham was hooked. She earned multiple accreditations, most notably one from Florida-based Polestar Pilates Education, and began teaching at various studios throughout Ventura County. Prompted by her clients, Brangham opened her Camarillo studio in 2006.

She said it's important to her that her clients feel at home while working out.

"I really wanted to create a warm and friendly atmosphere," said Brangham in her fully equipped storefront studio tucked into Dos Caminos medical plaza on Las Posas Road. "I didn't want people to feel intimidated. I want them to know that when they come in it's just me and them. I have many people who come in their bedroom slippers because it's just cozier that way."

Brangham recently added the services of Camarillo resident Sonrisa Roulier, a homeopath.

Homeopathy is a holistic approach to healing that uses natural remedies to help cure common ailments while addressing both the mind and the body.

Roulier, who has about 75 clients in her practice, said she met Brangham when she started taking classes at the studio two years ago.

The two women say Pilates and homeopathy complement each other because they both work to improve the mind, body and spirit.

"You need to work out, and you need to have the body toning, but you need to have the mental and internal fitness as well," said Roulier, who has been a homeopath for nearly 10 years.

Although most people are faced with tough economic times, Brangham said, an investment in a workout program always pays off in the long run.

"You need to find something for yourself that's going to make you feel good on a daily basis, that's ongoing,"she said. "If you go on vacation, you have pictures and memories, and that's great, but if you invest a little bit more in yourself, the return is ongoing."

Brangham lives in Camarillo with her husband, Waldie, a retired firefighter. The couple has two sons, Trevor, 22, and Derek, 19, who attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Just Breathe Pilates Studio, 3639 Las Posas Road, Ste. E115, is open Monday through Thursday and on Saturday. For hours and class information, call (805) 482-7110 or visit www.justbreathepilates.net.

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