RAMSEY, N.J. – When Renee Zeoli of Ramsey first encountered Pilates, a physical fitness system more than 100 years old, she didn’t think it was for her.
One day a group of other certified fitness instructors asked her to join them at a Pilates training facility in New York City.
At the time she was teaching fitness classes at New York Sports Club.
“Pilates on Fifth was owned by twin sisters,” recalled Zeoli, 49. “When I went, I was a fish out of water. The people there were all dancers. I was a gym rat. Meanwhile, they were all tall and very graceful. I thought, I can’t do this.”
Turns out, she could. And she did.
For the past 12 years, Zeoli has run Personal Pilates by Renee in a studio inside her Ramsey home. There she has some of the Pilates apparatus and mats on which she teaches Stott Pilates, a newer version of the original system.
“All Pilates programs, including the original Pilates, follow the same basic principles,” she said. “A lot of it is core work. The method works from the center of your body out to your extremities.”
There’s a lot of stretching and elongation of the muscles, she said, and a lot of balance and control.
“Stott has changed with the times, with medicine,” Zeoli added. “It does work and it’s very functional. Anybody from a kid to an elderly person can do it.”
Most of her clients have been with her for 10 years, she said, though she does take on new ones.
True to the name of her fitness business, Zeoli starts slowly with clients until she understands the particularities of their physiques.
“I keep my classes small. The more you get to know a body, the easier it gets for the person and the trainer,” she said. “It should be very personal because everybody is different.”
Modifications to standard moves, for instance, can take into account that a person has, say, a tendency toward a certain injury or scoliosis.
The individuation even extends to personality. Taking that into account, Zeoli said, ensures that a client doesn’t lose interest.