Meet Pilates and Barre Instructor Kristen Shaffer

June 28, 2016

Meet Kristen Shaffer, a Certified Pilates Teacher who completed the Comprehensive Teacher Training Program on all Pilates apparatus and mat under the tutelage of Dilla Mastrangelo, MA, a classically-trained, second generation Master Pilates Teacher Trainer teaching in the Core Dynamics tradition. Kristen has practiced pilates since 1999 and has been teaching since 2007. She is a Member of the Pilates Method Alliance. Kristen is now teaching barre classes, too. Stop by the studio to meet Kristen, or better yet, sign up for one of her classes!

STUDIO BE: Please tell our readers a little about yourself.

KRISTEN: I’m just like you…. But, I have a secret! Like you, I am moving through a fast-paced and ever-changing world, adapting to new environments and stresses in life and trying to do my best to achieve my goals. And I am still enjoying myself along the way. My secret is Pilates! With Pilates, moving is easier, better and more joyful. With Pilates, your body gets what it needs. A lifelong practice of Pilates is the best way to stay connected and engaged to YOUR life experience. 

STUDIO BE: When were you first introduced to Pilates, and what led you to become an instructor?

KRISTEN: I am from South Louisiana and have a Pilates teacher friend, Carol Conway, who trained with Romana Kryzanowsky, a first generation Pilates instructor. I started a regular Pilates practice in 1999 with Carol; and as we moved through the Pilates work, she suggested I consider teaching. I was living on the West Coast at the time and life didn’t present me with the teacher training opportunity until 2007 with Dilla Mastrangelo.

STUDIO BE: What and who have been the strongest influences in the Pilates world, and how do they impact your teaching?

KRISTEN: Joseph Pilates’ brilliance continues to inspire me. The classical work and exercises are an elixir for body and mind to work together and function at YOUR optimal level no matter your age, health, or degree of athleticism. Pilates is for everybody, from the most advanced athlete to the beginning Pilates’ practitioner. There have been many adaptations of the exercises; but the work in its truest form, conditions the body and mind for health, dexterity and strength.

I continue to learn and hone my teaching skills by active affiliation with Pilates Method Alliance, continued teacher training with Core Dynamics, Peak Pilates, and the global online Pilates communities of Pilates Anytime and Pilatesology.

STUDIO BE: You have a background in the arts and mention you’ve had a lifelong interest in “artful and efficient movement.” How does your art background influence your Pilates practice and instruction?

KRISTEN: I strive to see beauty in everything. In working with my clients, I endeavor to find the thing that is moving well and improve from that perspective…how can we strengthen or enhance, find an ease or rhythm of moving and also honor the individual in progress?

I love encouraging my students to meet their goals. I have a motivational teaching style that challenges my students to gain a deeper understanding of the exercises and how that understanding and progress can enhance their overall health and physical condition.

Do Pilates, move well, and then you will most certainly live well.

STUDIO BE: You have an interesting philosophy about life—Live Well. Be Fit. Enjoy Life. Unpack this for us. How does this mantra play out in your teaching and daily life?

KRISTEN: What I love about Pilates is that you really can’t think about anything else when you are doing it. Each exercise demands your full attention and as you grow in experience your mind and body uncover layers of strength and flexibility that blossom into everyday life.

Do Pilates and you will feel good inside and look good on the outside. This overall health will carry over to all aspects of life, allowing you to ENJOY LIFE MORE!

STUDIO BE: In 2010, you moved to Bogota, Colombia, where you worked with the U.S. Embassy. While there, you developed a comprehensive health and wellness series for the embassy community that focused on making exercise a part of daily life. What role did Pilates play in this program, and how did the community receive it.

KRISTEN: Working as a community liaison at the US Embassy allowed me to utilize my corporate and interpersonal skills to help American families integrate to a foreign lifestyle, adapt to the culture and schools, and also find the best shopping spots in town.

But Pilates had changed my life, and it was important to me to bring that element of health and wellness to the many people at the US Embassy. So, with support from colleagues and the Embassy Health Unit, I started a Health and Wellness Initiative that promoted wellness by offering classes every Wednesday and ongoing support throughout the initiative.

I started with Pilates, hosting a “What is Pilates” presentation and beginner Pilates class…all equipped with a Power Point presentation and mats! We then sought the health expertise of those within our community who could introduce a different discipline each week from Yoga to Juijitsu to Cross Fit to TRX and of course Zumba, Colombian Style.

It was fun to bring people together in health and wellness. There was even a virtual walk from Bogota to Cartagena, and each participant received a pedometer to track his or her steps.

The Pilates classes continued on a regular basis, which led to opportunities within the economy and teaching in Spanish. The Embassy celebrated the success and, I believe, the Health and Wellness initiative changed the culture to one that encouraged exercise for all employees working there. What an experience!

And yes, I did have a reformer, tower and chair in our apartment in Bogota! It saved my sanity in the early days.

STUDIO BE: As a Pilates instructor, what are your areas of specialty?

KRISTEN: I am Comprehensively Trained on all Apparatus and have been teaching since 2008. My training was with Dilla Mastrangelo and Harmony Pilates.

I like to think that I can adapt my teaching style to the person in front of me no matter who they are; whether they are a healthy cyclist training for a 100-mile century race in two months or the first-time teenage client challenged with learning to move in a rapidly growing body and how that new sense of self and proprioception changes how they move in space or the VIP client who may be nurturing a knee or hip replacement.

STUDIO BE: What type of client do you enjoy working with?

KRISTEN: I love teaching all types of clients–from beginners to advanced students of Pilates. Clients bring an experience of learning to each Pilates session not only for themselves but for me, too! I learn something from everyone I teach, and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I am privileged and honored to teach Pilates.

STUDIO BE: What else would you like our readers to know about you or Pilates?

KRISTEN: I have two beautiful children, a cycling husband, and a sweet old dog named Louie. I enjoy dancing, travel, cooking, hiking and fashion sewing.

And I am teaching Barre classes now! What a blast! Join me some time for Pilates or Barre.

Live well, BE FIT and Enjoy life!