Joe Pilates would turn over in his grave if he could see what the current Pilates scene has become, with studios teaching everyone the same militaristic, cookie-cutter routine, cramming as many people into a class as economics dictate. But the intelligent body workers at Sheppard Method Pilates studio are refreshingly attuned to the individual, adjusting each workout to your body's condition on that particular day. Some of us put our stress into the shoulders, others into the jaw. It takes an astute Pilates instructor to see where you are and put you through the necessary paces. Many studios promise the quick fix. But founder Risa Sheppard and her team know that lasting change happens gradually. They work to strengthen the muscles around joints, and to increase range of motion. Sheppard, who trained under one of Joe Pilates' original disciples — Ron Fletcher, one of the last living Pilates “elders” — is a stickler for precision and optimal positioning and developing good habits. It's why doctors and physical therapists send patients to her. Sheppard's clients inevitably wind up with a stronger, more flexible body. Looking hot is just a nifty side effect. Sheppard Method Pilates, 2180 Westwood Blvd., #2B, Wstwd. (310) 470-2828,

—Gendy Alimurung

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