Out On The Town With Erica Pinigis


Continuing our series of Instructor Insights, I stole Erica from the studio for a few minutes to grab some wonderful pictures and learn all of her best DIY secrets. We had the chance to chat about her Pilates training, all of her upcoming personal projects, and life in the Bay Area. She, like all of our instructors, has quite a busy life filled with wonderful insights about growing as a Pilates practitioner and instructor.

Where are you from originally and how did you end up in San Francisco?

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin then moved to Minneapolis, MN for college. After college my partner and I moved to the Bay Area in search of a bigger dance scene and better weather. Now we’re spoiled by everything the beautiful Bay Area has to offer!

How long have you been teaching Pilates?
I started teaching Pilates at Blue Sparrow Pilates a little over a year ago in the summer of 2013. Before that I had years of teaching dance to students of all ages under my belt, so being a teacher wasn’t such a big change, just what I was teaching.

What led you to begin your Pilates certification and why did you choose STOTT?
You, Holly, are the one who led me both to Pilates certification and the STOTT PILATES® method. I had done Pilates before, but never with so much clarity and thoughtfulness, and I didn’t know I would love it so much. I started right away with Mat training at Mills College where you teach in the spring semesters, and then got addicted so I continued my training at Blue Sparrow Pilates.

What is your favorite thing about being a Pilates instructor?
I love seeing people get stronger, more confident, and more aware of their bodies. Our bodies were made to move! So it feels really good to help my clients find a healthier, happier, more embodied life.

What’s your favorite thing about Blue Sparrow Pilates?
What isn’t my favorite thing about Blue Sparrow Pilates?! This studio is such a beautiful facility. It has the intimacy of a small studio, but the high quality equipment, props, and accessories of the biggest high end studios. I’m constantly inspired and delighted by the people I work with, both colleagues and clients.

Have you ever had any injuries that you turned to Pilates to help rehabilitate?
I developed an injury in my sacroiliac joint (the back of my pelvis where it meets the spine) in 2010. I couldn’t even lay on my back. That injury has never fully gone away, but over the past two years, working with Pilates has helped me understand what contributes to the pain coming back or getting worse and how to help prevent it from flaring up. I understand better now the limitations of my posture as it is currently and how to train to be my healthiest.

Do you have any hidden talents that we should know about?
I’m a crazy DIY-er. I’ve done everything from hand-make costumes, to carve stamps, to landscape my yard, to candy oranges, and more. I think I got it from my dad who taught himself to sew in order to replace his house’s thermal winter curtains and started his own temporary asbestos removal business just to change the siding on my brother’s house… he called his business “Asbestos I Can” (hahaha)

Now I’m going to ask you my favorite questions that new clients have to answer…Where do you see your health in 30 years?
In 30 years I see myself hiking through the mountains on some other continent. Slowly maybe, but still hiking mountains and teaching and making dances.

What was the hardest part of your Pilates training/certification program?
The hardest part for me is trying to grow in several ways at once. I want to constantly become a better instructor for the real life clients I have every day, but certification also requires that you’re able to teach with fully anatomical terms and in a very over-saturated way that wouldn’t work for everyday clients, so trying to do both can be disorienting.

How do you incorporate Pilates into your everyday life and how does your everyday life affect your Pilates work and instruction?
I’ve had some performances recently that have been very physically demanding for me, so apart from doing Pilates regularly to stay even and healthy, I like to add some exercises into my days that target the particular demands of the choreography that I’m learning. My co-workers are really great resources from helping me find just the right exercises.

Favorite way to de-stress and wind down?
Water and sun! I like to go to Muir Beach on empty afternoons and snooze in the sun to the sound of the ocean…if I have the time to make it out there…and if it’s not cold and cloudy…which isn’t often.

What’s your absolute favorite meal?
I miss my dad’s cooking so much! He was a professional french gourmet chef before he retired. When I’m home I like to request venison steaks wrapped in bacon that he cooks in cast iron with either a mushroom sauce or a current bourre-rouge (butter and red wine reduction sauce) with my mom’s herb bread and grilled potatoes with garlic chives, salad with pomegranate seeds in it, and some other seasonal veggie.

If you had a stage name, what would it be?
Erica Pinigis? People just might have a hard time pronouncing it

Sunset or sunrise?

Favorite movie?
It’s TV and not a movie, but “Poirot” is excellent!

Cat or dog? or other?
Nothing with hair, I’m allergic.

Favorite book?
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

What else do you want to tell us?!
I just launched my own dance company this winter. It’s called “Scratch Dance” (as in dances made from scratch) and will draw upon all of my DIY craziness.