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Rising Stars: Meet Tamar Reisner-Stehman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tamar Reisner-Stehman.

Hi Tamar, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My love of Pilates started at Goucher College, where I was an undergraduate when I participated in a study on how the Pilates Method could help dancers improve their ballet technique. Through the study, I took both group and private Pilates lessons, and even after the study concluded, I continued my practice.

As my undergraduate education wrapped up, I was accepted into a fellowship through the Pilates Center at Goucher College. The fellowship gave me the opportunity to become a certified Romana’s (Classical) Pilates instructor and work at the Pilates Center.

Almost exactly a year and a half into teaching at The Pilates Center, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our world. I found myself back home in Pennsylvania, and I was teaching all of my clients remotely. It was a big and sudden adjustment from teaching clients in-person and having access to all the apparatus and equipment in the studio to just being able to teach Pilates on the mat! It forced me to be creative and keep things interesting. I found confidence in using only verbal cues to teach without the aid of tactile ones.

As my time was ending with the Pilates Center, I wanted a new experience in teaching Pilates, but I also wanted to pursue my goal of dancing professionally. Chasing my dream to dance professionally was the reason I was drawn to becoming a Pilates instructor in the first place. Being a Pilates instructor is not a typical 9 to 5 workday and the flexibility in the teaching schedule is the perfect complement to an unconventional schedule like a dance.

During the pandemic, I had a lot of time to think about where I wanted to take my Pilates journey. It became clear to me that I was interested in one day opening my own brick-and-mortar studio. But I was too eager to wait for “one day” to come and decided to start slowly building my own business online. After all, I was currently teaching virtually for the Pilates Center. Why couldn’t I continue a virtual schedule independently? So, I wrote a business plan, researched the market, and built a digital presence for my studio — Sunflower Studio: Classical Pilates by Tamar.

In April I made the decision to move to the Washington, DC area to pursue dance and officially launched Sunflower Studio in June. Today, it is still very much a budding small business. I see a few virtual clients each week through Sunflower Studio in conjunction with teaching at another local studio in person, all the while exploring dance opportunities. I’m excited to see what the future holds for all of these endeavors!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
The biggest hurdle so far has been the COVID-19 pandemic, as it radically changed the course of my Pilates career. I’m not sure that I would have launched my own virtual studio if the pandemic had not happened. Not only did it provide a pause in my life which gave me the space to realize that I wanted to have my own studio, but it also gave me the time to develop and build my business now instead of waiting to open a brick and mortar studio years down the road.

However, balancing all of my pursuits has not been easy. Often I find I need to temporarily let go of certain aspects of each — maybe this week I don’t work on my website so I can take a dance class, maybe next week I skip dance so I can see a client. All of these bumps are part of the process, and it’s only by making my way through these growing pains that I’ve been able to figure out where I truly want to put my energy and how I want to craft my future. I feel lucky to have an incredible partner and support system that help me keep me grounded and my vision centered.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
I think the most obvious thing that sets me apart is that I am a Romana’s Pilates instructor. Pilates has become an incredibly varied technique over the years, but Romana’s Pilates is a branch of the Classical Pilates tree that endeavors only to teach the method as Joseph Pilates himself would have taught. When done correctly, Classical Pilates will help build a strong connection between the mind and body, which will help to alleviate pain, build both muscle tone and flexibility, and help one’s performance in other activities that bring joy!

Beyond teaching Pilates, dance is what I am passionate about. I am trained in ballet and modern dance and love to perform both modern works and contemporary ballets. Some of my favorite pieces that I’ve performed have been choreographed by Jessica Lang and Hellen Simoneau. Though the pandemic has largely put performances on hold, as COVID restrictions lift, I’m excited to return to the stage.

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
For Pilates, I have found Pilatesology, which is an online platform that houses a multitude of quality Pilates workouts and workshops, to be an invaluable resource!

I also love listening to Hidden Brain and How I Built This, two amazing podcasts from NPR. And I am currently reading, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. This book talks about how trauma is held in the body through the lens of race. As someone who works with the body daily, I’m finding it particularly interesting to read about the intersection of trauma, race, psychology, and the body.

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