Steve Blackmer - October 2016


"Pilates gives me the foundation for a high level of fitness that allows me to stay active outdoors and take part in my favorite activities as long as I possibly can."


Steve has been practicing with us for the past three years. His father - now 87 and still practicing Pilates - inspired him to try it as well. His mother who used to be a dancer had discovered Pilates already in the 1960s or 70s, during a time when Joseph Pilates was still alive. Since he was a child, Steve had always spent much time outside. He enjoys cross-country skiing, hiking, biking, and canoeing. He’s a true outdoor person, being happiest in nature. The older he’s gotten, the more he realized the importance of having a physical practice that would help him stay as fit, strong and healthy as he could, so that he could keep going for as long as possible.

“From the time I turned 40, I realized I’m not going to stay fit without a good physical foundation. Luckily, I hadn’t had much trouble with injuries in the past, but I noticed I was slower up the mountain, and long days of skiing would take more out of me than before. I also noticed I’ve become less flexible, and lost some strength. I guess it’s part of the natural aging process, but I want to keep a high level of fitness as long as I can.

Doing my favorite activities outside are incredibly important to me. That’s my motivation to go inside (the studio) and work on maintaining my fitness level. I hate going to the gym. I was never able to stick with it for more than a few visits. I don’t enjoy the gym atmosphere, the noise, the TVs everywhere and music blaring. Even more, though, I didn’t have the confidence that it would actually be good for the whole person. It’s easy to strengthen a muscle here and there, but I noticed many people getting injured or developing only a few muscles, instead of supporting the whole body.  I have no need for cardio machines, I get my aerobic exercise much better (and more joyfully) outside.

Pilates is the only indoor exercise I’ve ever stuck with, and is so much more fun than the gym. The combination of stretching as well as strengthening that Pilates provides seems most beneficial to me. With the work on the core, Pilates provides a platform to make everything else work better.

Mara is a great teacher and fun to be around, which makes a big difference. I came away from the first few classes and my body was buzzing with a kind of aliveness that I hadn’t experienced before. It’s hard work, but I come away refreshed rather than exhausted.

I noticed especially with cross-country skiing, that the core strength I had developed made a big difference. I took part in a long two-day skiing event last year, skiing 85 km in a single day. I wasn’t sure I would manage it, but I did. It was a great personal success. It’s one thing to do that when you’re 40, but a different thing altogether when you’re 60. I want to go back this winter to see if I can do it again.

Pilates recognizes that you’re more than just a machine. It works to bring well-being to the whole person, mind, body and spirit, but it starts with the body, and that really works for me.  This way I can still honor my own spiritual practice.”

Learn more about Steve and the Church of the Woods here:

“I’ve founded this outdoor church in 2014 as a way to honor my Christian faith in a way that allows me to be physically active. Spiritual life shouldn’t be isolated from the outdoors and from our bodies. I don’t enjoy sitting in a “box” (a regular church). Church of the Woods enables me to be outdoors, in the body of the world, while still being true to the Christian tradition and practicing my faith.

Long before I went to divinity school, I used to say , "my church is in the woods or up in the mountains.” Now that’s true even more. It’s where my spiritual and contemplative life has always been at home. So I’ve decided to establish that and create a spiritual community around that.

I welcome anyone to join us Sundays at 9am or 3pm for our weekly service.”

Mara Sievers