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Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Tresa Meussling, a Pilates instructor and owner of Pure Movement, keeps an eye on Annie Noland Henry’s form as she works out on the CoreAlign.
what’s your workout

Boost strength with Pilates

Meussling assists Noland Henry’s form through another exercise on an apparatus at the downtown studio.

Annie Noland Henry is sporting a pair of chic black-and-blue capris and a water bottle when she walks into Pure Movement Pilates Studio.

But when she walks out, it’s a feeling of being more open, looser and taller that she notices.

While the height might not be measurable, the Fort Wayne woman has had positive results since she began practicing Pilates at the downtown studio, 526 W. Jefferson Blvd.

“I have core strength that I’ve never had before,” says Noland Henry, 39. “Overall, I am more toned and stronger than I’ve ever been.”

She was first attracted to Pilates after using a reformer during physical therapy for a knee injury and learned that it would be a great way to improve core strength.

“After having two babies 18 months apart, I had absolutely no core strength,” says the mom of a 2 1/2 -year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. “I had a condition called Diastasis Recti where there’s a separation in your abdominal wall. I knew that traditional crunches could make it worse.”

Noland Henry says that she started practicing in February and it took about six weeks to see improvements in the abdominal wall.

“I’m not sure there were any specific exercises that I did,” she says. “I just think Pilates as a whole really helped to ‘stitch’ me back together.”

Workout: Pilates

What is it?: According to the Pure Movement website, Pilates is “a system of movement developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1900s.” A series of about 500 movements are either performed on a mat or specially designed equipment to build strength and flexibility.

Practice: Noland Henry meets with Tresa Meussling twice a week for hourlong, private sessions. The workouts incorporate the entire body, but as there are seven to eight pieces of apparatus, 20 to 30 props and thousands of exercises, Meussling says no two sessions will be the same.

Benefits: In addition to improved core strength, Noland Henry has seen improved flexibility, including in her upper spine.

She also says that working with an instructor in a private setting allows her to get the most out of the hour.

“Tresa and the machines help keep you honest and give you a harder workout,” she says.

Cross training: Noland Henry likes to run three or four times a week, about 3 miles each jaunt.

“In the winter I slog it out on the treadmill,” she says. “Sometimes if my knee is bothering me I’ll do the elliptical machine instead.”

Best dressed: While one could wear just about anything for a session, Noland Henry prefers form-fitting clothing – you want to make sure pants “aren’t flopping around when your feet are up in the air.”

Meussling adds that tighter clothing is preferred as it allows instructors to get a better view of movement lines.

Unless it’s cold out, the one thing Noland Henry won’t be found wearing is socks. Going barefoot helps her to grip a little better when on an apparatus.

Advice for beginners: Noland Henry advises people to try a group class or session to see whether it’s a good fit. “And just stick with it, you will see results!”

Cost: Pure Movement sessions vary in cost from $37 to $69, and an apparatus class is $32. Packages are available for classes, group sessions and private lessons.