A Flexible Place to Flex

Posted on 20 June 2014


Hayley Thorpe gives Lee Ann Bulgin some Pilates pointers. Photo by Genevieve Kotz

By Genevieve Kotz

Stepping into the Norma Jean Pilates studio feels more like stepping into someone’s home.

“Fitness is only one part of our holistic approach to living,” Hayley Thorpe, who founded the studio, said. “And now it’s become something of a home.”

The studio, which is located on Main Street in Sag Harbor, opens for business on Saturday, June 21, with a grand opening from 6 to 8 p.m.

Nestled in a space next to the Sag Harbor Liquor Store, the studio boasts two group studio rooms and a private studio. The first group studio, which has a fireplace and overlooks Main Street, is for mat classes. The second group studio, which is bright and cheery, has six reformer machines. The private studio is quiet and peaceful, equipped with a classic reformer of Joseph Pilates’s original design. One of its benefits is that it is easily accessible for those who are injured or in a wheelchair.

“Most people are unaware of the fact that Pilates is a form of rehab,” Ms. Thorpe noted.

Ms. Thorpe herself first discovered Pilates after a physician suggested she try it out while recovering from a back injury in 2008. She instantly fell in love and immersed herself in the practice. She quickly began to teach lessons, both privately and in other gyms, but knew she had to open her own studio.

Norma Jean Pilates offers several group mat and reformer classes, as well as private sessions. Group classes are either 30 minutes or an hour long. There is a limit to six students to a class, to ensure that each instructor can adequately watch and assist each student. The classes welcome customers of all levels of fitness, since each of the six instructors are trained to be able to teach beginners along with more advanced clients.

“Pilates is a method that can be moderate or challenging. It welcomes all levels of fitness.” Ms. Thorpe said. “This is a safe place to get better, to start to become your best.”

The 60-minute classes are $40 and the 30-minute classes are $20. Customers can also buy group packages of 10 classes, which are $180 for 30-minute classes and $240 for the hour-long sessions, or a three-month unlimited pack, which runs $240 for 30-minute classes and $1,150 for the 60-minute classes. Private lessons are available for $110, but packs of five or 10 classes are also available.

The schedule for group classes will be available on the studio’s website, www.normajeanpilates.com, or by e-mail. Clients can call or e-mail to book a spot for a group or private lesson.

Norma Jean Pilates will not only offer Pilates classes, though. Ms. Thorpe also plans to install a ballet bar into each studio, so that ballet and dance classes can be taught. She also plans to offer art and French and Spanish classes, with two instructors per language so that those interested will not be restricted by different learning styles.

The studio will also be a space to share and collaborate with other ventures in this area, such as trunk shows, art shows, or other events.

Ms. Thorpe, who is the daughter of Barbara and Brian Schmitz, who own the Sag Harbor Liquor Store, was born and raised in Sag Harbor. She said she is proud to live in and support the community with her business and has recently joined the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s beautiful, it’s safe, it’s charming,” Ms. Thorpe said of Sag Harbor. Just like the studio.


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