When it comes to finding a place to workout in Los Angeles–the options can seem endless. So last time I visited the Hollywood Hills I knew I had to workout at one studio where you can train with one of the most unique (and knowledgeable) instructors in the industry, Nonna Gleyzer. Gleyzer is the founder of Body by Nonna, a Pilates Studio located on the Sunset Strip.
And even though the studio itself is slightly under the radar, the names that have walked through the studio doors over the past 20 years, are not. (Hello, Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady, Natalie Portman, Madonna, Emma Roberts, Vanessa Hudgens… just to name a few names).
Gleyzer (originally from the Ukraine) was a competitive gymnast for the Ukrainian national team before becoming injured, which forced her to end her career. She then earned a BA in Physiology and trained under Romana Kryonowka (aka the “Grand Dame of Pilates”) before beginning her own Pilates practice. Gleyzer specializes in preventative injury and rehabilitation, which is the foundation of her method and approach to the body. In fact, I would say that calling her a Pilates instructor doesn’t even do her justice since her knowledge of the body (and various other modalities including Chinese Medicine, Physiology, and energy work) is vast, to say to least.
My session with Gleyzer began with her telling me to lay down on my back and bring my knees to my chest so she could check my body alignment. She immediately saw that one of my hips was higher than the other, which told her that the range of motion in my hip flexors was limited and also my pelvic floor muscles were out of balance (the fact she could see this right away amazed me!). I’ve worked with so many trainers (in NYC, LA and beyond) and have never had anyone asses my body in this way before. It may sound strange to some, but I can tell this is what really set up my session for such a unique and custom approach to fitness.
She then worked on my feet for a few minutes (another Pilates method I had never seen before). When I asked Gleyzer why start with the feet, it’s because energetically speaking, the down to up is the correct order to work on the body. “That’s why when I train, I always start with the lower body and finish with the upper body, my theory is that everything in the Universe goes from down to up,” Gleyzer tells me.
From there we worked on stretching and working every muscle in my legs (from my calves to my inner and outer thighs, and also the quads and hamstrings.) Nonna executed every movement keeping in mind that I needed to work on the range of motion in my hips and counter the imbalances in the pelvic floor muscles.
We then moved back to another Pilates table where Gleyzer assisted me in upper body work where we worked on opening up my upper back and also stretched my neck. I’m not sure exactly how to replicate these moves without Glyzer, but let me say, if I could I would do them every day since I left feeling so much better than when I arrived.
“The reason I got into Pilates is because I have a chronic back issue that I’ve had since I was a child. Alignment, preventative injury practice and rehabilitation is such a big part of what I do. I believe you need to feel good to look good. And what’s the point of how you look if you don’t feel well?” Gleyzer says. It’s this exact approach that makes Gleyzer one of the most unique and sought after instructors in the industry. My only wish now is that I could have discovered her years ago.