OAKLAND -- Pilates 580 will celebrate its grand opening on Sunday in Montclair Village.

Pilates is a body conditioning method, performed on a mat or a variety of apparatus, designed to build strength without bulk, improve flexibility and agility, and help prevent injuries, by focusing on building a strong core.

Owner Laura Sefchovich Perets may be new to Montclair but she is not new to the field of Pilates. Perets has been teaching the program for 15 years and has been running her own studio for nearly a decade.

Perets first studio was Glenview Pilates, which she opened in 2005, before relocating to Harrison and MacArthur Boulevard in 2006. Since it was right off the freeway, she renamed it Pilates 580.

"I love this community. I wanted a location with lots of action," said Perets, recalling when she decided to move to Montclair in October.

Located at 1955 Mountain Blvd, Suite 103, above the Bank of America, Perets' studio is outfitted with state-of-the-art Pilates equipment, offering private, duet and group classes on the tower, reformer, Cadillac and mat. Perets teaches classical Pilates.

"I don't think the method needs to be changed," she said. "I try to keep it as real as possible."

"Pilates works in a methodical manner," Perets said. "It is a natural cross-training tool for athletes. I think it's a smart way to exercise. It works on coordination, balance, strength, flexibility and focus.

"Each client is different. We offer personalized instruction within a classical system," Perets said. With an average class size of six, everyone gets personal attention.

There are six teachers offering instruction in Pilates and yoga at Pilates 580. Private lessons begin at $80, while group lessons run $25 a class. Discounted packages are available. While it's best to make an appointment, walk-ins are accepted if space is available.

Perets discovered Pilates to alleviate her own back pain. She had a 16-year professional career as a ballet, jazz, and modern dancer, and maintains close ties with the dance world today.

Pilates has been popular among dancers for years before its popularity with the general public. Perets began taking classes before and after rehearsal to keep her back healthy. One of her instructors encouraged her to begin teaching herself.

"This is my passion and family," she said. "I love working with people. I love that people come in here cranky and leave happy. I love that they come in here sore and leave feeling great. I love when they do things they thought they would never do again, and leave feeling successful. It's easier to face the challenges of life when you feel stronger and confident."

The Pilates system of exercise was created by Joseph Pilates, a German national who immigrated to England in 1912 and worked as a self -defense instructor for detectives at Scotland Yard. Along with other German nationals, he was interned during World War I. It was during his internment that he developed for injured soldiers, many of them bedridden.

Ephraim Greenwall was initially skeptical to try Pilates.

"Men think that Pilates is a girly thing but it's very challenging to master," he said. "It's mentally and physically challenging. The process is about opening muscles and stretching tendons in a healthy way. I've gotten stronger and more flexible. It's a very compact workout in a very limited time.

"Laura is an outstanding teacher she is all business. Anything that is off, she has a way of making me understand how to make the correction," he continued. "All the trainers are highly professional and understand human anatomy to the level of physical therapist. They can work with all different kinds of people, and I am tough."

FYI
For more information about Pilates 580, go to www.pilates580.com or call 510 338-3932. The Pilates 580 grand opening will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.