Sakonnet Vineyards owner Susan Samson hurt her back performing in a play in New York City in the 1950s and, through references, visited Joseph Pilates, the founder of the physical fitness and sports conditioning exercises, and returned to full health.
Samson, now 73, hurt her back again five years ago playing tennis and decided to revisit Pilates. She contacted Leah Kilborn, owner and trainer of Little Compton Pilates at 33 Shaw Road, and admits the contemporary offering at her studio has kept her core rehabilitated, in shape and promotes better posture.
"I can [still] lift a 40-pound case of wine," she said.
Kilborn has 15 years experience teaching Pilates. Her studio, entering its seventh year in business, employs three other trainers, including Westport trainer Tanya Martin, experienced in modern dance and power Pilates. She also houses a yoga studio next door hosted by a trainer with 12 years experience. Her space contains all the necessary Pilates and conditioning equipment from the beginner to the advanced, and she said most of her clientele is from Little Compton, including some from nearby Tiverton and Westport, MA.
"I want Susan to live her life at [age] 73 at 85 to 90," Kilborn said, noting Samson's doctor reports, thanks to her regular Pilates training, have been positive.
"Even though arthritis is coming on, her bone density is strong," she noted.
Kilborn said her approach is contemporary, looking at an individual's range of motion and how they move. She said any body of any age can do this training, and especially wants Little Compton residents to know that her training is available for them. She knows a lot of Pilates classes are large, with too many people and sometimes the trainer is not aware of the individual.
Kilborn said at her studio she has four to five person classes and provides that one-on-one attention. Some of her clients, like Samson, are 70 or older.
"It gives your confidence back," she said. "It's about finding your foundation, with breath exercises, to use with the integration of your body."
Area resident Sarah B. Desjardins said Pilates is not a piece of cake and some days she has to force her old body to go to class.
"However, after an hour's session I feel so great, as if I'd done something so positive for myself both physically and mentally," she said. "Leah and Tanya challenge me to go further and do better, always checking on me to see if I'm doing everything correctly, using my 'inner core.'"