Widgets Magazine

Chatting Pilates' Healing Nature With Dot Raynor, of Dottie’s Pilates Plus in Cutchogue

Q: How did you get into Pilates? A: Well, being a personal trainer and fitness instructor more generally was a second, part-time career for me. After a car accident that hurt my back I got into Pilates. After retiring, I started being a Pilates instructor full time. I’m also a certified holistic health coach, and a Reiki master. So in addition to Pilates and personal training I can offer nutrition counseling and Reiki.

Q: What was your first career?

A: I am a certified medical assistant and managed a pulmonary practice when I got involved with fitness. I started working out with a colleague in Mattituck, and she encouraged me to get certified, so I did. I started teaching group fitness classes first. Pilates at that time was not a discipline that was easy to study or get certified in because it was tied up in the courts as a patent/trademark issue. Once the litigation was resolved it became available mainstream, and I got into it.

Q: What do you mean, tied up in litigation?

A: Pilates is named after the gentleman who invented it, Joseph H Pilates —the actual workout is called Contrology, which he developed in the early 1900's. After he died, one of his students tried to control the brand and the style of fitness practice, to be the sole teacher. Other students sued, and won the right to teach Pilates too. So Pilates went mainstream.

Q: So how did you go from certified fitness instructor to Pilates teacher? You mentioned a car accident…

A: Well, I learned Mat Pilates, and fell in love with it. I got certified and started teaching in the morning and evening before and after my full time job managing the pulmonary practice.

Then I got into a car accident. I hurt my back, I had herniated disks in my neck in back. I was always in pain. I was still teaching mat pilates, It helped me to keep moving, but l still had pain.

The pulmonary practice moved, and in the new location there was a physical therapist who had all the pilates apparatus, and I started working with her. After two sessions, I was pain free. That hooked me on the pilates apparatus, and I started working with her on a regular basis. It takes many many hours to get certified on the apparatus, so l took advantage of having this next door and got my hours in.

I left the pulmonary practice after 25 years and started the next chapter in my life. To open my own Pilates studio.

Q: Wow—it helped you get pain free that quickly? Sounds amazing.

A: Done properly, Pilates is amazing. What we do in Pilates is put the body back in balance. There’s a lot to it; it’s a very healing, holistic movement.

A lot of people who end up opening their own studios came to Pilates by healing from an injury. The workout is organized around six principles, such as breathing, centering, concentration, control, flow and precision.

Pilates is also really great for people who need help maintaining their balance and coordination.

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Q: What can someone expect who comes to your studio? How long have you had your studio?

A: I do private, semi private, and I offer classes. I also have other Pilates instructors who will teach a class or do a private session. Most people who come to my classes have been doing Pilates; if someone has never done Pilates before I encourage people to take a private lesson first so they can get a feel for it.

A mat class can be pretty strenuous, and while we will always modify the class if a newcomer joins us, they will probably get more out of the class if they take a private first. I don’t yet offer a pure beginner’s class. I may one day.

I’ve been where I am now for about a year and a half, following three years at North Fork Wellness, and before that out of my house. All in all I’ve probably been teaching Pilates 25 years now.

I’m going to be giving a talk on inflammation in the body at the Cutchogue Library in July. I’m also doing a pilates class there in June too.

Q: How did you come to the North Fork?

A: I grew up out here part time; I summered out here all my life. I was originally in Little Neck in Queens. My family moved out here full time in 1970, and I ended up graduating from Mattituck High School. I went to college locally. I’ve travelled a lot, but I’ve never lived full time anywhere else; why would I leave? I love it here too much to leave.

Q: Why do you love the North Fork so much?

A: It’s gorgeous here, we’re surrounded by water, the sound, bays, creeks, Laurel Lake. And the weather’s moderate, we have a wonderful farm community and people are welcoming and friendly. All in all the North Fork is just such a wonderful place. I’ve been all across the country, but there’s nothing quite like it.