Discover a Former Sicilian Circus Performer's Specialized Pilates Method

Northeast Portland's new Begin Pilates studio makes Pilates accessible for any age level.

By Sylvia Randall-Muñoz January 11, 2016

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Maria Mankin of Begin Pilates.

Talk about a devoted daughter! Former Sicilian circus performer-turned-Pilates innovator Maria Mankin initially developed the Grace Pilates Method to improve her aging mother’s range of motion. Maria and husband Danny Mankin opened their first Begin Pilates location in Point Reyes Station, California, five years ago.  The pair met during their time in the circus—Danny was a juggler, and Maria a slack-rope walker. The couple sought a city life, and recently moved to Northeast Portland. 

Maria laments the traditional perception of Pilates as exclusive, accessible only to the wealthy, young, and fit.  The Grace Method, named after the desire to "age gracefully," is instead a sustainable lifestyle method consisting of gentle movement with specific alterations for individual needs. The main principles of traditional Pilates practice—stability, core strength, and range of motion—are all integral aspects of a healthy lifestyle for any person, regardless of gender, age, or physical fitness level. 

Danny studied senior yoga with Kimberly Carson, a yoga and health educator at OHSU, and Maria says he'll lead the studio's meditative yin yoga, as well as more traditional forms. Maria’s tools including the Begin Chair, Pilates-reformers, and spring walls, which allow for gentle movement and isolation of key muscles.  The studio, located on a largely residential stretch of NE Fremont St, is clean and spacious, with natural illumination by skylight.

Maria notes: “For us, Begin Pilates is an invitation for everyone to start Pilates.  ‘Begin to love your core’ is our motto, the inside layer of your muscles, through this you can develop your body in alignment to restore posture, and wellbeing.” She concludes that “exercising the core connects the body and the mind,” something Portlanders can experience firsthand at Begin Pilates' grand opening party on Thursday, January 21. Swing by the studio between 5–8pm for food, drink, interactive demos, live music, and prizes galore. 

Begin Pilates
2393 NE Fremont St.

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