How a San Francisco Pilates studio prioritizes health at every age and size
As we welcome Common City Gardens into the Common community and begin to explore more of SoMa and the adjacent Mission District, we’re excited to highlight the area’s diverse local businesses and the hard-working people behind them.
Miquel moved from New York City to San Francisco to start a new life on the West Coast. As an experienced dancer who knew the pain and injury-prevention benefits of Pilates, he embarked on a mission to slowly build a clientele and help others learn how to strengthen and move their bodies.
Fast-forward three years, he’s now the proud co-owner of Contrology Studio in the Mission District of San Francisco with his business partner Miki. We caught up with him to learn more about the challenges and triumphs of operating an independent studio and how Pilates is beneficial for all body types and ages.
How did you transition from teaching to owning your own studio?
Personally, I experienced the benefits of Pilates during my over 15-year career as a professional dancer. The exercises allowed me to stay injury-free and adjust imbalances in my body. Three years ago, I decided it was time to start a new chapter and leave behind my dance career in NYC. By slowly building my own clientele through teaching Pilates, I was able to help others stay healthy and strong while starting a new life in San Francisco!
I originally started teaching privately and renting studio space at The Pilates Center of San Francisco, and Contrology Studio was born when the owner of PCSF decided to move to Portland. Miki and I considered taking the studio over ourselves and set out to create a community space continuing in the classical pilates traditions! The studio has been an amazing learning experience and a fulfilling way to share the work entrusted to us by our mentors and teachers.
What does the name “contrology” represent?
The word “contrology” is actually the original name that Joseph Pilates used to describe his work and study of the body. We love our name because it separates us from other studios and highlights our commitment to the classical practice of Pilates. We view it as an artwork, an expression of the body, mind, and spirit. This is what we bring to each session, each class, and want it to reflect how our clients feel long after their session.
How has your studio adapted during COVID-19 restrictions?
When the shutdown originally hit San Francisco, we pivoted to offering virtual classes and private sessions for our clients. We’re exploring adding an even more robust set of virtual options for the future and are slowly offering one-on-one and semi-private lessons in the studio as restrictions start to relax. The silver lining is that we try to make our services as affordable and accessible to as a diverse group of people as possible, and the new virtual component of our business allows us to do that in a more meaningful way than ever before.
How can Pilates benefit people of all ages and body types?
From a housewife to a professional athlete, everyone has repetitive movement patterns that will create an imbalance. Pilates addresses these imbalances and places the individual in control versus at the mercy of their own body. Therefore, I find one of the biggest benefits of Pilates to be injury prevention. Small aches and pains could be a signal we get from our body that something isn’t functioning properly. In working evenly and equally, one can develop and restore the body to its physical vitality.
Unfortunately, Pilates often gets marketed to a very specific niche group of people. What has been rewarding for us at the studio is working with every body type, injury, age group, and fitness level. It’s truly wonderful to see the transformation as an instructor and give our clients the freedom to move in their life without limitations. This may be the ultimate benefit for me personally.
What do you love about the Mission District of San Francisco?
As someone who lived in NYC for over a decade, there’re very few places I’ve found that are just as eclectic and diverse, but San Francisco is one of them! The Mission District specifically is full of local restaurants, a buzzing art scene, and has a true neighborhood feel to it with familiar faces. It feels so good to be a part of a community that prioritizes diversity and a mixture of different cultures.