170 Santa Clara Ave., Oakland, 510-868-8122
Pilates studios can be fly-by-night operations, offered by gyms with falling membership. When taught by someone with minimal training, Pilates can harm necks, spines, or other body parts. Carolyn Mueller comes about as close as one can to learning from the source, having interned with Eve Gentry, a dancer and Pilates instructor who was trained by Joseph Pilates himself. With 27 years of experience, Mueller is so good that some doctors send their patients to her for core strengthening. Her classes (one to four people) are not only therapeutic, they're fun. She has one Cadillac, three reformers, balls, rings, and a Wunda Chair, which means something to Pilates aficionados. No body is too big nor too inflexible, which is just like the way that Joseph Pilates — who began his regime working with World War I and II vets — intended for it to be. Mueller also gives Pilates mat classes at Diablo Valley College, where she's a fulltime dance teacher. She focuses on breathing, movement, and flow. It's not about the pose but about the process, which, when you think of it, is what life's all about.