E’ville Biz: East Bay Pilates – All Bodies Welcome!

4 mins read

“E’ville Biz” is an ongoing series spotlighting our thriving small business community.

They look like they’re flying, these East Bay Pilates clients – as Krisna Hanks, one of the co-founders of EBP coaches them through an impressive escape from gravity.

It looks like fun. And it is.

East Bay Pilates is an Amazing Place

The first thing you’ll notice when you visit the studio is the vibe – it’s calming and energizing all at the same time.
Next you’ll notice an assortment of intriguing equipment – Pilates “machines” with cool hipster names like the Cadillac, the Reformer, the Wunda Chair.

The gadget factor alone makes me want to hang out.

Krisna and her partner and co-founder Robert Surenbroek opened their studio in Emeryville in 2005 and re-opened it after a brief absence earlier this year. East Bay Pilates offers classical Pilates: the same exercises taught in the same order as prescribed by Pilates method creator Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967). Not only is there a flow to the exercises, there’s a flow in terms of how your skills progress. Pilates instructors like Krisna and Robert are trained to look for key milestones as you learn to move from your core and get closer to the point where, as Pilates elder Jay Grimes put it, “you become Pilates” and use it to benefit your every day life.

Why Pilates?

Subtle and refined, the Pilates method is still a full-body exercise regimen capable of giving you a rigorous workout that produces results as long as you show up and put in the effort versus just going through the motions. Same as life, right?
Pilates trains you to look for different things in your body than you would for example if you were running five miles or heaving a kettle bell: it’s more of a look from the inside out.

And it works. After not too many sessions I notice I’m standing up straighter, that my stomach is pulled in without the usual sucking and drama and that I even walk with more swag. And the sacrum injury I got doing an exercise routine not-to-be-named seems to have evaporated.

I like it.

And here’s something else I like. It’s a culture shift away from our obsession with extreme sports. ES is great for athletes but sometimes not so much for us mere mortals who might try an extreme sport only to find ourselves injured. Isn’t the general idea of working out to be fit and not hurt?


Enter Pilates.

Like I said, it isn’t necessarily easy. There isn’t a session I don’t break a sweat. You do Pilates for 45 minutes to an hour and you will be fatigued. But 20 minutes later you’ll feel energized. And it’s ageless: I can do it now and I can do it when I’m 80. Which is exactly what Joseph Pilates figured out. How to get mind-blowingly fit but still have energy left over for your family, friends and to enjoy life. Yay!


OK you say, but what’s in it for me?

Quite a bit if you talk to some of the folk who frequent East Bay Pilates. For example K., who really never found any exercise or sport that she liked until she turned 65 and found EBP. She’s 70 now and does Pilates twice a week along with walking. K. says that not only did Pilates change her life, but that she’s in the best shape of her life. She says that Krisna and Robert mix it up: each session is a totally different experience with new challenges and she never gets bored.

“Variety, interest and constant growth” is what keeps her coming back. And K. adds, “she will never not do Pilates.”

And not just any Pilates: its East Bay Pilates with the unique talents and deep experience Krisna and Robert bring to the table.

Another long-time student and Emeryville resident describes East Bay Pilates as “a positive force in her life. They [Krisna and Robert] really show up for me. I have their full attention – they aren’t just counting the reps when I’m there.” M. gives them impressive kudos, calls them “inspirational” and talks about how they played a big role in “bringing her back to health”.

Inspirational indeed.

Doing Good in E’ville

I’ve also known Krisna and Robert since 2005 and I’d say that “inspirational” is a fair characterization of them. Personally I’d add “involved” and “committed”. Krisna serves on Emeryville’s Economic Development and Senior Center committees. She and Robert are at E’ville’s good neighbor Pixar three days a week. They also host a free speakers series in their studio to share info about exercise, food, stress relief. Health stuff.

“We’re here for the long haul,” Krisna says. She and Robert want to create a community that supports wellness.

When They Say “All Bodies Are Welcome” They Mean It

Look on the East Bay Pilates website and you will see that both Krisna and Robert sport an impressive collection of degrees and credentials. Look at them and you will see what it means to truly walk your talk.

East Bay Pilates has a variety of lesson types to make Pilates affordable to any size pocketbook. And their approach will be tailored to fit you no matter if you are young, old, in shape, not so much – they will start wherever you happen to be.
My last word is on why you can’t afford not to do this. Your body is your investment, right? You’re going to need it to schlep around Planet Earth (hopefully) for a good long time. Investing in yourself and spending some money on something that helps you take care of yourself, like Pilates does – is money well spent.

And you get to fly. It doesn’t get any better than that.


East Bay Pilates
1522 Park Avenue
Emeryville, CA
(510) 653-8538
M-F: 8am – 8pm
Sat: 8am – 12pm
Sun: Closed

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J.R. Hampton

Fiction writer and cat aficionado discovered Emeryville in the ’90s, loved it and stayed. Her most recent thriller, "Eidolon" (working title) is out to agents and she's begun work on the second book in the series. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter.

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