A grand opening event — with a lot of bounce and jump in its steps — occurred in Kanawha City on June 18, to introduce the community officially to the Improve Pilates & Fitness Center.
The center is located within the Improve Physical Therapy & Hand Center on MacCorkle Avenue, S.E. Kimberly Warner, the wife of Improve Physical Therapy & Hand Center founder and Physical Therapist Todd Warner, serves as the owner/manager and an instructor, putting clients through their Pilates and other exercise paces.
Warner’s training credentials include being Pilates Academy International certified in anatomy, biomechanics, posture analysis, and Pilates mat/reformer instruction for all populations. She is also a certified Active Isolated Stretching and Core Barre Smart Movement instructor, as well as a certified maven for BootyBarre Bounce, BootyBarre Sculpt, BootyBarre Suspension, bbarreless, and TRX. (BootyBarre is a full-body, low-impact workout fusion of Pilates, ballet, dance and yoga techniques.)
A personal trainer and fitness coach for five years before opening her new venture, Warner undertook Pilates and other exercise originally because of severe asthma, allergy and sinus conditions she has dealt with since early childhood.
“I was diagnosed, as a baby, as a potentially fatal asthmatic,” the lifelong Charleston resident said, which she said led to a series of experimental medications and hospital treatments. Her condition limited her ability to pursue her passion for riding horses, although she said there were some respiratory benefits, such as building endurance, she gained from it.
Following a pregnancy, Warner required hernia surgery. She discovered found Pilates brought relief and results.
“My whole fitness routine changed after my surgery,” she said. “I needed some way to improve my core without using heavy weights. Pilates and barre helped me put my body back together and actually improve it.”
She began practicing Pilates techniques from expert trainer and BootyBarre creator Tracey Mallett’s courses. “I became such a huge fan of trampoline and rebounding; it mimics what I missed from riding horses.”
Amid its all new equipment, the Improve Pilates & Fitness Center features a 32-foot, oak, Vita Vibe barre; reformers and full-length mirrors. Mini trampolines permit rebounding exercising, and bands and other props and equipment are available to augment strengthening and movement. (Warner said the bands are sometimes put to use to the sounds of “Burning Love” by Elvis Presley, during a routine that leaves clients energized, but not necessarily all shook up.)
Operating inside the physical therapy center has its benefits for a number of her clients, she said. “We’re a good complement to each other. A lot of times, after someone has surgery and goes through rehab, they might be more inclined to go to us. It’s a smaller setting in a big space.
“I really enjoy helping people and I feel very blessed to love what I do. Having a facility with lots of space, a great location, and easy parking is a game changer for most clients. We offer classes for all ages and fitness levels,” Warner said. “Pilates is for every type of body and all levels. We have beginner classes and can take them up to advanced.”
Vicky McDaniel is her instruction partner at Improve Pilates & Fitness Center. “She’s well-credentialed,” Warner said, “and makes older people and beginners very comfortable. I have my own Intro to Pilates class, which is 30 minutes, and Intro to Barre and Intro to Bounce.
“It can be intimidating trying a new class,” Warner acknowledged. “My goal is to make everybody feel safe and secure. I say don’t compare yourself to your neighbors in the class.”
Trampoline rebounding is beneficial in treating osteoporosis and bone density loss, she said. She added that along with their multiple physical benefits, the workouts can decompress clients’ stress levels. “It helps with the relaxation of their entire body and their mind. It’s so therapeutic. It releases endorphins. Everybody is happier. I know I’m happier and a better mom for it. People need to take time for fitness. It enhances every area of their life. It just makes for a happier person. ... It gives me such joy seeing people feel better about themselves.”
Clients come in “all shapes and sizes,” she said, from recent college graduates to mothers to senior citizens and “some who put on some extra weight during COVID-19.” She caters the class pace for each participant as well.
“You can take breaks when you need them,” Warner said. “I’m not a drill sergeant. They call me ‘Fitness Barbie,’ but not in a derogatory way. I watch you like a hawk and cue you through the movements. ... I’ve been blessed to have had trainers to teach me how to modify these classes to make them safe for people.
“The classes are fun. You develop a relationship with your clients. It’s more than toning your body — it’s fellowship and it makes you connect with people, and I just love what I do. I’m very passionate about it. It not only worked for me, but I get the joy of working with other people. I’m so blessed just to be a part of someone’s fitness journey,” Warner said.
Group, private and semi-private class sessions are available, as are sessions by appointments. Lunchtime, evening and weekend hours are offered for scheduling convenience.
“We hold group classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, as well as Saturday and Sunday Funday classes,” she said.
Class schedules can be viewed at the Mindbody app.
Warner added that frequent cleaning and other recommended COVID-19 protocols are in place at the center.
The Improve Pilates & Fitness Center is located at 4522 MacCorkle Ave., S.E., Suite 1, in Kanawha City. Abundant, free parking is available outside.
For more information, including rates, services and class schedules, phone 304-925-HEAL (4325), visit the center’s Facebook or Instagram pages or go online to improvept.com.