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Exploring Life & Business with Cicely Nelson of Atwater Pilates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cicely Nelson.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My formal movement career began at four when I entered my first dance class. I attended ballet school in Canada before a career as a ballet dancer in Europe, before focusing on music and pre-med in college. The somatic challenges of beginning violin at a later-than-usual age prompted me to further develop several aspects of my teenage movement practice; the alignment principles of Pilates, the calming current of Yoga, and the call to mindfulness that is meditation. In deepening these practices, I caught up my musical development in record time and began to pass on these empowering lessons to students after certifying as both a Pilates and Yoga Instructor. I’ve been fortunate to study with and teach alongside many great teacher trainers, physical therapists, Pilates elders, and movement pioneers via teaching, continuing education and certifications, and throughout my tenure as Director of Erika Bloom Pilates Los Angeles and head of teacher training for Erika Bloom Pilates New York. Chief among them were Erika Bloom, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Marie José Blom, Karen Weggler, Susanne Michaud (head of physical therapy, University of Washington), and Kuan Hui Chew. My career (and propensity for wanderlust) has lead me from premier studios in New York City and Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, to a renowned physiotherapy practice in Vancouver, Canada, to a modest yoga studio in Andalusia, Spain, to a wellness resort in Turks and Caicos. I’ve worked with clients from every walk of life, finding that all of us (from thirty-something weekend warriors to professional athletes to aging humans) share a common thread; this need to connect the mind and the body to live a healthier, happier, more mind body! ful life. I’m so thrilled to finally have my own little body shop in Atwater Village where I teach classically-inspired Private Pilates sessions through a physical therapy lens. My passion is helping everyone I work with to feel better in their bodies – and thus their lives!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Definitely not! As I said, I have a serious case of wanderlust and that has competed with my desire to set up my own shop for many years. And starting one’s own business is not for the faint of heart! Lots of detail work, persistence, and saving up was needed! That said, the business of pilates itself has always been a sheer pleasure. It is an honor and privilege to receive clients’ stories and histories and to be entrusted with their healing. And continuing education has enriched my life in countless ways – from somatic awareness to osteopathic remedies to awareness of neurological issues and care to keeping up to date about cueing and best practices in general. This profession necessitates one being a lifelong learner and that is my happy place!

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
What I offer at Atwater Pilates is different from a lot of studios because it is completely customized to your body, your goals, your history. As a practitioner, I bring my twenty years of experience in Pilates and a plethora of related modalities (somatic experiencing, trauma-informed movement practice, yoga, Thai massage, ecstatic dance/5rhythms) and a lifetime in the movement arts. Pilates is an indispensable part of my own daily routine and I can’t – and won’t – imagine a life without it. I can’t wait to share with clients the joy, mobility, and power that are their birthright.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Competently subjective! For me personally, it is having the time in a day to do all of the things that are important to me (movement, teaching, music, education/intellectual stimulation, and family time) with joy and ease.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Clifford William

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