Acclimating with Leah: Yoga with a side of Pilates at Steamboat Pilates & Fitness |

Acclimating with Leah: Yoga with a side of Pilates at Steamboat Pilates & Fitness

Leah Vann

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — I don’t consider myself a yoga person; I’m not flexible or graceful.

But when I stepped into Steamboat Pilates & Fitness on Thursday, none of that mattered.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a yoga or Pilates person, learn how to use your body and appreciate it,” co-owner Kristin Stevenson said.

I went to the Pilates, Yoga and Core class, taught by Jess Ryan.

While I’ve been to yoga classes before, this one was different. We started the class with red balls tucked between our shoulder blades as we went through a series of core-strength movements.

Then, we transitioned into yoga poses before finding a way to mix in abdomen work.

“I think when you do yoga with a more Pilates base, it’s so much better. Pilates is just a way of moving. You start moving from your core,” Stevenson said.

The class was humbling.

I can back squat 210 pounds, but tell me to stand on one foot with my other leg stretched out parallel to the floor for more than 10 seconds and I’m shaking.

Ryan is an attentive instructor, but not too attentive where she’s correcting your every move. It’s clear she can assess the class as it progresses, catering to what might work for everyone and showing more advanced pose modifications.

The only reason I remember the term Vinyasa flow is because she allowed us to transition into child’s pose between difficult movements.

And I live for child’s pose.

For those who don’t know, it involves sitting on your knees, putting your head down and reaching your hands far out in front of you, stretching your back.

Stevenson emphasizes the importance of core strength in fitness, saying that athletes could advance and prevent injury if they incorporate more Pilates-based exercise.

“It’s anything you do. You get in your car and you want to feel like you’re centered,” Stevenson said. “These are the building blocks of your spine, and my favorite quote by Joseph Pilates is, ‘You’re only as old as your spine feels.’”

That’s what inspired her and co-owner Wendy Puckett to start a kids program next door.

In a room full of stationary bikes, treadmills, balance boards and other fitness tools, college-aged trainers work with children to hone their body and the way it moves before taking on higher-level training like weightlifting.

Walking into any gym or fitness studio takes a certain level of confidence, and Steamboat Pilates & Fitness looks to instill that confidence that carries outside the studio.

“My little 20-year-old girls are getting so strong,” Stevenson said. “They go to college and it shifts the way they date, the way they hold themselves and respect themselves. The chain reaction is really fun to watch.”

Between every series of poses at my class, Ryan said, “Take a moment and appreciate your body.”

In that moment, I thanked my banged-up, muscular body for doing something out of my comfort zone, which it desperately needed.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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