Monday, September 14, 2009

Interview with Jennifer De Luca, owner of BodyTonic

All about Fifth interviewed BodyTonic owner, Jennifer De Luca, about precision exercise and what ails (and cures) the modern body.

Q: Where are you from originally?

De Luca: I am originally from Bayside, Queens. I was introduced to Park Slope through my best friend at the High School for Performing Arts. She lived here then and lives here now. Our kids are best friends now. We each have 2 kids, 3 and 1 year old.

Q: When did you open your business and why did you choose Park Slope?

De Luca: I first started taking clients in my apartment in 1996 on Garfield Place and 7th Avenue. I had been living with a boyfriend, but traded him in for something more useful...Pilates equipment.

Q: What, exactly, is Pilates?

De Luca: Pilates is a form of exercise that requires your precision, control, centering, concentration, breathing, and flowing movement. Pilates is strength and stretch simultaneously. It is as challenging as any strength training out there and as kind to the body as a massage. It focuses on strengthening your core (abs and back) and lengthening the limbs away from that. It uses gravity as the primary form of resistance and spring tension on top of that. It changes the way people sit, stand, breathe, appear, and feel about themselves.

Q: I heard you have a dancer’s training—do you think there is an art to most forms of exercise?

De Luca: Only those worth studying.

Q: You see a lot of bodies in motion. What part of the modern-day body takes the greatest beating in contemporary life?

De Luca: Shoulder stabilization and lower back strength are a tie. Our humerus bones (upper arm bones) remain fixed now most of our day. To give an image—we are missing the days that grandma spent hanging the sheets on the high clothes line. The muscles that draw the humerus bone to the body are short and weak. I see a lot of shoulder problems. For the low back, no one wants to sit up properly and we are sitting much of the day. The integrity of the low back musculature (abs and erector spinae) goes and everyone wants to balance their entire upper body on 5 little lumbar vertebrea with no muscular support. There's a lot of disc pathology out there because of it.

Q: Are men and women equally drawn the Pilate's philosophy and form?

De Luca: Unfortunately no. I have had many male clients and they are always challenged physically and intellectually by the work. Joe Pilates was a man--a boxer and acrobat. He designed the work. More men should try it.

Q: Can you recommend a do-anywhere Pilates move for the busy urbanite?

De Luca: Yes, two of them. One is to sit tall in a chair like you are giving a speech. Place your hands on your hips, keeps your hips still and twist your shoulders to the right and then to the left. This works your oblique abdominals. Next just draw the navel to the spine and exhale through your mouth. Think of sucking in your gut as you exhale. This is a great transverse abdominal action.

Q: What are the greatest challenges of owning a small business?

De Luca: It's always on you and there are lots of organizations out there that protect customers and protect employees but very little assistance for small business owners. But I love what I do and look forward to going to work. I am inspired by my clients, my co-workers and Pilates every single day.

Interview by Rebeccah Welch

Note: BodyTonic is offering 10 weeks of Deals and Discounts leading up to a 10th Anniversary Party on November 1st. To hear about the deals, you can become a BodyTonic Pilates Fan on Facebook or follow BodyTonicBKLYN on Twitter. You can also sign up as a client at

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