Hali Tsotetsi

Who knew that Pilates could be THIS fun?


I have only recently gotten into Pilates. Honestly, seeing a lot of friends and celebrities' Instagram posts about Pilates has inspired my interest into this low-impact approach of working out. Not to mention, also seeing some of the transformations by Pilates, leaving people's bodies more defined and with less cellulite.


Although, how our bodies look is not the main focus, it can be a bonus to the benefits of having a healthy and full range of muscular activity.


I would be lying to you if I told you that when I walked into East River Pilates' Open Reformer class I wasn't nervous. However, my nerves began to calm as I spoke to The Instructor, Helen Phelan. She was warm, kind and made me feel comfortable even though it was my first time on the intimidating machine.


The class took place at their studio on Broadway and was 55 minutes long, which went by pretty quickly. Clearly, I was having fun. Who knew that was possible? I had always thought of Pilates being boring and taking up a lot of my time or too hard. Well, I was wrong!


She instructed the class very well and used terminology that applied to anatomy but not in a show-off way, just to inform us. When she adjusted us, it was clear that she had every intention of guidance; not force.



When I visited the other location, which is a bit bigger but still the same clean decor, friendly faces and fresh smell, I took an intermediate mat class. The class was led by Tina Luo. Her instructions were clear and she made sure to check on each of us to see that we were doing the postures correctly. Which I greatly appreciate about East River Pilates. I felt like I was in good hands.


Tina played urban pop from the early 2000s, which brought back great memories of me being in High School and helped me get through it easier. It was a challenging class. However, when I wanted to give up, Tina came around to reassure me that I could get through it. I always appreciate positive affirmation and, East River Pilates oozes positivity, challenge and fun.


I recommend this studio as it is fun, friendly and the next day my body was tighter- literally magic! I plan on practicing Pilates myself at least once a week here. 


*East River Pilates has two locations on Broadway and  South 1st, both in Williamsburg.


Here is more on the instructors:



HELEN PHELAN   Photo by Dan Batten


Photo by Dan Batten

Helen began teaching mat Pilates in 2013 while finishing her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography and BA in Psychology at Elon University, but found a deeper passion for the method after making full recovery from a dance injury that she attributes to its rehabilitative powers. Since completing her comprehensive contemporary equipment certification in 2015 under Lawson Harris, Helen maintains her education with various workshops in NYC and has further studied Prenatal/Postpartum Pilates & Diastasis Correction, Gait Correction, Pilates for the Elderly, Pilates for Scoliosis under Erika Bloom and Reiki 1 at Maha Rose. Helen's classes are both athletically challenging and technically specific for the beginner and advanced practitioner alike. Helen lives and teaches in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at East River Pilates. When she's not at the studio, she's learning French and taking her new puppy to the dog park. Find out more at www.helenvphelan.com@helenvphelan 





Photo by Hayley Hill

Originally on the path to becoming a physical therapist, Tina was first introduced to Pilates while she was completing an internship at The Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. After becoming certified on the reformer, she got hooked and realized that Pilates is not only incredibly effective, but that teaching it is really rewarding.

Tina believes Pilates can be incorporated into any form of exercise and has previously taught boot camps, interval training, and TRX, all with a Pilates mindset. With her knowledge of anatomy, experience working with diverse body types and fitness goals, and background in rehabilitation, multiple sclerosis, and pre and post natal clients, her teaching style is informed, precise, and tailored. In Tina's eyes, Pilates should be challenging and never boring!


Why I recommend yoga for everyone


As a yoga teacher, I often hear people describe how yoga has transformed their lives. That's one of the reasons many yogi gurus believe that yoga was created more than 5000 years ago — for a sense of peace and relaxation.

With so many people joining the yogamovement, I want to share with you a few reasons why I think that every single person should be a part of it:


1. You learn to breathe.

When you deepen your breath, not only do you strengthen your lung muscles, you also teach your body and mind how to deal with stressful situations by calming your nervous system. Through your breath, you can learn how to respond responsibly once your body has had time to digest a situation.

2. You learn to stay in a challenging position.

Many people have the misconception that yoga is just stretching and is easy; however, many styles of yoga have postures that challenge you so that you learn to deal with challenges without running away from them. I teach a form of hot yoga that's just a challenge to stay in a room of 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Yoga teaches you that if you breathe through difficulty you can become stronger than if you run away.


3. Balancing poses challenge your ego.

It's not easy to stand on one leg for one minute. Your mind starts to blame, judge and criticize after a few seconds. The ego wants to know why you can't do the pose like the yoga poster that's on the door of the yoga studio. During balancing, you have to make a choice to rid yourself of wanting to be perfect and accept yourself for who you are, or you'll keep on falling out of the pose and creating negativity that compromises your sense of peace.

4. You learn where to place your energy.

In yoga, you learn about placement of energy. If you spend your time telling yourself that you aren't good enough and beating yourself up about poses, it is energy that won't help you progress in peace. If you spend your time wanting to compete with the person next to you, it won't help you peacefully progress either. However, if you focus your energy on yourself and the pose, you have a great chance of having a peaceful and enjoyable yoga practice.

5. Each pose has a different benefit for your physical health.

From backbends to spine strengtheners, from core strengtheners to abdominal stretches, from compression poses to releasing poses, yoga has a wide array of health benefits. Yoga styles vary, but most of them have a common trait: people who practice many forms of yoga improve flexibility and tone their muscles all in one yoga session.


*Hali Tsotetsi is a certified yoga teacher. For private lessons, contact halitst@icloud.com