PM360 recently spoke to Ilnaz Shirkhorshidian, Senior Director, Medical Outcomes Specialist Lead, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Disorders at Pfizer Inc., about opening up a whole new world through Pilates.

Ilnaz at the studio in a mermaid position.

PM360: How did you get started with Pilates?

Ilnaz Shirkhorshidian: Well, I’m not an athlete by any means, but I enjoy being active. My workouts typically consist of boxing, high-intensity interval training, weights, and hiking. I also like to have variety and Pilates seemed like it would nicely complement my workouts. I knew with Pilates I would see an improvement in my physical strength, flexibility, and posture but the enhanced mind/body connection was an added benefit. I’ve now been practicing Pilates consistently for the past three years and have loved every minute of it!

Ilnaz doing a teaser on the long box.

What style of Pilates do you do? Can you describe what the workout is like?

I practice classic Pilates, which involves the reformer, tower, chair, and mat. It took me some time finding the right studio and workout type as there are variations of Pilates that are now popular, but at the studio I go to, a•line Pilates in Brooklyn, they teach the original method of exercises developed by Joseph Pilates nearly a century ago! A typical workout is HARD but I always feel energized afterwards. I have a fantastic instructor who has been instrumental in my Pilates journey and has made each workout fun, yet rewarding. It’s a full-body workout and we may stay on one machine for the entire workout or jump around for different exercises.

What makes you passionate about doing Pilates? What do you feel you get out of these experiences?

Pilates is a phenomenal workout, but it also has become an outlet for me. You really gain a mind/body balance that is crucial with our busy lives. I also appreciate the friendships and sense of community I’ve developed over the years. Additionally, I’ve been able to combine my passion for traveling with Pilates. I’ve gone on a couple of Pilates retreats and that has just opened a door to a whole new world (literally!). I’ve never been one to travel alone for leisure, but these retreats are a fantastic way to get out of your comfort zone and experience a new culture, eat amazing food, relax, meet new people, and still be active while on vacation. My favorite retreat thus far was at this resort in this small town in Austria called Going am Wilden Kaiser where it seemed like you were in the Sound of Music!

Morning views in Going am Wilden Kaiser in Austria.

That sounds amazing. Between workouts and travel, do you have any goals you are looking to achieve from Pilates?

Well, for me Pilates has become a way of life. So my goals are simple: Continue to work on my form and do another Pilates retreat. Maybe somewhere warm this time, like Spain or Portugal

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