shiny (for the moment)

Two dancers and a cheerleader (once upon a time) talk about relearning how to move our bodies functionally, and injury free, through pilates. Niccole Porter, my current instructor, explains how pilates is truly for everybody. Every. Body. Courtney Chandler, dance teacher and best friend, joins us in discussing how connecting to our bodies in this way has allowed us to recover from what life has thrown at us-- work, injuries, babies, horses, and beyond.

Niccole Porter

Courtney Chandler

Mari WIndsor
Joseph Pilates

Shiny (ftm) on Instagram and Facebook
Theme music "Gospel of Gold" by Effie Zilch

What is shiny (for the moment)?

Conversations about things that interest me… until they don’t. Because new = shiny ✨
Featuring cool people and unbridled banter.
Dive in. Jump out. Rinse. Repeat.

Erica Alshuler (01:05)
do hope to have her join every time we talk about body movement.

body anything because she spent her whole life in dance from following her mom around, helping her teach dance at the high teacher as leading her very own dance program at the middle school, decades later and four decades. dance is only way of connecting and caring for and listening to your body. And she's very passionate about this. So she never stops learning and sharing all these other ways.

those around her, including her own children and students. why I'm talking about body movement and why Courtney's joining us is because today we are talking about Pilates and we are so lucky to have the incredible Nicole Porter, I just had to update with her new married name, joining us. has become a beacon of joy in my life as...

I spend two out of seven when I don't cancel of my mornings a week with her. That's two out of five of my private time while the kids are at school. So that is a big and you've been instructing me now. I think I was trying to do the math. It's two and a half years. It was the fall, yeah, 2021. understanding is that your background, she doesn't like to be on the all over, plastered all over the internet. So I couldn't do any digging, but from what I've gleaned,

Niccole Porter (02:16)

Erica Alshuler (02:26)
Nicole, background is from everything from the big old gyms like Equinox Pilates for physical therapy a physical therapist's office and everything in between. You're a certified senior Pilates instructor who preaches form above all else, believes in classic Pilates

Niccole Porter (02:40)
That's right.

Erica Alshuler (02:47)
do like to get touchy -feely in the totally appropriate and helpful way. You don't mind the stank and all the things that come with the body. It's all one. Nope. And yes, exactly. You've got to be. You're all up in

Niccole Porter (02:49)
my favorite thing of all, hugs, hugs for all.

Definitely don't, for pheromones are my friend.

Courtney Chandler (03:02)
Thank you.

Erica Alshuler (03:04)
you are responsible for the longest commitment to exercise in my life outside of dance. So this is a huge win. I'm eternally grateful. both of you.

Niccole Porter (03:10)

Erica Alshuler (03:16)
was reflecting, I was initially drawn to Pilates probably 2000s. It was maybe having a moment, but I remember the pitch being is great for dancers. long, lean muscles, quality over quantity, unlike fit or whatever. That was also a craze that I thought was nothing like dance and was totally not intuitive to me or oh my God, crossfit, which was.

your form, get one more rep, murder your body. how I found then candidly, I trick my body. I feel like I'm laying down on my back for half of it on the reformer. So even though I'm working my ass off, it is tricky. And my body goes, oh, I'll lay down. So that is why we're talking about it. It's a big part of my I think something everyone should understand better.

because then we'll get into this. Like there's a lot of versions of it out there that maybe people go, oh, I can't do Pilates and I'm not bendy enough or whatever. So I think there's a lot to dig into here. me first start by letting you correct anything I got wrong, Nicole, or just telling us about you found Pilates and what keeps you in usually when we talk about this, I'm trying to think about a hundred different muscle.

Al, at the same time. So I'm half focused.

Niccole Porter (04:35)
would say that you're pretty on point. I don't like to necessarily knock any other fitness regimens, you know, because all body types are different, all mind types are different, and whatever works for you. It's hard, it's hard. Not to say that I cross fit it every day or bar method or whatever every day, but to some it works and they stick with it just like you found Pilates and you've stayed with it. So if there's something that keeps you going, continue to do it.

Erica Alshuler (04:45)
Okay good, I'll do that.

Yes, whatever works, that's right.

Niccole Porter (05:04)
without injury, hopefully. That's the goal. That's my pretty much number one goal is to stay injury free and to move well functionally. That's what I would say is my absolute biggest goal in Pilates generally. from loving and helping people and being a very to just help people and be a people person. I love, like Erica was saying, hugs, touching.

Erica Alshuler (05:30)

Niccole Porter (05:32)
Ever since I was little Fun fun fact is my mom used to watch soap operas when I was a child and I would love how they were like so Passionate and huggy and kissy with one another and I would always be like I hug and kiss you like that and my sister and my dad too? And she was like absolutely not we are not letting you watch this anymore

Courtney Chandler (05:55)

Niccole Porter (05:57)
And so like from a very young age, I was always wanting to be this close to everybody, face to face, breath on breath, touching, hugging. So to find Pilates and be able to touch and hug and be there to also help people and their bodies move well is the best job that anybody could really have. I got into, yeah, I think so too. And I get to work with cool people like you. I mean,

Erica Alshuler (06:03)


Niccole Porter (06:24)
I've been doing pilates for a while. I mean, nobody has your facial expressions. Let's be real. Let's be real. Your face.

Erica Alshuler (06:25)
can't all be as cool as me, but yeah.

So you're telling me this should be not a podcast, it should be a TV talk show because apparently I look like Jim Carrey in Living Color when he's wearing the pink bikini and being like horsewoman.

Niccole Porter (06:36)
I mean, if...

110 ,000%. Like I have moments in our teachings where I'm like, as in yesterday, I have to take a moment and like turn around and look the opposite direction because I cannot keep my stuff together. So I'm like, okay, collect yourself. Where were we? Let's do this again.

Okay, so to go back to where I found Pilates, kind of similarly to you, you had the dance background. I don't love talking about my cheerleading background, although it was super fun. don't love it because of how injured you can get and how I'm still probably dealing with injuries being a base, which is the person that kind of holds all the ladies above their heads. And I was in a competitive cheerleading, so I was a tumbler, as in, you know,

Erica Alshuler (07:22)
Oh man.

Niccole Porter (07:29)
doing gymnastics. where I kind of really got into just fitness. And part of our workouts were doing mat Pilates Windsor, who sadly passed away recently. But that's how I kind of got the foundational mat work kind of under my repertoire. And that was in, you know, 15, 16, 17 years of age.

Erica Alshuler (07:51)
actually pretty progressive for that cheer group you were in, I would imagine,

Niccole Porter (07:55)
Yeah, yeah. So that's what we did as our warmups. And then we'd go run, which was crazy. I'm like, you run and cheerleading? Like who does that?

And then, right, like I just wanted to wear the cool uniform and yeah, do some pyramids, that's cool, but we call it stunting really if you are a professional cheerleader. so that's how I found Pilates to begin I really knew that I wanted to go into fitness. I thought I was gonna be a athletic trainer, as in the people that are on the field with the athletes.

Erica Alshuler (08:05)
I did not sign up for this.

Niccole Porter (08:26)
or in the gym in the athletic training room, taping them up, icing them, bandaging them, getting them prepped for the game. So I got into that background also in high school. I was in what was called a fitness health and fitness academy that helps you prepare for college. And they give you all these, yeah, it's really

Erica Alshuler (08:42)

Niccole Porter (08:44)
they set you up with a slew of internships and you kind of pick where you'd like to go. So the internship that I got was a place Dr. Fader and Dr. Fry's office. it was all the athletic trainers that went to all the high schools, the local high And they came to this,

one location where all their students could come outside of high school and do rehab. And so I picked my internship there and I was under the two deluge of all of these athletic trainers learning how to tape, ice, learning about the body, like honing in on anatomy and fitness. And it was wonderful. It was a great experience. I got to be right next to orthopedic surgeons. I got to help out with the Kings and the Long Beach Ice Dogs when they were a hockey team. Got to go into their gyms and their...

back rooms and see all of their athletic training stuff. So from that point on, I was pretty much hooked. It is sadly a very male Maybe shifting now, there's a lot more women in sports. So at the time, which would have been in like the 90s, the late 90s, it was all dudes. There was one female athletic trainer. And I remember her vividly, her name was Joy. She was this beautiful,

Erica Alshuler (09:39)
I bet. I bet.


Niccole Porter (09:57)
slender black woman with perfect skin and a cute little Halle Berry cut and a soft voice and she was so sweet and she taught me a ton of stuff and she was always like, just stick with it. We need more women. All that to say I didn't. But I started diving deeper and I thought, okay, I'm gonna go the physical therapy route. So I did my schooling, college, undergrad in

Erica Alshuler (10:16)
Oh man.

Niccole Porter (10:27)
majored in kinesiology with an emphasis in physical therapy and I minored in biology because I'm kind of a science nerd. So I wanted to take the bio maybe to a medical route if I needed to get deeper into like orthopedic surgery because I was kind of thinking of that too. And then I worked in the clinical setting for a bit in hospitals and PT offices, loved it and kind of met up with some OTs, occupational therapists. So PT physical therapist, OT occupational therapist.

And I really started honing in on the occupational therapy side, which was really just learning or relearning really the occupation of life, which was that kind of functionality of life. How to brush your hair again. Yes, yes. How to brush your teeth again. How to put on your clothes. How to get your stride back. It's really just how to get through life on your own without assistance if you'd been through a big medical emergency.

Erica Alshuler (11:09)
Ah, I see the connection you're making here now, yeah.

Niccole Porter (11:25)
And that really, really spoke to me And then I got into graduate school and looked at the bill. I was like, wow, wow, in order to do that, I'll have a doctor.

in front of my name, but I'll also be in tremendous debt. So I opted. Yes, it's really sad.

Erica Alshuler (11:45)
Our system, so sad. I mean, I'm glad it was that you made it to the place where I got to meet you, but that makes me sad.

Niccole Porter (11:52)
I know, I mean, had I not been a grad school dropout, I mean, I got into grad school, was gung ho about being this OT, and then I just got cold feet. I didn't even start my first semester because I just couldn't foot the bill. It was just too overwhelming for me. So I took my happy ass back into hospitality and retail in hotels. I worked in a five -star hotel.

Erica Alshuler (11:55)


Niccole Porter (12:20)
That was a wonderful experience and probably can attribute a lot of don't give a shit how your personality is, vibe, because of that. that to say I can really get along with anybody. I don't want to say I don't give a shit, but I can get along with anybody. There was a lot of crazy things thrown my way, exactly. There's a lot of interesting situations.

Erica Alshuler (12:37)
Yes, your service training. Yes. And I think we've mentioned, yeah, that we have that shared background. I was going a PR route and landed at a hotel doing PR. thing, I'll say mine was the Ritz -Carlton chain. And my levels of service that their way through retail and all those other different leadership and everything, phone etiquette, everything and experiences.

I always attribute back to that. I love that you had that experience too. People always say you need to have retail you know, restaurant waiting, but I think hospitality of any kind fits in. Yeah, throw a hotel in that mix. It's there. Absolutely.

Niccole Porter (13:06)
Big time.

Totally. You have to know what it is to be a customer.

Totally, you have to know what it's like to serve people and to also be served. You need to do both in order to understand. Because every business is a people business. Like let's be real. It's about how well you get along with a person, especially in Pilates. You're spending a lot of time with these people. And to tell someone, let's take an hour out of your day to hang out with me is a big thing. And also pay for it. And not pay a cheap rate, you know, pay a...

Erica Alshuler (13:34)


Niccole Porter (13:47)
penny. So I think it's really relevant for you to be able to get along with folks generally. So all of that, I do attribute to hospitality. Great experience.

Erica Alshuler (13:58)
okay, so couldn't, didn't want to, overwhelmed by the bill. Now you're finding ways to make money and then what brings you back?

Niccole Porter (14:03)
Yes. And then I was like, well, no, hospitality is great, but I can't make myself continue to progress here. I knew that if you dive so deep into hospitality, it becomes your life. It becomes your husband. It becomes your child. And I knew that I wanted to have a family and do other things. And I really wanted to get back to my fitness roots. I was doing absolutely nothing with fitness while I was working at the hotel.

on a huge whim, started researching Pilate schools So I gave my work.

notice and said guys I'm out thank you for everything but I have to go into this full time and it's gonna take you know over 800 hours afternoons evenings and weekends for me to get this certification so I just I resigned.

Erica Alshuler (14:41)

Niccole Porter (14:58)
and then hopped into Pilate School and this was back in 2014.

Erica Alshuler (15:04)
didn't know the details of and training background. but it all makes so much sense now because as I mentioned at the lead with form and information really. I mean, while it can feel overwhelming to some, to me I'm like,

bring it on. I want to know everything of like, what's this muscle called? What is this? You know, and so that's why we're such a great match. And it all this background helps so much. I'm so loving hearing all this. It's so

It's tying a lot of things together and makes a ton of sense. And I'd love to hear Courtney give you a chance to connect your own Pilates and everything you just heard from Nicole. I'm sure you got very excited and wish you lived near me and could take class from her, but you don't, come visit.

Courtney Chandler (15:48)
I know, in our summer trip, I'll definitely be in your class Nicole.

Niccole Porter (15:51)
I love it whenever you can.

Erica Alshuler (15:51)
Okay, good. Well, plan ahead. A duet. So Courtney, connect the dots for us and tell us, I'm sure, all the things you were just thinking while you heard Nicole talking and any parallels and relevant info.

Courtney Chandler (16:04)
Yeah, I will definitely tell my connection to Pilates, but Nicole, the things that stood out that like wove together for me that I think were so amazing with the meandering path that you took to get where you are. Each piece was such an important building block to where you are. And I think it's so easy to look at someone's career and be like, oh, you're a Pilates instructor. That's what you've done. But you are an amazingly talented Pilates instructor because of all these pieces that you carry with you.

Niccole Porter (16:33)
Big time, thank you. Thank you for putting it probably better than I

Courtney Chandler (16:37)
so like Erica, I was a dancer and I rode growing up and my mom became a certified Pilates instructor, like Matt Pilates so she had gotten certified. And so I feel like back in the nineties was when I first heard of Pilates and started doing Pilates and my mom was a big proponent of.

functional movement and keeping yourself healthy for a long time, keeping yourself functional for a long time and healthy movement patterns. in college it wasn't a huge part of my dance career, unfortunately, but then I re -found it when I moved to San Francisco and there was a Pilates studio that was down the street from me. And it became such a cornerstone of me teaching dance because I realized I was,

demonstrating things on one side or warming up and then stopping to help a student or teaching this combo and doing it a million times, but I was getting really unbalanced. And so Pilates was that space where I could go just for me and work at a slightly slower pace than the frenetic teaching of middle school dancers. And make sure that I was balancing myself out and keeping myself safe and healthy. And what was interesting for me as I went through that journey,

and I think it speaks so much to what you're talking about, Nicole, was a teacher at the time who had done some occupational therapy talk a lot about like, okay, we're doing this and you're gonna go home from this ploddy studio and get groceries and walk up a flight of stairs your groceries with you. This is what you need to be thinking about. These are the foundations you need to do that. This is what you need to load your kid into the car.

And it was the first time I think that I started to, and you know, one, I wasn't a teenager anymore, but two, started to look at movement in a much more functional way. And it was less about like, okay, I need to be able to be safe and healthy to do my job. And more like one day I want to be able to do X. So what do I need to be doing now to make sure that I have the foundation to go there? now my connection to a lot of

movement and exercise has become that evolution of the conversation for me of in my 90s, if I want to run around with my grandchildren, okay, what do I need to be able to do now to set myself up for and Erica, I feel like we're similar in so I've recently started going to PT for some like core back situations connected to pelvic floor.

Erica Alshuler (19:05)
Mm -hmm.

And Koldo's all about that.

Courtney Chandler (19:09)
Yeah, and one of the things that like I am reminded of is the importance of touch. Like I do a great job staying disciplined about, I love movement. It's an important part of my like well -being and self. And I do a lot of it on my own because I've got three kids and I'm juggling schedules and stuff. And there's something really important about someone physically touching you and being like, you think you're engaging, you're right oblique, but in fact,

you're like very hypermobile and all these other muscle groups have just kicked in. So even as someone relatively aware of my body, the importance of someone to guide you through it and to touch those things into like what you were saying, Erica, name all the little I am in awe of what you do,

Niccole Porter (19:55)
I mean, I wish that I could have been a dancer so I could have that difference in body awareness for myself. Because I think with dancers comes a ton of body awareness centering and balance as well, which is huge and so relevant to injury prevention. like you say, hypermobility comes a lot with dance as well. And a toughness is...

I'm just going to cruise through this and make it look good. You know? So I think that's a really, a really hard bit. kind of bite down on that mouthpiece and let's go, you know? So, um.

Erica Alshuler (20:25)

When you add in the performance element of anything, that's where, yeah, and we were still working on my hamstring injury from college. It flares up because I had to go on stage. What are you going to do? You pull a hammy, you got to go on a stage anyways.

Niccole Porter (20:43)
Right, right.

It totally, totally, or even like you were saying, Erika, in the class setting, sometimes we're just getting too competitive with oneself because there's four other ladies in the class and it's not about doing better than they can, but it's about also keeping up and knowing in your own mind that you can keep up. So might push it a bit and then realize, oh, I wasn't doing things within range of motion for my own body that I should have been doing or being mindful about how I should be moving my body in that particular series of exercises.

So just creating that awareness is super relevant to me as well, that you're able now to just be like, let me take a step back. Is there something else I can do here or is there a stretch and I don't do this and I omit it completely than I can do? Or feeling this and you're talking about feeling this, what should I do to change it so that I can now feel, my glute instead

Erica Alshuler (21:25)
Mm -hmm.

Niccole Porter (21:43)
That's so important to be able to kind of distinguish between the two.

Erica Alshuler (21:49)
And it feels like a shift for me personally in this phase of life. Maybe it's age where, you know, people are like in my forties, I don't give any fucks or whatever, pardon the language. But like, you know, maybe it's that, but maybe it's these -awareness exercises that I've been focused journey that I've been on that I'm talking about in this whole podcast that now has flipped me to the other side of the pendulum almost so far that...

Courtney Chandler (21:49)

Erica Alshuler (22:16)
I look over and see someone going fast and I immediately, my judgy part of me kicks in and goes like, they're not doing it right. If they're going that fast, they're not doing it right. Maybe they are, maybe they're rock stars, but I'm like slow. You know, that first time I came into class, I can do leg circles and kick the people on the sides of me, or I can keep them

to get the right form and keep hip stability and all that stuff. And I'm not afraid to step back if I figure out I'm doing something wrong. And I think there's something interesting about, we can say some of its age, but being connected to your body spatially, balance -wise, because A, it was not a focus enough in our youth, I don't think. that's why your story was so compelling. Like the...

things you had access to and the kind of progressive thinkers that led you, Nicole, in your early days and Courtney, you having your mom, it's so hard to understand the importance of that when your body's in its prime and you're young and you're just like, I'm invincible, everything's great. I am certain, despite the wonderful teaching of your mom and many others in my life, that I...

wasn't balancing I think I had my pelvic floor dysfunction far before I had children. love that it's at the forefront of society now, to an extent, or at least in the fitness world. feels like it, maybe it's just our circle. I'm curious if you guys think this has been, is it just in this little bubble that we live in, or is this something that people are becoming more aware of?

Niccole Porter (23:40)
I think a little bit of A, a little bit of B, you know? I think there's still gonna be that kind of naivety those that want to do fitness vanity, you know, let's be shredded, great. Like if you want your body to look great, naked, I love it. More power to you, you know, that's super good. You want your clothes to fit real nice and have, you know, boom, boom, bam.

Erica Alshuler (23:49)
Mm -hmm.

Courtney Chandler (23:49)

Niccole Porter (24:03)
That's great. I love that. But to me, that's less relevant in the way that I teach about being shredded, about being six packed and all this and the image that you see in front of you. It's more about moving well, connecting your mind to your body and being able to speak to your point, Courtney, about things that you can do in your seventies, eighties, nineties and beyond yourself.

you know, without assistance, without a cane or without a crutch or having any.

Erica Alshuler (24:36)
Cause that cane's gonna ruin your good looking outfit if all you cared about was your body.

Niccole Porter (24:41)
I mean, unless you bling it out or something, I don't know.

Erica Alshuler (24:44)
Ooh, maybe.

Courtney Chandler (24:44)
Like the mind body connection is so huge in the conversation and it's I think everybody has their own entry point to that right for me It's been this interesting unlearning kind of like you were talking about Erica like okay, how do I? pun intended dance this delicate line for myself of When do you think you like when do I push myself to go to like that next?

Erica Alshuler (25:06)
Well done, well done.

Courtney Chandler (25:13)
level and that is so ingrained in me to push myself to that like when do I listen and pull back and when am I actually mind to body to like as cheesy as it sounds to like spirit, right? It's like all those things connected when am I actually in alignment with all of those things? Because it's interesting in my PT sessions, she's like the harder the move, the better your form and function is.

the easier it is, is when I actually fall apart. When it's the like everyday movement, that's where I struggle. But like when you say turn it on, I can turn it on and I can do it with like the best form that I know have, right? So for me it's that.

Erica Alshuler (25:52)
Ah, so that wasn't the general you. She was like reporting on your body, watching what you do. Yeah, so you.

Courtney Chandler (25:57)
For me, if I go into a plank, let's say, I can engage my core properly. I use my back, I use everything. I can use my glutes. I use all the things. If you have me like laid down, yes. But if I'm like laying down and just like go to lift my torso, things fall apart, right? Like it's like a more simple movement because I'm so used to powering through. But I think that like mind -body connection is what

Erica Alshuler (26:08)
I love the phrase recruiting muscles, by the way. You recruit all the right muscles. I love that. Go ahead.

Courtney Chandler (26:26)
No matter where we enter from, it all comes back to, right?

Erica Alshuler (26:29)
Yeah, previously you were either on or off and now you're figuring out how to be on with the mind -body connection all the time and make it natural, like breathing.

Niccole Porter (26:30)

Courtney Chandler (26:32)

Exactly. How do I move at 30 % and like have that connection? Like a 30 % connection.

Niccole Porter (26:42)
I mean, that's kind of the idea with Pilates too, is starting from I don't want to say the bottom, but really think that Joseph Pilates watched babies. If you look at a child innately, they start by laying on their back. And that's how we start in Pilates. We lay on our back. We work on moving our limbs to what strength in our core, because our core is what centers us.

We learn maybe not so much how to breathe properly as an infant, but through infancy, a lot of our breath is through very small nasal passages and yes, through our mouths, but breathing through your nose is so, so relevant. And that's a whole nother conversation, but breathing well.

Erica Alshuler (27:25)
Right, we will have a breath work conversation here soon. Okay, good.

Niccole Porter (27:28)
is so, so relevant. Breath is important in engaging your muscles as probably both of you have learned in PT. Like that exhalation is hyper relevant into engaging your low abs, your transverse abdominis, finding that lift or that relaxation in your pelvic floor. So going back to the baby thing, then you progress, right? To tummy time or being on your belly. We call being on your back supine, being on your stomach.

prone if you're trying to be super technical. We were talking about anatomy moves or anatomy language, right? So now you're, now you're prone as a baby. And this is swimming in Pilates, moving your legs, moving your arms, strengthening now while laying on your belly. And then what do you do? You begin to pick up your knees. You begin to swan, lift your chest to strengthen your back, the backs of your arms. Then you get to kneeling on quadruped position. That's our next progression.

Erica Alshuler (28:02)
Love it.

Niccole Porter (28:25)
then you get to sitting, then you get to kneeling, then you get to standing and then you get to walking. So all of these things you already do to progress your way through Pilates. So the love of being on your back, I 100 % understand because it takes you back innately to being a child and learning, relearning really, how to properly move your body from a functional standpoint. And we take you in Pilates.

Erica Alshuler (28:37)

Niccole Porter (28:51)
And maybe not all Pilates instructors, because they're like you were saying, are a ton of different forms. The classical method to me is regaining that functional movement from just birth until, you know, you're walking and upright. Not to not contemporary Pilates at all. It's just a different practice that came a bit later. And it has wonderful things to add to the classical practice. I...

learn classically, but I don't teach only classical method. I've spliced in tons of contemporary teachings, especially things that I didn't even learn necessarily in Pilate certification that I've picked up along the way through PT, OT, and PT clinics from wonderful professionals and doctors that have been like, let's do this or let's try this instead for this body. The big thing is,

Every body is different, every person, yes, but every body that you see is very different. And you need to learn how to teach the body in front of you and recognize what that body needs, which in classical methods sometimes is not that very specific order of the exercises that you're supposed to teach and do. So to have those contemporary splicings or have those breakdowns is so relevant so that you can.

then teach the person that's right in front of you rather than, I'm just a Pilates teacher and I have this program in my head and if you can't do it ya. You know, and I think that's what gets people in that mindset sometimes like, well Pilates isn't for me like you were saying. I'm not Gumby. I know that's an old school reference. I'm not super flexible. I can't do it or no abs. There's no way I can do it. I have no balance. But it's like, this is precisely the reason why you should go.

Erica Alshuler (30:15)
Mm -hmm.

Mm -hmm.

Yes, exactly.

Courtney Chandler (30:38)
Thank you.

Niccole Porter (30:38)
You know, this is why it's good for everybody. I have a 12 year old client right now. That's my youngest. And my oldest client turning 80. She'll be 80 next year. And there's a woman that I taught for a long time who is 86 who had a broken back and

Erica Alshuler (30:57)
I was going to ask you to tell this story because she was in class with me when I started and I can't tell it said they couldn't have done her surgery she hadn't had the years of Pilates to support the muscles all around her back. They never would the surgery at her age, right?

Niccole Porter (31:00)

Yes, she, well, I can't attribute myself to teaching her only. She was actually gifted to me from another teacher that had been at the studio and still is before had the pleasure of being able to take over her classes. So I came into her classes, which was all women over 65. And it was five ladies that were all the same women that had been with this, this same teacher.

Courtney Chandler (31:12)

Erica Alshuler (31:16)
But yeah.

Niccole Porter (31:34)
and this woman specifically had come into class one day and said, oh, you know, my back is not feeling well. And I said, okay, well, let's see what we can do. She sat down on the reformer very gingerly and then laid down on the reformer also very carefully and meticulously. And I said, push away from the bar see how you're feeling. Put your toes on and let's go for a normal footwork, we call it.

She pushes away a few times. We do the whole series of footwork. We manage to get her feet also in the straps to do the feet and straps series. And then when it's time to get up and off of the reformer, she couldn't move. And so two of us are on arm and arm picking her up, getting into her sideline position. So we roll her to the side. We pick her up to side seated position. And then we also had to pick her up to get her onto her feet and help her walk outside. I said, from that point, you need to go to the doctor.

Like it's time for you to go get some imagery of this, have them do manual testing of this. We need to get this checked out because it seems like it's been going on for too long and this is the worst I've ever seen you move really. And turns out that she had multiple vertebrae in her back that were broken. And the doctor said, so phenomenal that you've been doing Pilates for two decades because the musculature around your spine, your pelvis, your hips and your glutes,

Erica Alshuler (32:44)

Niccole Porter (33:00)
who are what was literally holding your spine together. And had you not been doing that, yes, it would have been a way worse situation and we probably would have had to do more surgery. She's had multiple surgeries. She's had rods placed in her back. had the rods in her back and came to Pilates again, walking on a cane. lose the cane, get on the reformer, the Cadillac, do her sessions. And then she had the rods removed from her back.

Courtney Chandler (33:04)

Erica Alshuler (33:05)
Holy moly, yeah.

Niccole Porter (33:27)
But all this to say that she's back in the studio with everything removed, still walking, sometimes without her cane and still doing Pilates. She's not doing classes anymore because it's just not recommended for her to try to keep pace.

Erica Alshuler (33:32)


Niccole Porter (33:43)
wonderful to see something like that. That is the reason that I am in this business is for precisely situations like that. And some people would be sounds like a...

Erica Alshuler (33:43)
incredible story.

Niccole Porter (33:55)
a fucking nightmare. You know, like, I don't even know, like, I don't even know what to do with that. Or like, you know, you might panic in that situation. But in the sense, for me of wanting to help folks that kind of like invigorates me and brings me to life in a sense, my problem solving side comes in, what can we do? Let's do this. Let's, let's get you to where we need to go, you know, and so I just, I'm

Erica Alshuler (34:16)

Niccole Porter (34:21)
All that to say is that Pilates is great in the sense of just helping people and that's all that I want to do is just help as many people as I can.

Erica Alshuler (34:27)
Well, and that's how it was my friend who did the leg work to find you. And she had just had a baby and was like, I was an athlete. I need to get in functional shape after having this baby so that I can lead the life I was used to. And first off, you're blowing my mind, Nicole.

stepping back a tiny bit with this. No, you do. but I have not made that baby connection. And my mind was just like, you can't see me, but exploding on the screen while you were explaining that because duh, exactly what he's doing. we kind of, cause there's so many beautiful conclusions here. I was going to ask about, for the person listening to this,

Niccole Porter (34:46)
I feel like I talk so much. I'm like, how do you not know this? I tell you everything.

Courtney Chandler (34:49)
I totally love it.

Erica Alshuler (35:10)
and they can't see you, Nicole, what do they look for? What questions do they ask? Now, listen to this podcast. And if you are talking to a Pilates instructor and they aren't talking about these things you're talking about, or they're pushing your answer. But I did want to, you know, if there's some tip you give people, if there's anything to send them in the right direction, what would that be? Or from either of you.

Niccole Porter (35:31)
Take an introductory session, go into the studio. I understand the internet is a wonderful thing and you can see cool things online. Take your little butt into the space, get out your house, get in your car, take a walk, go to the studio, physically look at it, talk to the person face to face. First thing, because you won't know if you like the space or the person until you physically go there. Do that and then take an introductory session one on one.

Erica Alshuler (35:39)

Niccole Porter (36:00)
Don't pop yourself into a burner hit Pilates class. no problems if that's what you want to do. Go for it. But I think it's right. I think it's best. Go to the studio, meet the person, set up an introductory session, take one private session at a minimum and see what their style is like in stylistically, personality wise. If everything mess meshes, then you'll know right off the bat.

Erica Alshuler (36:08)
Just don't, maybe don't start there.

Niccole Porter (36:27)
I think that's the best way to see if Pilates is good for you. I think a lot of people start like in gym setting and they go to a mat class and they're like, oh, this, like, I can't do this. Like, she wanted me to hold my legs up and my head up and do all this and playing for 35 minutes and all this and this. And they feel just defeated. And I don't love that. I don't want people to feel defeated because they can't do. Maybe they just didn't have someone to break it down or offer.

Erica Alshuler (36:39)
Yeah, and then they've written it off as a whole.

Niccole Porter (36:55)
every variation that there is. And maybe with that one person that you try, it didn't work. Try another. If you're really trying to get into it. I have a person who had Pilates on his bucket list. Yes. And he had gone to multiple studios and was like, uh -uh, uh -uh, uh -uh, I'm not doing this. And he walked into our studio during the pandemic. We were masking, we were distancing, and we were not touching. you know how hard that is for me. So he came in and we did our sessions in masks.

Erica Alshuler (37:04)
It's like therapy, same way.

I cannot imagine.

Niccole Porter (37:25)
staying away from each other and he's been with me now for almost as long as you. And he's like, best thing I could have ever done, even though I had bad experiences going to other places. So I think definitely the one -on -one thing, try out the studio, look at the studio, see what equipment they have, get the vibes. I think vibes are very important. think

Erica Alshuler (37:35)
Yep, don't give up.

Courtney Chandler (37:47)
much of what there's something you said a little bit ago, Nicole, that I feel like will shift how look for someone in a workout space is you said that you have to be able to teach to the body, that it's like, you're not just, you don't just have a class plan, but like you have to teach because everybody's going to walk in with a different body and you have to teach to the

Niccole Porter (38:01)

Courtney Chandler (38:07)
and then to your point, Erica, about the mind blowing, sorry, I'm not good at describing what I'm doing. Thank you. And then, yes.

Erica Alshuler (38:08)
She's making mind blowing behaviors and gestures, yes. I'm the narrator.

Niccole Porter (38:14)
And a body can change every day too, like the same body that you're working with. I could have this mega plan for Erica, like I did yesterday. I had the chair out there. It's like, yeah, we're gonna hit it. Put her on the chair for about seven minutes and was like, we're going to the Cadillac.

Erica Alshuler (38:25)
Oh god.


Courtney Chandler (38:33)
Yeah, but I think that's so important. And then like your connection, I also was mind blown, like you, Erica, the connection of Joseph Pilates and babies and how they move. And it's just listening to your narrative of like athletic training and cheerleading into PT, into OT, into hospitality and how you've weaved all these pieces together to be able to make that connection of Pilates and and how, when you work with each.

Niccole Porter (38:34)

Courtney Chandler (39:02)
individual body, you're really creating a neuromuscular change and you're helping your clients get back to the movement patterns they had as kids before all the stuff of life, the wrong type of shoes, carrying the backpack, sitting in the chair, driving places, know, injuries, whatever started to take a toll. Yeah. Yeah.

Niccole Porter (39:19)

Right? The dancer, the cheerleader. Right?

Erica Alshuler (39:24)
Yep. The horseback rider, gosh, Courtney, that has its own.

Courtney Chandler (39:28)
Yeah, I got some brutal hips over here, but, uh, but I think that like neuromuscular connection creating like now new pathways, but really are just like going back to the foundation pathways that like were there all along.

Niccole Porter (39:40)
There. Right. For sure.

Erica Alshuler (39:44)
I love how this worked out. I knew bringing you two wonderful people together would work out. I know the world wants to hear from both of you. Thank you both so much for sharing your story. This has been awesome. I have a feeling we're gonna have to get the three of us together again to talk about more, because we could keep going on lots of things. Something I always highlight with Courtney is that,

time in life that she focused on for young women for a long time, that middle school age when you're learning about your new changing body and those transition periods. And then again, transitions now, perimenopause my age, you know, like there's something really interesting to talk about how we care for our body in those times. now, we're going to call it a day and say thank you so much to both of you. I will, as always,

include as much information as I can about you two, which won't be much for Nicole. Again, which is fine. Actually, Courtney, for you either, you're both pretty

Niccole Porter (40:40)
That's okay. That's okay.