Using resistance to reach goals

A pilates class works out at Complete Pilates & Fitness in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Science has prompted many changes in the ways people exercise over the years, but residents of the Santa Clarita Valley are beginning to recognize the benefits of pilates, prompting the formation of new businesses and programs in the area.

When one thinks of pilates, most imagine a version similar to mat pilates, which is common in gyms and other workout facilities, but studios like Suzi Smith’s tend to specialize in an equipment-based version of the popular workout routine.

Step into Complete Pilates & Fitness on Lyons Avenue between Monday and Saturday and you’ll surely find yourself thrust into a full-body workout that will offer unbelievable results, class participants said back in February.

With a number of different machines and multiple reformers, Smith is able to offer a complete pilates experience that will leave participants — young and old — feeling renewed, she said.

Two women stretch during a pilates class at Complete Pilates & Fitness in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“Every session we do legs, arms, core work, back and hips,” and there’s plenty of towers, cadillacs, chairs and barrels located throughout the studio, Smith said.

As director of the studio, the master instructor can often be seen constantly moving throughout her various classes, focusing on the ways she can help each client. Usually it’s something as simple as an adjustment or modification to a stretch, but other injuries can require more workarounds.

Luckily, all of the equipment is resistance-based, so it replaces weights and allows you to develop long and lean muscles, Smith said. “That’s what attracts people to pilates. You don’t get that bulky muscle. You look thinner, taller (and) it is great for bone density.”

As the pedals to some machines creaked during one recent class, a pilates participant yelled, “It’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Suzi Smith (third from left) instructs her pilates class at Complete Pilates & Fitness in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

Usually, the average Complete pilates class will feature 10 or so members exercising for about an hour.

Some who have been doing the class for as long as a decade said once you do it, you’re addicted. Others added nothing alleviates their aches like pilates and the routine has helped them handle chronic pain and even osteoporosis.

“That’s the beauty of pilates,” Smith said. “I’ve had people come in with a cast. I’ve got people who come in with crutches, but they all can still workout because it is all so easily modified for every person.”

It’s not like that at every studio, Smith said, “but in here, that’s what we do.”

Smith said she first got into pilates as a dancer in an effort to prevent injuries and has been teaching for 19 years.

Suzi Smith looks over her class at Complete Pilates and Fitness in Newhall. Cory Rubin/The Signal

She has taught in the space on Lyons Avenue for 15 years, and has owned it for the last five. Today, she offers a number of other services in her studio, according to her website, including Barre.

Barre is pilates based, “but my class is also cardio based as well,” Smith said. “ A lot of my clients come here because they don’t like the gym. They really want to come in and have a more intimate experience.”

Smith said her barre class is low-impact, meaning it could be a good replacement for running and walking. It’s also modifiable for those who have ankle or knee injuries.

“If you aren’t into weight or exercise machines then pilates is the way to go. It’s very popular and it’s certainly a form of working out, said William Holstein, general manager of the Henry Mayo Fitness and Health center.

“We’ve done pilates mats, but there was definitely a demand for more,” Holstein said. This is why Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health hopes to have a studio strictly dedicated to a pilates program of its own some time around July or August.

Demolition work was recently completed in an effort to expand, Holstein said, “so we’ll now be able to have pilates reformers in the facility.”

Six to be exact, he added, and the center is currently interviewing pilates instructors who could offer “private and semi-private pilates sessions.”

“We want to make sure we get the best of the best,” the general manager said, adding, “It’s no different than any other of the other fitness programs available.”

More information on the prospective Henry Mayo program can be found by contacting the front desk at 661-200-2348 or visiting

More information on Complete Pilates & Fitness can be found by visiting

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