Dave: In the spirit of learning and sharing with other health enthusiasts, I am excited to interview Cate Vallone, STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainer and owner of Evolution Pilates Studio.
Hello Cate! Welcome to the Guest Expert Q & A! Can you tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Cate: I am a STOTT PILATES-Certified Instructor Trainer, a somatic educator, and a personal trainer. I teach individual and group Pilates in South Windsor and Hartford, specializing in post-rehabilitative training and athletic conditioning. I also work for STOTT PILATES as an Instructor Trainer, teaching their courses in Connecticut and around the US and Canada.
For those of you that don’t know what Pilates is, it is a neuromuscular strength training program, which works to rebalance the body’s musculature to improve both static and dynamic posture and to improve daily functional activities and performance in sports and dance.
We have specialized equipment which uses springs instead of fixed weights, which creates both resistance and support for the body. This allows you to stretch and strengthen muscles at the same time. Like other mind-body fitness modalities, we emphasize proper breathing techniques, relaxation, and focus.
Dave: I remember taking a private lesson with you to learn about Pilates and experience what it’s like. You shared a few exercises on the reformer, which were fun, challenging, and therapeutic. You clearly have a lot of passion as a great instructor. Would you mind sharing a one or two reasons you became interested in what you do?
Cate: I was working as a personal trainer after college, and I took the STOTT PILATES reformer (the most popular piece of equipment in the repetoire) certification for my continuing ed credits. I happened to own a machine that my mom had handed down to me, so I thought it would be a nice tool to integrate into my training. At the end of the first day of the course, I was hooked… I went home and said to my boyfriend, “I’m never touching weights again. This machine is where it’s at!” (I have, since then, touched lots of weights… I was just high on the experience) I sprained my ankle the next day, and the teacher of the course helped me rehab it using the reformer.
Once I learned that the rehabilitative possibilities were even cooler than the fitness ones, I knew this was a great career choice for me. Although I had enjoyed my work as a personal trainer, I felt that I wasn’t doing enough to help my clients. The system of pilates filled the gap for me. It gave me a deeper understanding of how the body worked, and all the systems that had to work in tandem to produce optimal health and function.
When I began working in 2002, there were no studios in the area. Although I had never really planned to own my own business, I had no choice if I wanted to use the pilates equipment, so I bought a few machines, set up a small studio in Tolland, and then eventually grew into a larger space in South Windsor, where we could also host Pilates certification course for STOTT.
Thanks to my relationship with STOTT, and the many fantastic instructors I have met over the past several years, I am now lucky enough to own 3 studios. In addition to South Windsor, we have locations in Hartford and Glastonbury. I also feel very blessed to have a business partner now. Kelly Scallion is one of my former students and is now also an instructor trainer. It has been so helpful to have someone to share ideas and dreams (and cleaning responsibility!) with.
Dave: Congratulations! Very exciting to have grown your business to help so many people! What do you love most about what you do?
Cate: As much as I love movement and teaching, it is my clients that make me excited to show up for work every day. I have always loved meeting new people, but I never understood how rewarding the trainer/client relationship would be until I had been teaching Pilates for several years.
It’s exciting to meet new people from all walks of life (I’ve been lucky enough to work with athletes, CEO’s, broadway stars, comedians, etc.) but it’s been even more fulfilling to sustain long-term relationships with many of my clients. My clients share pieces of their lives with me, and I feel honored to be part of their successes, whether it’s achieving a fitness goal, or witnessing them raise children, get promotions, or reach for their own dreams.
A couple years ago, I had my first child, and my clients were such an important part of my pregnancy (everyone chipped in for a breast pump so I could come back to work) and have even helped me raise my daughter. She slithered, crawled, and eventually walked around the studio for the first year while I worked and I really feel like the Evolution clients make me understand the phrase, “it takes a village…” My daughter has really benefitted from being exposed to such a wide range of faces and voices.
Dave: Wow. That’s beautiful. Sounds like the client-trainer/instructor relationships are mutually beneficial and you’ve become an amazing conduit for good health through Pilates! From your perspective, how would you define good health?
Cate: Resiliency. I think the healthiest person is the one that can adapt to life’s ever-changing landscape. In terms of exercise, that means balancing out flexibility and strength to create tissues that are responsive to our activities. It means incorporating balance and coordination into working out to keep our nervous system sharp. It also includes taking time to restore and rest. Proper nutrition and hydration feed our body so it can heal. Sleep and mindful meditation let us reduce our stress so we can handle our daily life more efficiently. We live in a very stressed and rushed age. So many of my clients spend most of their week in fight-or-flight mode. At Evolution, we try to provide a place of calm and focus, where our clients can release their stress and gain their energy back.
Dave: That’s great Cate! You and your team have created a very nurturing atmosphere, which is not only relaxing, but essential for a healthy life. In closing, if people would like to learn more about you and your services, how can they contact you?
Cate: The studio phone number is 860-644-4455, and I can always be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org