Petite, passionate and painstakingly focused Lauren Steinke is addicted to detail. And that’s why the NYC-based Pilates instructor loves the proven modality. In turn, her clients love how she helps them find a super specific, aligned way to work correctly, efficiently and effectively.
The 30-year-old, originally from Long Beach, CA, first fell in love with meticulous, hard work through her time as a competitive gymnast and dancer. In college at Penn State University, she studied kinesiology, aiming for a job as a physical therapist. But soon, she realized she wanted to be a professional dancer, especially when she encountered more concert dance so different from the commercial options she saw at home in California; being able to integrate dance and kinesiology through a special program at her school, she also realized she wanted to teach movement versus work in a clinical setting as a PT.
And, around that time, on a whim, she took a Pilates class with her aunt in Pittsburgh. She immediately fell in love with it, and since she’d need a source of income to move to NY, she decided to go home to California to get certified in her new area of interest. Back in Long Beach, she earned her mat certification and comprehensive equipment certification through BASI Pilates at Cal State Long Beach.
When she moved to Gotham, she started teaching at Brooklyn Strength in Brooklyn Heights, along with a few other studios. It wasn’t long before clients were drawn toward her peppy, direct attitude, in-depth knowledge of alignment and focus on working intelligently. Now her schedule is bursting, totally packed with clients at Equinox and Chelsea Movements, as well as seeing private clients. Read on for more!
SBS: When did you decide to make the full leap from dancing to Pilates?
Lauren Steinke: I moved to NYC at 22, and I fell in love with the people in the Pilates industry. I decided I didn’t even want to dance anymore or deal with the stress of audition; being around people who love movement felt like enough.
I loved teaching so much.
SBS: When you first encountered Pilates what struck you about it?
LS: I loved that it was very structured, and it reminded me of gymnastics and ballet. I liked the attention to detail and how it asks you to do things precisely. When I took a mat class, I was sore in totally new places. I had always thought I was so strong and fit, and it surprised me to learn I wasn’t as efficient of a mover as I thought I was.
SBS: Now, what do you love about Pilates as a technique and about teaching it?
LS: It works for so many people because it’s so individualized. I can be a lot more hands on, especially with the equipment. And, I can give corrections based on what’s happening that day. If your lower back is hurting, we can do things specified for that.
I love teaching because I meet so many different people in that one-on-one way. I’ve had so many different types of clients, from bankers and teachers to actors and musicians. I love hearing about that diversity in what people do in their daily lives. And I can make sure they all always leave the Pilates studio feeling better.
SBS: What was your biggest challenge in your first few years of teaching?
LS: All of a sudden, I had a large set of male clients. Over 75 percent of my clients are male. But when I started teaching and during training, it was all female. When it came to talking about pelvic floor and learning how men carry weight, I had to rediscover anatomy that I hadn’t touched on in the first two years of teaching.
SBS: What style of Pilates do you teach?
LS: I’m not classically trained. My mat certification was very anatomically based, and the equipment certifcation was a bit more classical. But everything we did was still working with contemporary techniques like neutral spine instead of a tucked pelvis.
A lot of what we are doing is a classical exercise, like Elephant, but working in a more modern way that’s anatomically correct. That means not forcing the spine into a position that it shouldn’t be in.
SBS: What’s your teaching style?
LS: I’d call it personable. I also do have a lot of clients who come to me with injuries, post surgery, and that’s the kind of clients attracted to me. I think that’s because even though I know a lot about injury and rehab—and I focus on that—I still want to challenge people and push them to their limits. I want to show them what their body can do post-injury.
SBS: What tips do you have for clients who want to try Pilates post-injury?
LS: The biggest thing is to know the difference between work and pain. A sore muscle is not necessarily an injured muscle. People coming out of injury are terrified and afraid of injury. I help my clients work within the limits post-injury, but also push as far as we can so we can improve quicker.
Also, if you’re in pain, know that Pilates, in a way, is another form of PT.
It is a fitness technique, but we’re always working safe. We’re never going to put you in a place to increase injury. You should always feel better when you leave, not worse.
SBS: What should a client look for in a private Pilates instructor?
LS: Referrals are always the best way. And there are studios that have been around for 10-plus years, so that’s a good place to start.
Somebody who is not trained in anatomy very well is a red flag, as is someone who gives more ‘burn’ or fitness-oriented cues. Instead, they should be really taking the time to teach you what muscles work when and how.
Lauren’s NYC Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Goemon
Splurge Restaurant: 1 Or 8
Nightlife Spot: Sel Rose
Fun Activity: Going dancing anywhere in Bushwick (Brooklyn)
Calming Activity: Going to a soundbath at East River Pilates
Fitness Studio: Flywheel
Yoga Studio: Y7
Fitness Apparel: Athleta and Montiel
Fitness Shoes: Adidas
Online resources: Anything related to Eric Franklin and his anatomy work
Books: Anatomy Train by Thomas W. Myers
Lauren’s SBS Mantra Be Active. I am fortunate to live in NY, which is an active city,. And here, I’ve noticed, my healthiest, smartest clients are people who move every day, even if it’s just an hour of Pilates or walking 30 blocks to work. There’s a different brightness and energy about people that prioritize being active.
The best, zaniest part of being Lauren: My attention to detail: I try to focus on detail and not cheat through life. I try to do everything the best I can and to the fullest.