Ahmé Bovée: Instructor of the Month


More than likely, if you have taken a Pilates class at Pilates in East in Grand Rapids area, you have heard the name, Ahmé Bovée. And if you have ever had the chance to take one of Ahmé’s classes, you know why the students she teaches get hooked immediately on Pilates. Her calming, soothing voice is perfectly contradictory to the intense and effective workouts she composes for her students and clients. Ahmé has the ability to fine-tune an exercise through the use of descriptive words, attention to the fine details and an acute awareness of her clients’ movements.

Ahmé attended her first Pilates class with her mother, who is a Naturopathic Doctor that has always been ahead of her time. Because of the instructor’s transformative words and descriptors used in that private session, Ahmé fell quickly in love with the workout! Ahmé went on to get her original (the first of many) certification from Body Harmonics in Toronto Canada. She credits her two original mentors, Susan Greskevitch and Margot McKinnon, as individuals who were exceptional teachers.

Pilates is often credited as a Mind-Body activity and Ahmé agrees with this description. “Pilates helps me find my center not only physically, but mentally too. It is a form of moving meditation that brings me into sync with my physical being. Physically it makes me feel strong and integrated from head to toe but without making me feel strain or stress. Mentally and physically I feel empowered,” states Ahmé.

Along with starting and running two thriving Pilates studios over the past two decades, she is a Balanced Body University Master Instructor and offers comprehensive teaching training at Pilates in East. Those who have had Ahmé as an instructor for Teacher Training can’t help but be affected positively by Ahmé’s passion for Pilates, movement, anatomy and helping others live the healthiest life possible.

One of the many aspects of being an instructor that Ahmé loves is witnessing the moment someone has an “ah-ha.” When she gets to see the joy and excitement in a client’s eyes, when movement feels good again and her clients tap into their true strength, power and freedom – this is what keeps Ahmé going as an instructor.

Prior to becoming trained as a Pilates instructor, Ahmé taught aerobics at the YMCA, although she says that “hamstring curls, step aerobics and boxercise are a distant memory these days.”

When Ahmé isn’t busy handling both the teaching and the business side of the studio, you can find her running on the local nature trails with her dog, Thomas, a regal miniature schnauzer.

Ahmé offers some advice to someone who is considering trying out a Pilates or a Barre class.

  • Find an instructor you really love and connect to. Everyone likes a different style and that’s ok. Find someone who makes you feel comfortable, curious and inspired.
  • Give it some time, the detail sometimes takes a while to sink in.
  • Be open minded and curious. Don’t assume you already know a certain move just because you have done it before. Pilates is about going deeper and discovering new hidden potential.
  • Try a Private lesson. Even if you want to take group classes most of the time a few private sessions with one of our expert instructors could unleash a new discovery that changes how you do things in class and in life for years to come.

We can’t wait to have you experience one of Ahmé’s classes. Check out her teaching schedule here.


Jen Shaw: March’s Instructor of the Month at Pilates in East

Jen roll back M

If you have been to the studio at Pilates in East, you have most likely seen Jen Shaw coming, going or teaching either a group class or a private session. Her warm and infectious personality is hard to miss.

After two C-sections, several knee surgeries and years of physical therapy, Jen sought out a way to rebuild her core and overall body strength in a safe way. As fate would have it, she saw a commercial for Windsor Pilates in 2006 and decided to try a class. After trying a class and loving it, Jen became an instructor and has been teaching ever since at local studios and gyms. Jen received her Comprehensive Certification from Balanced Body University and instruction from Ahmé Bovée.

If you have taken a class from Jen, you wouldn’t be surprised that her favorite part of being an instructor is the opportunity to connect with her clients. “I enjoy getting to know peoples’ stories, meeting them right where they are in their journey and then empowering them to fulfill their personal next steps. I love seeing the confidence that blossoms with developing physical and mental strength that grows into a strong, healthy, balanced mind and body connection.”

One of the many reasons that Jen personally fell in love with Pilates is the ability to develop balanced strength and flexibility to help avoid injury. As someone who participated in collegiate athletics and someone who has coached all levels of basketball and soccer over the past 20 years, this has been very important. Jen credits her own practice in Pilates as one of the main factors that has allowed her to stay active over the years, continue coaching and to keep up with her children. When not in the studio, Jen loves being outside – camping, hiking and biking.

Jen’s advice to someone new to Pilates: “Take a couple of private sessions so you can learn some techniques and terminology.  The instructor can also give you some very personal tips and guide you to your next steps.”

Great advice for someone getting ready to dive into a new and life-changing activity.


Exercise of the Month: Standing Side Splits

standingsidesplitsSTANDING SIDE SPLITS

When I first learned of this exercise years ago, I was immediately met with resistance in my own thought. “Splits… I haven’t been able to do that since I was little! Cross this exercise off the list for me.” However, I soon learned that it is not as intimidating as it might sound. If you have been to a reformer class or had any private instruction, it is likely that you have given this exercise a whirl, as it is an incredibly effective exercise.

How to do Standing Side Splits:

  • Stand on the reformer facing one side (Use caution when getting on. Always step onto the platform before the carriage since the carriage will move).
  • Place one foot on the platform and one on the carriage. (The closer to the shoulder blocks your foot is, the more challenging the exercise will be).
  • Find a neutral spine and pelvis.
  • Reach arms out to sides thinking length – palms down or facing forward.
  • Maintaining neutral pelvis and spine and keeping weight evenly distributed on both feet, press legs evenly away from midline to move the carriage out.
  • Draw the legs back together by bringing the carriage back to the platform using control.


  • Strengthen leg and hip muscles
  • Improve posture, balance and coordination
  • Improve core stability as well as lumbopelvic stability
  • Strengthens adductors


  • Some variations would be the placement of the feet (i.e. try a wider stance and external rotation of the feet).
  • For added arm workout, grab some light hand weights and get the arms involved.
  • When bringing the carriage in, think about lifting up through the pelvic floor and abdominals rather than just bringing you legs back to the starting position.
  • If your foot on the carriage is slipping, use grippy socks (sold at Pilates in East) or add a sticky pad to the carriage before placing your foot in place.


  • Anyone with sacroiliac joint problems or knee injuries should use caution – limiting range of motion.
  • Anyone with balance problems should use caution (always let your instructor know if you aren’t feeling comfortable) since this is a standing exercise on the reformer.
  • Prenatal clients perform with caution.

One of the great features of the reformer is that, with a simple change in spring weight, you can work a different muscle performing almost exercise. Standing side splits is a great example of such benefit. When adding springs, the resistance is greater and the focus shifts to the abductors. Depending on the resistance, it will be helpful to move the foot on the carriage closer to the edge in order to have something to push off of.

We look forward to having you into the studio to give this exercise a try! See you soon at Pilates in East!

**For current class schedule at Pilates in East, click here

***As with all exercises programs, please consult with your physician and know your limitations prior to starting a new workout regimen.***

Meet Amy: February’s Instructor of the Month


Pilates in East Instructor, Amy

We would like to take a quick minute to introduce one of our stellar instructors, Amy Donohue.

Amy has been teaching at Pilates in East for 4 years and has been a client since 2007. She discovered Pilates in East through an ad in the paper. Starting as a client, she never expected that she would someday be teaching!

Amy and her husband Dennis have four college-aged children. They enjoy spending time as a family and keeping active.  When not teaching at the studio, she enjoys many activities such as cooking, reading, running, kayaking, sailing and snow shoeing.

One of Amy’s favorite parts of being a Pilates instructor is helping others feel stronger both emotionally and physically. Amy personally felt an increase in both her inner and outer strength, feeling more confident in all of her activities. Pilates is now an integral part of her weekly workout regimen. As Amy says: “I have always enjoyed being active, but was often challenged by not feeling strong enough. When training personally and working with clients, I often relate their interests to the exercises we are doing to make it more relevant and muscle specific.”

Amy truly believes that, regardless of one’s fitness level or age, all can benefit from participating in Pilates. Amy’s advice to someone contemplating a class at Pilates in East: “Be open to learning to think about a familiar movement in a new way. Listening to cues from the instructor, you’ll be surprised (and excited) at the connections one can make.”

Amy teaches group classes and private sessions at Pilates in East. She is comprehensively certified through Balanced Body and is working towards getting PMA certified. Come check her out. You’ll love her personable demeanor; ability to challenge you physically and her extensive knowledge about Pilates movement that will help you get the most out of your time with her!

Exercise of the Month: Leg Pull Front

We are half way through January! At this point, some of us might be revisiting our New Year’s resolutions and goals to see how we are doing thus far. Whether your goal was to move more, eat less, be kinder, slow down, or some combination of these, it’s still very early in the year to think about what we would like to accomplish and how we want to feel. Even if you’ve found yourself off course, it’s not too late to hop back on the resolution train!

For me, I know a good workout is exhilarating and motivating. Each workout usually includes some version of plank (since I love the benefits of working the core – I mean, the core is where essentially EVERY movement begins).

This month, we are featuring an exercise that will take your planking skills up a notch, challenge the core even more and get those wonderful muscles firing all over!


This exercise is a core strength builder that literally engages every part of the body (a bonus for those of you who appreciate a full body workout as well as efficiency). While this is an exercise that uses many muscles, it is considered a beginner Pilates exercise and can be done on the mat without any equipment.

How to do Leg Pull Front:

  • Start on your knees and place your hands on the floor in front of you – fingers pointing straight ahead. Arms are straight and elbows unlocked. Knees should be lined up under the hips and wrists lined up under the shoulders.
  • Press your chest away from the mat, engaging the shoulders and making sure those shoulder blades aren’t popping up towards the ceiling.
  • Engage your abdominals (drawing naval to spine), lengthen your spine (thinking reaching top of your head forward out in front of you) as you float those knees off the mat. Step one foot back at a time to a plank position.
  • With abdominals lifted, legs are straight and together behind you. Your toes are curled under so that some weight is on the balls of your feet.
  • Double check your position: Your ears, shoulders, hips and heels should be in one long line.
  • Engaging the abdominals even more, extend one leg from the hip so that your foot lifts off the mat a few inches. Remember – the movement is initiated by using your core, not just from the back of the leg.
  • Focusing on length (rather than height of that lifted leg) will help keep abs engaged and from “crunching” into the low back.
  • Return your foot to the mat and switch to the other side.
  • Repeat the lift five to seven times on each side.


  • Improve scapular stability
  • Enhance stabilization of the trunk
  • Strengthen abdominals
  • Strengthen arms


  • Let your breath help you through this exercise. Breathe fully and keep those abdominals engaged and pulled in.
  • Keeping your legs and butt engaged and pulling in toward your center will take some pressure off of the upper body.
  • Keep the elbows close to your sides at all times.


  • If you have wrist problems, try to place a towel under the wrist or lower down to your forearms for the exercise.
  • Watch that the low back doesn’t sag or arch towards the mat.
  • Avoid during mid-late stage pregnancy.

***As with all exercises programs, please consult with your physician and know your limitations prior to starting a new workout regimen.***

Once you have mastered this exercise on the mat, come on into Pilates in East and one of our instructors will have you perform a version of ‘Leg Pull Front’ on the reformer! Just when you thought it was beginning to feel easy, they will help you get deeper into the exercise, find ways to build more strength and push you to become the best version of yourself!


January’s Featured Instructor: Iona Ruiter


Our first featured instructor of 2017 is Iona Ruiter. Iona is a champ in all sense of the word! She just gave birth to her second child (10lbs 3oz 100% naturally!) this past month and taught classes up until right before she delivered her sweet little daughter.

Although she was never a fan of working out, Iona found Pilates in 2011 after a couple years of being married and “starting to feel a little softer.” She had heard about the benefits of Pilates – toning with lean muscle – and decided to give it a try. She loved what she saw, how she felt and eventually wanted to share this passion with others by becoming an instructor.

Not only has Iona thoroughly enjoyed the physical benefits of Pilates, the emotional stress reliever was an added bonus for her. “Emotionally I feel like a weight has been lifted, I always found Pilates to be a great stress reliever because I have such a busy mind. The mind body connection you get with Pilates makes it so I don’t think about everyday life. I only think of what my body is doing using my mind to focus and create healthy movement with my body. That is why I fell in love with Pilates! For me it does not feel like a workout, it feels almost like a form of meditation.”

Iona loves being an instructor and in between being a mom, doing Pilates on her own and finding time to walk and hike with her husband and 2 little ones, she loves that she has found a career that does not feel at all like work! When asked what her favorite part of being an instructor is, Iona said, “I always love the positive feedback from clients whether it be that they really enjoyed the workout, that they thought something new that we did was really interesting, that they learned something new, or that they notice how much stronger they are getting and that they are finally able to do that one thing that they couldn’t before. To me that is the best feeling.”

One of Iona’s passions in working with her clients is working with prenatal and postnatal women. “I discovered Pilates before being pregnant with either of my children, so I really enjoy working with prenatal women, I also suffered from diastasis recti [abdominal separation] after my first so postnatal Pilates is a true passion of mine. I learned so much from the experience and was able to make my most recent postpartum part of pregnancy so much easier. I still have the diastasis, but it’s so much less severe this time and I already feel so much stronger. I’ve done so much research on the condition and love to share my knowledge and passion about the issue.”

Prior to her work as an instructor at Pilates in East, Iona became certified in the pink ribbon program, which helps breast cancer survivors learn how to move their bodies again after their treatment. Iona is truly a caring and informative instructor who will give you a challenging workout but also feel like a friend after the hour class.

When asked what advice she would share with someone new to Pilates or Barre, Iona said, “Don’t give up if it seems too hard, and ask questions!!! Also listen to your body, don’t push your body too much thinking you have to be doing the exercises like the person next to you. It’s about teaching your body how to move, and we are all at different levels physically. That’s why you really need to focus on you mentally and physically, and how often do we really get a chance to do that in this day and age?”

Iona will be back in the studio before we know it. Check out the schedule and come check out a class!


Happy New Year From Pilates in East!


Happy New Year! For most people, January 1st is a time for us to set new goals, new aspirations and resolutions for the upcoming year. It is a time of refresh and blank slates. It is a time when people push themselves to try new things and jump past the boundaries of comfort zones.

If Pilates has ever been on your radar as an activity that you’d someday like to experience, we invite you into Pilates in East to meet one of the instructors and give a class a try. In order to make this new experience even more seamless and less intimidating, we are committed this year to featuring our instructors each month – for you to get to know them better, to hear their stories (how they found Pilates and why they love it) and to provide more insight on why we, as a team at Pilates in East, are committed to helping our community feel stronger, healthier and happier.

Here’s to a stronger year full of bold goals!

Turn Your Pilates Passion into a Profession

reformer-new-1When I stumbled upon my first Pilates class in 2007, never would I have expected that this newfound passion had the potential to turn into a career! With the instructor leading the class through so many intricate moves and using a wide variety of anatomical cues, becoming an instructor was far from the realm of possibilities in my thought. That is until I met Ahmé at Pilates in East. I met Ahmé when I moved to Grand Rapids and had this little twinge in my heart that kept suggesting that I inquire about someday teaching Pilates.

Becoming an instructor was one of my best decisions to date and I am beyond grateful that I now get paid to help people feel stronger, longer, leaner and more dominion in their lives. I’ve been pushed to become a better presenter, to be more articulate and have become physically stronger. It has been an amazing way to connect with others in the community and to add another skill to my athletic repertoire. Other instructors at Pilates in East also share this same passion of helping people. Whether it is helping their clients work towards a fitness goal, overcoming an injury, preparing for the delivery of a child or building up strength post-partum, the benefits and joys of teaching Pilates and Barre are endless.

Pilates in East is set to expand in 2017 and with that expansion, they will be looking to add passionate and knowledgeable instructors to their already stellar team. They offer a limited number of “apprentice” opportunities. (Contact Ahmé for more information regarding this opportunity). If there has ever been a spark of interest in your mind in regards to becoming an instructor, there is an Anatomy course being offered this month (September) and Mat 1 in October. As the days grow shorter and chillier here in Grand Rapids, this is a great (and fun) way to spend a weekend and to explore the start to a new career.

When I moved to Grand Rapids three years ago, I was pleased to learn that I didn’t have to travel far to pursue my dream of becoming an instructor. As the only training center in West Michigan, I was able to begin a career as a Pilates instructor in my own backyard. This was the best find yet in GR! After completing the Mat 1 and 2 courses, my Pilates addiction grew and I continued on with the Reformer courses. The classes are fun and informative; the studio is beautiful, peaceful and inspiring; and Ahmé knows her stuff!

Ahmé is a Master Training from Balanced Body (www.pilates.com) spending the past 12 years training instructors all over the region. She is known for her ability to explain complex anatomy and biomechanical concepts in an easy to understand and entertaining way. The courses span an entire weekend and personally, I find myself wanting more after the end of each training weekend!

Balanced Body is the industry leading Teacher Training and Equipment manufacturer worldwide and is celebrating its 40th year. The company’s commitment to quality, safety and the highest standards is outstanding!

If you are at all on the fence about learning more about this opportunity, below are a few links to provide more information. As always, feel free to reach out to Pilates in East directly for more specific questions.

Exciting things are in the works and we can’t wait to see how the team expands!


UPCOMING COURSES: http://www.pilatesineast.com/upcomingcourses

ABOUT Ahmé: http://www.pilatesineast.com/aboutahme

PILATES IN EAST: info@pilatesineast.com


Pilates vs. Yoga: What’s the difference?

Yoga and Pilates are often used in the same breath – or clumped together as the same style of workout. However, take a couple classes at a local studio and you will immediately notice that there are a few key differences between these two great workouts.

The Similarities:

  • Both Pilates and Yoga share the focus of the “Mind/Body connection” (although yoga tends to infuse more spiritual focus as well).
  • Strength and Flexibility are benefits to both styles of exercise. Although different exercises are performed in Yoga and Pilates, both lead to improved strength and increased flexibility.

The Differences:

  • Equipment: In yoga, no machines and minimal equipment (if any) is used in a class whereas Pilates classes (depending on which class you choose)offer the use of machines and a variety of equipment. One of the more popular machines in Pilates, a reformer, allows for zero-impact resistance training that bridges the gap for those who enjoy weight training.
  • Movement and muscle toning as a focus in Pilates whereas in yoga, this doesn’t tend to be a specific focus.
  • Orgin: Yoga got its start thousands of years ago with roots from India; Pilates started in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates with the main focus initially was for strengthening and body rehabilitation. It has since gained popularity through dance world when Joseph Pilates moved to New York.
  • Breathing: The purpose of the breath serves different purposes in these different practices. In yoga, the breath helps one to relax and gain flexibility. In Pilates, the breath most often helps facilitate muscle movement.
  • Static vs. dynamic: Yoga poses (traditionally) are held for longer and tend to be more static whereas Pilates exercises tend to involve more movement.
  • Focus – Yoga tends to be centered more around the meditation (again generalizing) whereas Pilates focuses on the mind-body connection surrounding your ‘core.’ Both are amazingly beneficial to your life.


Both yoga and Pilates are wonderful additions to anyone’s workout regimen. Or a great place to start if you have not yet established a workout regimen. As one of the few Pilates studios in Grand Rapids, we welcome you into Pilates in East! See for yourself if you can identify these similarities and differences. We look forward to seeing you!


Marlayna and Katie


“In 10 sessions, you feel better, 20 sessions you look better, 30 sessions you have a completely new body.” ~ Joseph Pilates.



Spice Up Your Post-Workout Smoothie!

Here in West Michigan, summer is in full swing. Some locals are soaking in the heat – others are hunkering down in the AC and counting down the days until fall. Regardless of which category you fall under, nothing says summer like grilling, s’moores and of course, cool drinks/smoothies.

One of my personal favorite ways to refuel after a workout is to toss handfuls of fruit, vegetables and juices into a blender. Ahmé, studio director and Master Trainer at Pilates in East is also a fellow smoothie fanatic. She shared with me a great way to add a little extra healthy kick to my current smoothie recipes. Here is what Ahmé had to say about her smoothie additions:

“For several years I have loved making green smoothies especially in the summer months.  I almost always include a tablespoon of chia, flax or hemp seeds in my smoothie recipes for the nutritional value.  Recently I have come across a great product at Harvest Health “Superseed Blend” by Nutiva.  You can put a spoonful in your smoothie, on cereal, oatmeal or yogurt.  It tastes a bit sweet and nutty. It contains flax, chia, hempseed and coconut; 200 mg Omega-3; 3g fiber and 3b protein. It is vegan and organic.”

How’s that for giving your smoothie’s a little kick! After your next “Tone and Tighten” or Reformer class at Pilates in East, toss a spoonful of Superseed Blend into your blender with the rest of your favorite ingredients and enjoy!

Blog superseed

Ahmé, studio director and Master Trainer at Pilates in East