"If your spine is stiff at 30,” he once said, you are old. If it is flexible at 60,
you are young." - Joseph H. Pilates
In addition our 5-star reviews on Google (on the bottom of each web page), we also wanted to share some other testimonials shared with our team.
On October 20, 2017, while at a conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dale (my husband) suffered a massive Acute Ischemic Left MCA Stroke (Middle Cerebral Artery stroke with peroximal AFIB). He was transported to Lancaster Emergency and subsequently life-flighted to University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, which was one of only about a dozen places that could handle this type of stroke. We spent the next three weeks undergoing many lifechanging procedures.
His Atrial Fibrillation had created a blood clot which had travelled into his brain and the subsequent massive stroke effects left a devastating trail throughout his body. It had rendered his entire right side immovable and took a serious hit on multiple sections of his brain functions. He also suffered loss of comprehension, verbal communication, decision making capabilities, and drastically disrupted his sleep center which affected his ability to sleep and breathe while he slept. Not only did it also take his ability to eat, but his sense of taste and smell were also gone. What hit me the hardest was that the stroke had robbed him of the ability to have or feel any emotions or understand any emotional feelings. In short, he was a medical, physical, mental and emotional mess.
In the course of multiple medical procedures, to save his life, they also had to insert a permanent stomach feeding tube. He mysteriously became feverish, which prompted the doctors to search for the origin of the illness. While they never discovered the reason for his fever, they did discover that his left kidney had a cancer mass and needed to be surgically removed as soon as possible. They decided to get him stronger first before operating on the cancerous mass by sending him to a specialized rehab unit in Hampton, Virginia . He was immediately diagnosed disabled.
My husband came home around Thanksgiving 2017. He was physically broken, and mentally affected in many ways as well as emotionally void. We began learning how to function as a 3 year old mentality and worked our way to where he is today. In January, 2018, Dale underwent surgery for kidney cancer. Unbeknownst to us, he suffered another stroke while on the surgical table. It was confirmed by MRI that he did have another stroke and it showed further brain damage. We spent the entire years of 2018 and 2019 between doctor appointments for cancer, stroke therapy, hospitalization for AFIB care, sleep testing and fitting him for a Bipap because he would stop breathing multiple times at night, bleeding internally, kidney stones, hospitalization for diverticulitis, and more therapy. Dale also began to experience dizzy spells and was finally diagnosed with electrolyte deficiency.
In 2019, we finally began to make some progress in his mental, medical and physical state. I learned more about physical therapy but it was not as productive as I had hoped it would be. It was more like assembly line therapy. He completed all his requirements but seemed to make very little physical progress. He struggled with dropped foot, walking, balance, coordination, communication, brain functions, emotional capability and had no social skills. I began to inquire about more specialized therapy because I realized his right arm and hand would become atrophied once the max allowance for sessions was reached. In mis 2019, I was referred to Alona by his counselor who was helping him communicate and sort out his recent traumatic medical experiences. One more note to add: I found out that Dale would respond to many things I could do to help him, but when it came to physical exercises he was supposed to do, the resistance from him was very real. He would not allow me to mandate exercises that would make him stronger. It had to come from someone other than me.
Alona was advertised as a Pilates Instructor but I soon realized she was so much more. Besides having Pilates credentials, she was credentialed in (Alona you can fill in this part.) and working toward specializing in (more for you to fill in). To me she was simply an energetic breath of fresh air and a Christian Godsend. To this day I do not know what Pilates is, but I do know that she immediately saw the shape he was in, assessed his condition and said he needs work.
Alona first worked on his alignment and one by one physically manipulated each limb to relax and allow the muscles to begin the road to healing. She started from scratch and literally transformed his physical body from broken to a work in progress. She introduced the idea of mind, body and spirit by integrating deep muscle massage and energy work into his regiment for healing. Dale had several medical difficulties which required hospitalization and even surgical procedures, all while undergoing therapy with Alona. She was gentle, extremely knowledgeable, intuitive and persistent in righting whatever she could in his current condition. I would also like to add her deep knowledge of the intricate workings of the body muscles and how to access them worked absolute miracles on Dale during a deep massage therapy.
Dale’s progression has been an extraordinarily encouraging and steady improvement with therapeutic expertise from Alona . First thing to go was his orthotic for his drop foot. As of December 2022, Dale stands tall and straight with good physical alignment. His walking has drastically improved in both longevity, pace, stamina and form. Recently he recently began leaving his cane in the car when entering certain places. His right side is still greatly affected but he can raise his right arm up to shoulder height. He has limited use of his right hand but can use it to hold items, open bottles, and help with dressing himself. There is injured suppleness but no atrophy on his right side. He can now speak well for short conversations, comprehend and follow directions. Those who meet him for the first time have no idea what he has endured, how far, how much and how hard it has been to get back to living with physical independence despite the initial prognosis.
Others may have relegated him to accept his medical diagnosis but she encouraged him no matter how dismal the outlook. It became evident that Alona possessed special patience, caring, certified knowledge, great ability, training and personal drive not only to complement but to go beyond the confines of medical science. She is STILL completing certifications that have made her more of an expert in many aspects of physical healing. Dale has thrived, responded, worked on reviving limbs that he had given up on and consistently gets compliments on how much progress he has made. She is SO much more than a Pilates therapist.
The second week of September 2016 found me knocking on the door of Smart Bodies Pilates based on a high recommendation from a friend of mine. In my youth, I had 12 years of ballet classes. I had taken Pilates before at a different studio here in Williamsburg about twelve years ago so I thought I knew what I was in for.
Alona Casanave (the owner and therapist), answered the door and we talked. Two weeks later, I signed up for 10 private classes (two 55 minute sessions per week). After all, if I decided I didn't like Alona or the way she taught the class, I could quit. But I'm here to tell you, everything about this experience was entirely different than anything I had experienced before.
The first session was an assessment of my body. I came into this extremely overweight, going to the chiropractor 1-2 times a week to be "adiusted" for sciatica and other back pain, and virtually not having any form of exercise for 12 years! What a mess Alona had gotten herself into (my words not hers).
Having had Pilates before, I expected to "jump right in" again but Alona required me to start at the very beginning. She explained breathing, equipment and its use, bones, tendons and muscles used in each exercise, and she demonstrated the "right" VS.
"wrong" positioning of my body in the execution of each movement -all in great detail. Then we started with Pilates basics. Alona, watched me like a hawk for proper breathing and position, and she stopped me all along the way for correctness in my exercising. Believe me I started with b-a-b-y steps! This was intense but effective.
After about 6 months, I knew I was making progress because I felt stronger and straighter and was pain free. I also realized that mentally I was ready to do more, but that physically I couldn't do certain exercises because of my being overweight. In order to keep progressing in Pilates, I decided it was time to lose weight so I started Weight Watchers.
Now another 6 months later, I am can actually see the results of the weight loss but more importantly, the results of sticking to Pilates for a year. I now see the muscle that Alona told me was forming under my weight all along, as well as the inches lost. She encouraged me every class and pushed me "to do what I was capable of but in some cases, afraid to attempt to do." You never get bored with Alona's classes because she is constantly introducing new equipment to use, and new exercises to perform. You use muscles you never knew you had because in Pilates, your exercises isolate the use of individual muscles in some cases. It is a well-rounded workout. Alona is like a walking encyclopedia of knowledge about Pilates as well as the muscular and skeletal system and the interaction of them all. She explains things very clearly and is a stickler for proper form and breathing. She tailors your class to whatever your body needs, starting each one with the question, "How are you feeling today?”
I give my heartfelt thanks to Alona for being such a caring, knowledgeable, and encouraging instructor. Not only have I gained a new friend, but also a pain free, better looking and healthier body. I have gained back balance and flexibility like I haven't experienced in years. I highly recommend Alona for anyone looking to "heal" their body.
I recently started taking classes at Smart Bodies Pilates, and I have to say, I'm blown away by the experience. In addition to the excellent Pilates instruction (I didn't even know I had muscles in some of the places we worked on!) I've also had the opportunity to explore energy healing and meditation with Alona. This has been nothing short of transformative and has changed my life.
The energy healing sessions have been particularly powerful for me. I wasn't sure what to expect at first, but Alona was incredibly knowledgeable and compassionate, and she created a safe, supportive space for me to explore some deep emotional and physical issues. I left feeling lighter and more centered and grounded than I have in years. Alona truly has a gift and employs her multi-talented repertoire of knowledge and skills to give you an individualized experience. Whether it is energy alone, or combined with acupressure or massage, you need to truly experience this for yourself to understand how beneficial, cathartic, and life changing this is.
The meditation classes have also been a highlight. I have struggled with meditation in the past because I can't "visualize". This was a completely different experience with Alona doing a guided meditation with lots of other sensory components to help my mind settle. The session occurs in a darkened room while we are cocooned in aerial yoga swings. Alona's voice, along with sound bath therapy is a game changer and I truly look forward to the next class. I've never felt like I really "got it" until now. Alona has a gift for guiding you into a state of deep relaxation and focus, and I always leave feeling refreshed and recharged.
Overall, I can't recommend Smart Bodies Pilates enough. The quality is top-notch, and the offerings of pilates, energy healing, massage, and meditation really set it apart. If you're looking for a holistic approach to fitness and wellness, this is the place to go. I am so grateful that I found Smart Bodies Pilates - you should try it for yourself!!!