Shelley Mockler, PT & Pilates Instructor at Rivercity Pilates.

Staff Spotlight: Shelley M

Staff Highlight: Jenny Fitzpatrick

(written by Jenny)

An Iowa native, I grew up riding my bike, playing on the jungle gym and running around my family acreage.  Movement is a part of my DNA!  In high school, I became a 4 year letter winner in softball and participated in a wide variety of other activities.  I headed to Iowa State intending to become a health teacher; but after sustaining a knee injury and receiving physical therapy, I decided to become a physical therapist. I graduated with a BS in Psychology and was accepted into graduate school at the University of Iowa obtaining an MPT in Physical Therapy.

After more surgeries, I found pilates in 2006 as a way to move with less difficulty and completed the Stott Pilates Rehab training. I bought a reformer for home and also started attending classes at Rivercity Pilates. With an interest in holistic health, I pursued certifications in Integrative health through the University of Arizona College of Medicine and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. With a focus in chronic pain, I became certified in Pain Neuroscience Education and joined a team in developing the Pediatric Chronic Pain program at UIHC. In continuing my journey in integrative health, I became certified through Duke University as a Health and Well Being Coach and completed a 200 hour yoga certification. 

Now as an integrative health specialist with over 30 years of experience in the health and wellness field, I utilize my background in pilates and yoga-incorporated rehabilitation, pain science, mindfulness, and holistic health & well being, combining all of these in a unique way for each individual.

I enjoy helping people feel better in their bodies by addressing the whole person. I partner with clients along their journeys in making sustainable changes to live the lives they desire. It is a natural fit to blend my curiosity with my background to assist clients who seek greater confidence and peace in leading healthier lifestyles.

For fun, I enjoy laughing with my husband and two grown sons, playing with movement, getting sunshine vitamin D at Lake MacBride and gulf beaches, reading, (at least a book a week!) and finding new recipes while listening to a great playlist. I have traveled our big world experiencing 49 states and 13 countries.

To me, wellness is not a quick fix, but a lifelong journey. I look forward to hearing your story, joining you on your journey and helping you find your way to feel amazing.

Get to know Kim, A Yoga Instructor at Rivercity Pilates (and Physical Therapist)

Tell us about yourself / your family.  I live in North Liberty with my husband, Chad, and our 3 kids, Isaac (9), Isabel (7), and Cole (3).  I work as a physical therapist in Coralville, at an outpatient orthopedic clinic.  We spend our days running between various kids’ activities or being outdoors. 

Describe yourself in 5 words.  Compassionate, energetic, inquisitive, dedicated, upbeat/positive

Tell us about your first Yoga experience.   When/Why did you start practicing Yoga?   My very first experience with yoga was with prenatal yoga.  I loved it but found the meditation and ending savasana very challenging for my Type A, busy mind.  I picked it up again seriously about 2 years ago and now meditation is my favorite part!  I’ve started listening to guided meditations with my kids at bedtime and they love it!  It’s a great way to end our days and connect with my kids in a relaxing and meaningful way.  

Favorite food / or favorite restaurant  There aren’t many foods that I dislike and I love trying new local restaurants but my favorite might be date nights with my husband, sharing maki rolls at local Japanese restaurants. 

If money were no object, what would you do all day?  Spend time outdoors by exploring local trails, travel to fun vacation spots and various National Parks, volunteer at my kids’ school, and cheer them on at their activities. And maybe a nap…

Why did you become a Yoga teacher?   I initially started my Yoga Teacher Training as a way to deepen my own yoga practice and  explore the idea of  holistic and mind/body approaches to wellness within my physical therapy practice.  I love participating in a challenging yoga practice followed by a calming meditation…the perfect combination!

Describe why you love Yoga in three words.    Movement, strength, calm

Would you rather hike or bike?  Hike, preferably to a waterfall…I love waterfalls!

If you could live anywhere in the world — where would you want to live?  Right here with my family, doing what we do…maybe with a vacation house in Colorado or Hawaii.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to Yoga? Movement, of course, is the keystone of my professional life and I’m always looking for new continuing education classes to keep learning!  I also love high intensity workouts and am continually analyzing my own form and movement patterns.  When I am tight or sore, I like trying to find just the right stretch to work out my aching muscles. My daughter participates in gymnastics and I could watch this all day long…I’m amazed at the physical strength and coordination of all the talented gymnasts. 

Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?  My husband.  And maybe a really smart Navy Seal or Boy Scout that would know how to help us survive and get us off the island. 

If you won an amazing prize, and the choice was either take an incredible vacation or get the dollar value in cash — which would you pick?  Dollar value in cash.  With 3 young kids in childcare, I’d have to make the practical choice.

Would you rather enjoy a houseboat or a speed boat?  Tough call, they both sound fabulous for different reasons!  

Do you have a guilty pleasure?    Something that is generally looked upon as wrong — but you keep doing it? Chocolate and naps…I do love a good afternoon nap!

If you could live in a book, TV Show or Movie – what would it be? Probably Friends…I’m on the shy side and I rely on my few really close friends to laugh at everyday situations with and I know I can always count on them.  I like feel-good shows where no matter what happens, they’ve got each others’ backs.  Or the show Psych because it’s just plain goofy and fun.

What animal best represents you and why?  Once when I was in college, my friends and I played this game and we picked animals for each other.  I was paired with a chocolate lab puppy.  :)  Not sure their reasoning, but I’ll take it! 

Do you have a pet peeve?  Incorrect grammar! The word Your does not equal you’re, as in you are.  Similarly, someone does not loose their phone, they lose it. 

Get to know Len!

Note from Carey: Prior to the 2020 pandemic, Rivercity Pilates clients raved about Len’s classes when he would spend a day as a guest instructor at our studio. When we started doing virtual classes during the Pandemic — I asked Len if he’d like to teach classes at Rivercity Pilates and was excited when he said yes! Len teaches our virtual Tuesday Beginner Pilates Mat and our Thursday Pilates for boomers classes! This Saturday, Len is teaching our #LiveBetter workshop this month — The Pilates Principles. This workshop is going to be a shortcut to more results for everyone who practices Pilates, whether you’ve taken 1 class or 100 classes!

We asked Len for permission to add a blog he wrote to our website about his Pilates journey. Here it is!

My biggest Pilates achievement is becoming a Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher at age 60.

They say that 50 is the new 40, but this wasn’t the case for me! When I turned 50, I began to notice signs of aging; stiffness, less flexibility, more aches and pains, not being able to do things I did when I was younger. I figured that if I felt this way at 50, what would life would be like at 70 or 80? My excuses for not exercising disappeared when a new fitness center opened where I worked. One day a personal trainer encouraged me to try a Pilates class. I entered the class reluctantly but left it feeling like I’d come home. I had discovered a way of exercising that felt right; for my body, mind and soul. I felt stronger, breathed deeper and stood taller. I had more energy and my flexibility improved. The stiffness I’d attributed to “getting older” had gone and I was more confident about maintaining a great quality of life. I soon developed a thirst to find out more about the Pilates method.

I found a local studio and delved even deeper into the Pilates world. The more Pilates classes I attended, the more I wanted to attend! I started thinking about teaching Pilates but didn’t know how I would be able to do the training and work full time. Sometimes, fate works in strange ways.

When outsourcing eliminated my corporate job I decided to take the plunge and join the training program. It consisted of 750 hours of instruction, workshops, observations, and student teaching, covering the mat and all apparatus. The instruction helped me understand the exercises and get them in my body. Observations exposed me to different instructors and their styles. Workshops deepened my understanding of the method and taught me proper cueing. Student teaching helped me practice my skills. Tests on Pilates principles, anatomy, and exercise order ensured comprehension. Practice classes provided feedback and the final exam, performing the entire advanced reformer series, was like a rite of passage.

Fifteen months later, at age 60, I became a Pilates instructor. Quite an amazing transformation! Now, I enjoy enabling my clients to realize their own transformation. Working with “Baby Boomers” like myself, I feel I am best able to relate to their particular needs and concerns. It has been an incredible journey.

This year I celebrated my 7 year teaching anniversary and have never been happier. Joseph Pilates taught until he died at age 86. Many of Joe’s original students, collectively known as the Pilates elders, taught into their 80’s and even 90’s. I look forward to teaching as long as I can.

To register for “The Pilates Principles”, click here!

So Excited About This

They say there’s a rainbow in every cloud, and although this shutdown has been hard, we’ve discovered some rainbows, and we were lucky enough to confirm another one yesterday. Here’s the formula for our newest rainbow.

Len Palombi is a friend of mine, and I learn from him every time I go to one of his classes. Len discovered Pilates as an older adult, which led him to become an instructor and specialize in Pilates for older adults and is the creator of Pilates for Boomers. In Len’s words, “After trying different fitness methods, I discovered Pilates and began an incredible transformation.  I’d love to help you achieve your own Pilates transformation.”

Our longtime clients may remember Len as a “visiting” instructor from the Chicago area. His restorative Pilates class was a hit with all who attended back in 2018, and now he’s going to teach it every week! Some of us will never forget his imagery as he leads the class – he is able to give examples that everyone can relate to!

Fun with Len after a worksop

Len is going to teach two classes every week which are described below. I took “Unlocking the Spine” via a video this week, and found it to be very effective at both making my back feel terrific, and helping me improve my mind-body connection as I listened and watch Len. This class is truly a testament to the Pilates method, as the movements were small and controlled throughout the class – yet afterwards I felt like I was moving better and had more energy! I hope you all will try both of Len’s classes!

Appropriate for all levels. No prerequisites required. This Mat class includes a gentle full body warm-up and basic Pilates exercises.  The focus is on breathing, gentle stretching and strengthening done at a slower, deliberate pace to provide a restorative workout.  Sign up for Virtual Restorative Pilates Mat.

Modifications will be offered to accommodate physical limitations and make the exercises accessible. This class is ideal for new students unsure of their skill level or physical abilities, older adults looking for a beneficial but lower intensity workout, as well as students looking to recover between higher intensity workouts.

Unlock Your Spine: Appropriate for all levels. No prerequisites required. This class is based on a movement method called undulation.  It consists of gentle, spine focused movements that re-hydrate connective tissue, restore muscle strength and joint mobility.  It’s gentle and accessible and a great complement to Pilates because it increases flexibility in a way that stretching cannot. Many people have practiced undulation to relieve neck, back, shoulder, muscle and joint pain – or simply to feel more limber. Sign up for Virtual Unlock Your Spine Class.

Denise — our Zumba Gold & Ballet for Fitness instructor!

Tell us about yourself / your family.  
I’m an Iowa girl. I grew up in Des Moines, moved to Manchester, where my husband Scott grew up, raised our 5 kids there, & just moved to Cedar Rapids.

I have 3 daughters & 2 sons. My oldest, Jessica, is an ASL interpreter fit the Cedar Rapids Schools. My daughter Amanda lives in Tampa, Florida, where she is s branch manager for one of the libraries. My daughter Meghan is a graphic designer who has duel citizenship in Israel & the U.S. She lives in Rishon Letzion Israel with her husband Shay & our grandson Rahmi. My two boys, Jordan & Cameron Live in Chicago. Jordan is a manager at a restaurant, Cam’s day job is in claims, but he is in a band that has been together for many years. They are getting ready to release their 5th cd.

Describe yourself in 5 words.  
Creative, caring, open minded, loyal

Tell us about your first Zumba experience.    
I started Zumba when the DVD’s came out years ago. Loved it! I’m a dancer/dance instructor, so the format just spoke to me

When/Why did you start practicing Zumba?  
As I mentioned above, I love to dance! I like that it’s based on Latin rythms, with a bit of hip hop, oldies, & world music in the mix.   I started with dvds, then live classes.

Favorite food / or favorite restaurant
Oh my gosh, I love lots of different foods & restaurants. I like trying new cuisines.   I love recipes passed down from my grandmas, so Mexican & Jewish food.

If money were no object, what would you do all day?  
Well, I’d still teach group fitness. I’d also teach dance classes for free/non profit for those who can’t afford class.    Then I’d travel!!

Why did you become a Zumba/fitness teacher?   
Because I love dance fitness, &  love to work with others to get/stay fit.

Describe why you love Zumba ( or dance) in three words.    
Fun, Fitness, Positivity

What are your favorite ways to incorporate movement into your life in addition to dance/fitness?    
I love working with free weights. Since I teach lots of cardio, I do weight training workouts whenever possible.