Local Pilates studio celebrates 15th anniversary

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Featuring talk by award-winning journalist Rev. Liz Walker

Mind-body fitness expert Shelia Donovan, the owner of Shelia Donovan Pilates Studio, is celebrating her 15th year at the studio with a Client Appreciation Day Open House that will include free classes and a talk by Reverend Liz Walker. The open house will begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, October 28, at the studio, located at 847 Washington Street.

Shelia Donovan

Shelia Donovan

Donovan grew up in Virginia, where she fell in love with running. She has run 36 marathons and barely missed qualifying for the Olympic trials. Due to her running she developed plantar fasciitis, which is sharp pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel, and began taking yoga classes to relieve the discomfort. At about the same time, Donovan took her first Pilates class. She knew about Joseph Pilates and his work on the importance of developing a strong core, and wanted to remain injury free so that she could continue running.

“Running is my love,” she said. “I knew that I had to work my core. It’s all about the core, balancing the core. Mind-body fitness has done that for me. It complements the running.”

Donovan began teaching classes locally, but when the arrangement didn’t work out, it was her husband who came up with the idea of offering classes on the property where they live.

“Mike had a vision of having a studio,” she said. They had been renting some of the space in their large yellow home, but when a tenant passed away, Mike Donovan suggested using the rooms for classes. Shelia soon began offering group yoga and Pilates classes in a former living room and set up three Pilates Reformers in a former bedroom.

“In 2005 Mike had another vision,” Shelia said. That vision led to the addition of more classroom space.

Having her own studio has given Donovan the opportunity to share what she has learned with her clients, who have become friends and family. She especially enjoys teaching people who are open to learning as much as they can about the connection between the mind and the body.

“I can keep my passion going about mind-body fitness and train others about it,” she said. “It’s something that I love doing. I can do this seven days a week. I love to give and give.”

Donovan and her staff offer a variety of classes and training, including Gyrokinesis, yoga, TRX Training, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Reformer.

“I have this amazing, amazing team that has been with me and shared my passion for mind-body fitness and we continue growing as a family,” she said. “I love that about this studio.”

Donovan also has a strong client following and has worked with some clients for years.

“It’s a blessing that these people are still coming,” she said. “I never, ever take it for granted. I have so much gratitude and that’s why I want to do something different for the Client Appreciation.”

One of the studio’s longtime clients suggested that Donovan ask Liz Walker to be the speaker on October 28. In 1981, Walker began working as the evening news anchor with Jack Williams at WBZ-TV, winning two Emmy awards during her career. In 2001, she went to Sudan to report on the slave trade in that country. That experience changed her life and led her to attend Harvard Divinity School, and she is now the senior pastor of Roxbury Presbyterian Church.

“I have met Liz Walker and she was so nice,” Donovan said. “I love her story. She is inspiring to me. It’s going to be an amazing day.”

The open house schedule will begin with yoga with Donovan at 8 a.m., followed by an introduction to Pilates at 9 a.m., Gyrokinesis with Donovan at 9:15 a.m., and Tai Chi at 9:30 a.m. Liz Walker will speak at 11 a.m. The open house is free to all, but anyone who is interested in attending any or all parts of the day is asked to contact the studio at 781-821-4448 or email sheliadonovanpilates@gmail.com in order to register.

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