A number of years ago, Amelia Abrahams, as a petit 19-year-old, was assigned to teach Pilates to six muscular firemen. The men took one look at her and the equipment and asked her, “Why are we doing this? It’s going be too easy.” Then she put them through some adductor (inner thigh muscle) exercises and they realized it was NOT easy.
Amelia now is the new owner of the Firon Fitness Pilates Studio Tiburon on Lower Ark Row. The Mill Valley resident bought the business in June 2018 and since then has painted, put up new blinds, brought in some new equipment, installed a new floor and updated the space. The restroom was remodeled and new reception furniture sits by the front door.
Stephanie Ziegler originally opened the studio in May 2005; Sky Hegedus took over its ownership in May 2012. Amelia started teaching there in June 2014 and bought the business last year.
“We are in a growth mode right now,” she says. “We have a strong foundation at the Pilates Studio, and we are expanding the Pilates business as well as adding other modalities to create a center for health and wellness.
“We work with clients of all ages,” she says. “They range from 12-years-old to 92, and they cover all fitness levels, from fitness models, dancers and athletes to people recovering from injuries or surgeries. I even have a client who doesn’t have the use of one of her legs, and we are always finding new ways to strengthen and balance her body. That is the genius of Pilates; it’s beneficial to every body.”
There are seven Pilates instructors here, one yoga teacher, a physical therapist and a massage therapist, and Barre classes are coming soon, taught by Amelia.
A variety of workshops are offered periodically, with specialists in such areas as essential oils for both mental and physical health, nutrition guidance and make-up application. Essential oils and workout clothing are for sale.
At age four, the Denver native asked her parents if she could take classical ballet lessons because her older sister was doing it. Classes at the Colorado Ballet Academy were in the Vaganova method, and Amelia says by the time she was eight-years-old, she knew ballet was the profession she wanted to pursue.
At 12, she spent the summer at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. This is the satellite school of the prestigious Vaganova Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. At 14, she was invited to attend the school year-round, and she graduated from its high school at age 16 in 2001.
And this is where Pilates entered her life … Amelia injured her back while dancing in high school. Her Russian teachers all told her to just bear the pain, but when she heard that Pilates might help, she tried it. “Pilates fixed me,” Amelia says. “It got rid of my pain.”
At U.C. Irvine, Amelia majored in dance and minored in sports medicine/kinesiology, while also working at a nearby physical therapy clinic. One of her college ballet teachers owned a Pilates studio that included a certification program, and Amelia became a certified Pilates instructor during her senior year in college.
After graduating magna cum laude at age 20, Amelia joined the Nevada Ballet Theater in Las Vegas where she taught Pilates.
“On a whim,” she says, “a bunch of us auditioned as dancers in Phantom of the Opera – which was my grandmother’s favorite musical.” Amelia was picked as one of the six dancers, and for the next six-and-a-half-years, she continued to teach Pilates in her home studio and danced and sang in 10 performances of Phantom each week.
During this time, the dancers and singers regularly put on benefit concerts for local charities. “This gave us the chance to work on different choreography and music than what we were performing every day and, at the same time, let us give back to our local community,” she says.
“We not only created the show, but also did all of the marketing and sales, booking the venue, etc,” she says. “Many of these skills have helped me transition from ballerina and Pilates instructor to studio owner, juggling all of the day-to-day operations that a small business owner is in charge of.” Phantom closed in September 2012.
Amelia and her boyfriend, Patrick LeVeque, a Mill Valley native, decided to move to Marin. Patrick played Bertie and, later, Curly, in Bye Bye Bertie and was in Oklahoma when the Mountain Play put on its version of the two musicals.
During a preliminary Marin visit in 2012, the pair happened to be walking around Tiburon the day Sky held her Grand Re-Opening of the Pilates Studio. They went in and met her, and two years later Amelia began to teach Pilates there.
“The thing about Pilates is, it’s for every age and fitness level, and it can help with many injuries,” she says. “It works on both small muscle groups and deep muscle groups. But, the number one reason people start doing Pilates is because of back pain.”
Pilates is said to help with spinal stenosis, herniated or bulging disk, sciatica, scoliosis and other back and spinal maladies. “Pilates allowed me to have a professional dance career,” she says. “It’s for everybody and all bodies.
“There are no restrictions on how fit someone needs to be to start doing Pilates,” she says. “It can help new moms gain strength; get better posture; works on aging bodies; helps balance, core and upper body strength; and if you fall down, it helps you to be able to get up, plus, it’s great training for athletes. People in Marin value being fit and are always looking for challenging exercises.
“What’s happening with injuries is they often happen when the body is out of balance,” she says. “Marin has a lot of cyclists, skiers, runners and tennis players, and they need to balance the muscles used in those sports.”
The Pilates Studio offers group, semi-private and private Pilates, Barre and yoga classes, with prices starting at $35/hour, although the prices depend on how often, what kind and what combination of sessions a client chooses.
Amelia plans to hold a Grand Re-Opening party on Saturday, September 7. Please check her social media for details. The Pilates Studio will also host the September 18 chamber mixer, 5:30 to 7 p.m. All are welcome.
Pilates Studio – Amelia Abrahams
Hours: Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sunday & off-hours: By appointment
78 Main Street (Lower Ark Row)
Facebook: Pilates Studio Tiburon