St. George entrepreneur brings healing, hope to Washington County – St George News

ST. GEORGE —With two rotator cuff injuries and the discovery of Reformer Pilates, a young St. George entrepreneur fought through the pandemic to bring healing and hope to Washington County.

Sheridan St. Claire, owner of Symmetry Pilates, smiles for the camera, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News
Sheridan St. Claire, owner of Symmetry Pilates, smiles for the camera, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News

When debilitating injuries sent her on a health journey, Sheridan St. Claire discovered that with the right tools and specialized training, it was possible for her body to heal without medical intervention. As her passion project turned into a business, she pushed through many harrowing roadblocks in order to share the same healing practices through her specialized boutique studio, which is now open to the public. 

St. Claire, a gymnast and dancer with a degree in exercise science, said she first taught gymnastics, which later led her down a path to personal training. As a personal trainer, she found herself with frequent injuries and realized she was in pain far more often than she felt healthy. The more injuries she received from lifting heavy weights, the more she realized she needed to make a change.

With weight training, St. Claire said many people believe they need to go to the gym and push their bodies as hard as they can for 30 minutes, with less focus on proper form. This type of training routine can easily result in injuries. She also said for some women, their bodies don’t respond well to a distressed situation like high-impact training, and it actually may have negative effects on hormones.

St. Claire said at one point, she struggled with almost no range of motion in both arms and discovered she had two rotator cuff injuries. Doctors said the injuries would require surgery if she wasn’t able to heal. As she began to search for a way to rehabilitate her injuries on her own, she discovered Pilates. Initially, she said it felt strange to do such low-impact workouts in comparison to the weight training she was used to. As she pushed forward and continued to do pilates, she started to see major changes in her body.

“It was so low impact,” St. Claire said. “I almost feel like I could do some of the moves forever. Then the next day I was super sore. It’s definitely not what you may initially think.”

Within three months of adopting Reformer Pilates, St. Claire said she went from barely being able to move her arms to a full range of motion, which allowed her to completely heal her injuries without surgery. On top of the quick recovery, she also realized she got the same, if not better, toning results that she got with weights, without putting her body into a stressful state.

St. Claire said the great thing about Reformer Pilates is that it teaches you to look at your overall body instead of one specific injury or area of pain. Back pain, for example, can often be caused by other issues, such as the hips or spine out of alignment. 

Sheridan St. Claire and others use a Reformer Pilates Machine, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News
Sheridan St. Claire and others use a Reformer Pilates Machine, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News

When she realized Pilates created changes in her overall health, St. Claire decided to head to California and complete a Reformer Pilates training course. Since there were no reformer pilates studios available in St. George at the time, she returned home and purchased a machine for herself. She felt inspired to share this special gift of healing with others, so she dived in, and over the course of two years, learned everything she needed to properly teach Reformer Pilates.

Excited and nervous about the opportunity to turn an idea into a business, St. Claire set out to open her own studio, Symmetry Pilates. She said while the fitness side came naturally to her, she had no idea how to start a business of her own. Through trial and error, she learned the ins and outs of business ownership. She joked that she is the owner, social media manager, plumber, electrician, and more, wearing many hats to fill whatever needs come up along the way.

St. Claire said she found the perfect location for the studio – inside the old Social Security Office in St. George – and signed the lease in January 2020. With plans to open right away, she found an instant roadblock when the studio build-out had not been completed in time. She then was forced to push the opening to February. But when February came, she became very ill (with what she believes was COVID-19), which forced her to push the opening date out yet another month. While still active in college at the time, she started to hear that many places may close down due to the pandemic, including her school. She decided, yet again, that it would not be the right time to open the studio.

“I was paying rent for nobody to be in here,” St. Claire said. “I was so stressed out. I waited and waited.”  

Sheridan St. Claire poses in her studio, St. George, Utah, May 31, 2022 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News
Sheridan St. Claire poses in her studio, St. George, Utah, May 31, 2022 | Photo by Jessi Bang, St. George News

By June 2020, with a little more freedom to socialize in Southern Utah, she felt it was finally time to open Symmetry Pilates. With the scare of the pandemic thick in the air, she said many people were happy to get their own reformer machines, which automatically spaced out each client during class. At this time the studio was very slow, with around one or two clients per day. She said those very clients still are some of her most loyal.

While the plan was to have full classes at that time, St. Claire said there weren’t enough people to do so. Instead, the classes automatically turned into private lessons, which allowed her to work one-on-one with each client. While it was a stressful time for the business, she cherishes those experiences with clients and the bond they created.

In February 2021, seven months after the soft opening, St. Claire said the studio started to take off. As the business continued to grow, she felt as if she could breathe easier and her hard work and perseverance was worth it. With the classes at Symmetry Pilates now at full capacity, she said she’s loved the opportunity to both introduce and teach something so dear to her heart.

“We’re to a point where we’re stable now, but the first year and a half was pretty scary,” St. Claire said. “We didn’t want to shut down or get shut down, but I kept pushing forward.” 

About Reformer Pilates

St. Claire said many people have generally heard of Pilates, a method started by Joseph Pilate, but not many know about Reformer Pilates. The reformer version of Pilates was initially created to rehabilitate injured soldiers in the military. Pilate made the reformer machine to allow soldiers that lost limbs in combat the ability to rehab specific parts of their bodies, such as one arm or one leg.

Sheridan St. Claire trains a client at Symmetry Pilates, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News
Sheridan St. Claire trains a client at Symmetry Pilates, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News

According to studiopilates.com, Reformer Pilates is similar, yet very different from mat-based Pilates. Reformer Pilates is done using the Pilates reformer machine and is generally more intense and more dynamic than mat-based Pilates with the added resistance to the Pilates exercises via the use of the springs, which form part of the machine. This type of exercise creates more variety in movement and works muscles through a large range of motion, which is ideal for building and toning muscles as well as increasing the stability of the joints.

“It’s very body-alignment oriented, spine-health oriented, so you’re not just working to look good, but to feel good,” St. Claire said.

While the exercises tone the body, St.Claire said it also allows for those with injuries or back pain to heal at the same time. From cardio to assisted stretching, she said Reformer Pilates can work for almost anyone in any stage of life. While many people start Pilates for various reasons, it has also been shown to help with mental health and overall well-being. 

Symmetry Pilates features traditional pilates with a modern twist, with the use of a few tools that Pilates didn’t use back when he first started the practice. The studio is considered a “fusion studio,” with a mixture of classic Pilate methods and regular functional training, which allows clients to receive full, balanced workouts. Class sizes of eight and four are available for both mat-Pilates and Reformer Pilates. With a mixture of both group and private training, there are currently five Reformer Pilates instructors and two yoga teachers at the studio. Symmetry Pilates also sells clothing in its studio along with an all-natural supplement line.

Sheridan St. Claire trains clients at Symmetry Pilates, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News
Sheridan St. Claire trains clients at Symmetry Pilates, St. George, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Sheridan St. Claire, St. George News

St. Claire said she’s excited that her studio will be the first host studio for BASI Pilates training, an international pilates facility based out of California. The BOSI training will take place in August of this year. She hopes to create more local teachers from the class, which would open up the possibility of expanding Symmetry Pilates to other areas throughout Washington County. For more information on the upcoming BASI training, click here.

“It’s hard as a business owner to acknowledge that you’re doing good and that you did make it past something difficult because every day you want to be bigger and better and your best,” St. Claire said.

St. Claire said she’s grateful she was able to keep her business afloat amongst the chaos of the last two years and showed her appreciation for all the clients, teachers and long-term relationships she has formed.

For more information on Symmetry Pilates, visit their website or follow them on Instagram and Facebook. The studio also offers a free, 30-minute intro class for anyone interested in trying the Pilates reformer machines.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

‘Pilates with a modern twist’: St. George entrepreneur brings healing, hope to Washington County

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