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Project Best Life: Mindful Movement

Time and time again, it has been proven that a main key to living the best life possible is having a healthy and balanced body. Gratefully, there are many ways of obtaining both. Although balance can refer to different things, here we are going to look at physical balance in the body. Luckily, Buffalo hosts a number of boutique studios that cater specifically to re-balancing, strengthening, and connecting the body through specific movements.

Many exercise experts and studios use the Pilates Method as the basis for their exercise practice.

In the early 20th century, a man by the name of Joseph Pilates developed a fitness activity he called Contrology (control + -logy) as a low impact system designed to increase flexibility and endurance, and improve posture and balance. For many people, the word Pilates” has come to be identified with core strength,” but in actuality, the system provides an intense full body workout that goes beyond rippling abdominals.

Joseph Pilates developed his system after an influenza outbreak on the Isle of Man during WW1. By retrofitting hospital beds with pulleys, ropes, and strings, he developed a series of exercises to help rehabilitate those infected. It has been suggested that Pilates work aided with the survival of those infected during the TB pandemic of 1918 on the Isle of Man.

After the war, Joseph Pilates settled in New York City, and started to teach his system to boxers in order to help them take punches to the stomach. Eventually, Pilates connected with dancers from the New York City Ballet who were looking to supplement their training — an enduring match was made, and the marriage of these two forms became history.

A mindful movement system that combines Pilates principles such as concentration, centering, breathing, control, precision, and flow, as well as concepts from dance or other modalities, can benefit all who study.

Whether the class is directly connected to dance, or a more traditional Pilates Method, everyone, regardless of age or flexibility, can benefit from Mr. Pilates’ system.

Consider supplementing your best life routine by taking a class or two.

Long and Lean Pilates

Buffalos premiere Pilates Studio, Long and Lean Pilates is located at 515 Elmwood Ave, in the heart of Elmwood Village. The studio, opened by Hayley Sullivan in 2015, specializes in private and small group reformer based Pilates classes.

Hayley describes a typical class as a good balance of strength and mobility work that builds those skills simultaneously, creating balance in the body. In a typical class, you can expect to work your core a lot, flex your spine a lot, and feel a burn in your thighs, but feel lifted and long and centered when you leave the studio.”

The reformer, a classic piece of Pilates equipment, is at the root of all of Hayleys Long and Lean Pilates classes.

“A private session at our studio is almost exclusively on the Pilates apparatus. My teaching practice is really all about the individual. It is so customizable, no two sessions are alike. We make each session be what each person needs. Just because one person can do one exercise, doesnt mean the next person can. So, I really use the Pilates repertoire and break it down and modify it as needed. All our clients build the skills that Pilates methodology offers, in a way that is safe for their bodies.”

The entire staff of Long and Lean Pilates believes that everyone can benefit from this practice. Anyone can do Pilates,” says Hayley, we have clients who are in their 20s, and we have clients who are in their 70s. We have clients who come for fitness and strengthening and toning, and clients who come for rehabilitation post-injury. We actually have physical therapists on our staff. We can sneak in alignment and mobility work while also giving someone a great workout. So truly, Pilates is for anyone who wants to do it. It is great for athletes and also beginners who want to start a movement practice.”

Location: 515 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222

Phone: (716) 881-2057


Instagram: @longandleanpilates

REFORM Fitness

REFORM Fitness has studio locations in Orchard Park and on Elmwood Ave that utilize the Lagree Fitness™ method.

Lagree Fitness™ workouts take place on a Megaformer™, which has been described as a Pilates reformer on steroids.

Brittany Gabryel, the founder of REFORM Fitness describes the practice as a full body workout in 40 minutes, that includes strength training, cardio, endurance, core, flexibility, and balance in each and every workout. It features slow controlled movements, so it allows each individual to focus on the movement and the muscle that is working, rather than using momentum. We focus on time under tension, so movements are not done under reps or sets, but each exercise is done for one to two minutes, which leads to dramatic results.”

Many report that going to classes at REFORM has benefitted them. Brittany thinks this is because, You are getting all five types of fitness; cardio, endurance, strength training, flexibility and balance. Flexibility and balance are going to help you in everyday life. Knowing that your balance is strong is going to help you prevent injury. A lot of injuries happen when you are thrown off balance. Strength training is usually peoples goal, and that is a huge part of this method, and having cardio and endurance is also a great benefit.”

Brittany and her employees welcome everyone at their studio. REFORM Fitness welcomes all genders. It was created by Sebastien Lagree, a bodybuilder, who, like Joseph Pilates, saw the benefits in lengthening, strengthening, and toning muscles. At REFORM Fitness, we have women come in who love the workout because they build strength quickly, and they see the results quickly, and build long lean muscles, and we have men who love this workout because it challenges them and forces them to slow down, and focus on their muscles and movement, rather than picking up weights and putting them down quickly.”

Location: 467 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222 |  6562 E Quaker St, Orchard Park, NY 14127

Phone: (716) 662-3181


Instagram: @reformfitness


Barre classes are based upon a workout technique inspired by elements of ballet, yoga, weight training, and Pilates. Barre is named for the stationary handrail (barre) that is a fixture in ballet training and studios. Located at 503 Delaware Ave, this barre studio was founded by head barre[tender]Megan Leith.

Barre[tend] caters to women who arent super flexible.  “When I started taking bare classes, I was frustrated because I felt that the focus on the class was on women who could lift their legs up really high, or could do moves that I could never do, regardless of how often I went.  Sometimes I would leave feeling frustrated, so when I got the idea to open up Barre[tend], I really wanted to focus on women who werent dancers, who werent athletes, but could feel comfortable coming to a barre studio and could get a great work out and not feel self-conscious.”

The practice of Barre[tend] is more athletic than balletic.  “We do a 40 minute head to toe workout.  We do a warm up, a little work on the barre for the glutes and the legs, we do some arms, some abs and some planks, and a cool down. We are at the ballet barre, but that doesnt mean we are doing ballet dance moves. We do very small, controlled movements using light weights.  Doing small movements in a controlled, precise way is a lot different than going to the gym and using stamina to lift the weight up.  It takes a couple of classes to get used to because it is unique, but it is well worth it.”

Barre[tend] caters to both men and women, but has a special consideration for a certain overlooked population. Megan says, We do a lot of classes for new moms. Right now due to COVID, we are outside, and all of our outdoor classes are stroller friendly.  We actually do stroller barre! I want new moms to feel like they have a place to come work out.  You can come to Barre[tend] babies are always welcome and encouraged.”

Location: 503 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

Phone: (716) 768-4393


Instagram: @barretend

For more tips and inspiration to help live a healthy, happy and balanced life to the fullest, subscribe to Roswell Parks #projectbestlife newsletter.

Project Best Life Instagram: @projectbestlife716

Written by Daniel Lendzian

Daniel Lendzian

Dan is a working artist and author trained in classical and contemporary theatre techniques. An adaptive and empathetic educator, Dan helps people discover their own unique voice. Having mentored more than 1,200+ students across the U.S. and in Florence, Italy, as well as performed in hundreds of individual shows on international, national, and regional stages. Currently, Dan is a lecturer at SUNY Fredonia, and now a storyteller + host for Buffalo Rising's (soon to launch) #stilltalking series podcast.

As an author, Dan writes micro-fiction and has devised dozens of original works of theatre. He is currently working on a collaborative interview project. Dan is a certified Pilates Instructor and completed his Masters of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin.

View All Articles by Daniel Lendzian
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