Freestylin’ with Farida: Lux Pilates and Barre


(photography: Samantha Schneider from lululemon athletica in Harbor East)

Farida Shourbaji begins teaching Lux Barre and Lux Pilates at the studio starting this August. In our latest blog post, we took a moment to get Farida’s take on her craft and learn what students can expect in her classes.

What was one of the most memorable moments you had either as a student of Pilates or as a teacher of it?

I was very young when I became certified and I’m also kind of a space cadet, so I was always struggling during lessons. Even after I understood the concepts of Pilates, I couldn’t get the hang of them with my own body physically. I worked very hard – blood, sweat, and tears . . .

I remember we had a continuing education gathering with a lot of great colleagues of mine – wonderful teachers – and my teacher called on me to demonstrate a very difficult exercise on the Wunda Chair. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to do it, but my teacher would not accept no for an answer. She said “This is your moment. Show them how far you’ve come. You can do it!” She would not let me give up (even though I tried). So I did it. Everyone was shocked, most of all me! I was sweating and huffing and puffing, but so proud!

What are some of the “firsts” that new students to Pilates can expect?

Often when beginning Pilates, it is very normal to feel confused and disoriented, but this eventually goes away as you get to know your own body. Also, for a lot of athletes, you may not sweat or feel “the burn” in the first few lessons. But again, as you get to know your body, the exercises will become more intense.

In the first few lessons, your neck might seemed fatigued. If you experience that, do the exercises with your head down and lift it back up when it feels better. You will get nothing from forcing your head up but an injury! After a few lessons your neck muscles usually strengthen.

In Barre, don’t try and do every rep to start with . . . take breaks!!!! The first lesson or two (or three) can be incredibly intense! It’s far more important to focus on doing the posture correctly than on doing every single rep. With poor posture you will not get the full benefits of the exercises. It’s such a fabulous workout, it may take you by surprise when you feel your muscles burning, shaking, and speaking to you so loudly!

What was your first thought when you saw the reformer machine? From this interviewer’s perspective, my initial thought was ‘Oh my goodness, what is this thing!?’

My first time seeing a reformer, I was excited! I had only seen pictures in books! I was a teenager, and I couldn’t believe my luck that I had found such a wonderful teacher and mentor. I was a pretty difficult student, too. I got the hang of things much slower than 99.9% of my clients seem to. . .

Looking back, I feel sorry for my teacher. I had no idea what she was talking about most of the time, but I loved Pilates and wanted to learn so badly!

What is your advice to Pilates or Barre newbies?

Joseph Pilates said: “In 10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.”

I would say, take at least 10 lessons before you decide whether or not you would like to continue. Trust the instructor and let go . . . see what happens! I have seen Pilates change lives!

Some people might think they need to have good coordination or be really in touch with their bodies or have a dancer’s background to do Barre. Is this true?

My classes are very accessible to dancers and non-dancers. I am no ballerina, and I am the poster child for the uncoordinated. Pilates lets you understand your body and helps you get the most out of Barre, which is why I have replaced the “ab” portion of my Barre classes with Pilates.

Dancers are beautiful and I love watching them (I am a belly dancer myself, and quite passionate about it!), but there is more to being strong and fit then meets the eye! I have taught and known many lovely dancers who had terrible injuries and postural issues. Joseph Pilates was no dancer, and yet dancers sought him out precisely because of their high number of injuries and postural problems.

When you’re not at the studio, you manage a daycare. What’s that like? How do you fit Pilates into your day?

At the daycare, I spend half of my time sitting in the office and the other half visiting rooms and speaking to kids and teachers. When I am not sitting for long periods, I am interacting with and picking up kids – that combination is a KILLER for my back and hips. I have pains in my body that I never knew existed when I was teaching Pilates full time and belly dancing!

Pilates is ESSENTIAL to keeping me injury free and Barre does an incredible job toning my body. Barre and Pilates both take very little time and space to do, so for someone as busy as me they are a quick and easy way to stay fit and healthy!

Do you have a favorite Pilates or Barre move?

My favorite Pilates move is the Teaser! It always has been and always will be! The name says everything!