If you’re considering being a client of mine, here are three things you should know:
1) You’re not going to like me during our sessions but you’ll like me before and after.
2) I swear a lot.
3) You’re going to flip upside down in some context, eventually.
My desire to move began right away: before I turned one, I was not only walking but climbing onto the kitchen counter to practice my newly developed skills.
I was enrolled into ballet classes when I was 5 and it became clear I had a natural talent for it. When I was 15, my mom put me in an Independent Study program for high school so I could get my GED and make ballet my profession.
I was 15 the first time I used equipment Pilates to rehabilitate myself from injuries. My ballet training had given me bilateral hip flexor tendonitis and multiple stress fractures that made it hard to walk and impossible to dance. My coach at the time, Maria Vegh, had studied with Joe Pilates when she had had a dance company in NYC in the 1960s and ‘70s. Maria’s husband had built her a couple of reformers that we kept in the ballet studio and I learned Pilates for the first time off of posters on the wall at a time when people would still ask what a “Pilate” was.
Ballet as a profession didn’t work out for me. I quit when I was 17. When I was 21, I decided to go to school for teaching Pilates because I knew I had to do something involving movement for my job.
I received my first certification in 2003 from the Integrated Teacher Training program in San Francisco founded by Jean Sullivan, Madeline Black and Jorge Chabowski. I moved to Seattle in the same year and got a job working in Redmond, WA at a studio called Balanced Within Movement Studio for Gail Anderson. I received my second (advanced) certification while working there and was lucky enough to have extensive training in anatomy, kinesiology, rehabilitation, massage, and working with special populations. I also ended up assisting in teacher training at A Balance Within Movement Studio and helped to develop the teacher training program at Pilates on 10th in Seattle.
I moved back to California in 2012 and founded Sara Shay Pilates in 2014, which is based out of my studio in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. I have a satellite studio in Pt. Reyes Station, California and offer Skype lessons out of it for Northern Californian clients.
I started pole dancing as a hobby in 2013, started teaching pole in 2014 and I began competing in 2015. I taught Pilates to the Luzia cast of Cirque du Soleil while they were in San Francisco in 2016 and again in 2017 when they were in Los Angeles. Coming from a ballet and now pole dance/circus background I have used Pilates to rehab myself more times than I can count by now. I’ve learned that for my own body, Pilates is going to be a life-long necessity and I love that my job is to help other people improve their own lives through movement education.