Marcia Polas — Alignment and Movement Educator | Occupational Pilates Teacher | Myofascial and Cranial Sacral Therapy


I discovered Pilates in Denver, Colorado, in 1999. I was hooked from my first class. Eight months and a serious car accident later, my physical therapist used Pilates to rehabilitate my back and neck. I was better but still had chronic pain. Two marketing jobs and two cities later, I walked into Pendleton Pilates in Cincinnati, Ohio. After six months of serious Pilates, I no longer had back pain and began Pendleton’s intense four-month teacher training program. My goal was simple, to become a better Pilates student. The result was finding my calling in life.

I taught at Pendleton for the next year as a “hobby” — and in 2004, left my 14-year marketing and communications career, to pursue my passion and teach Pilates full-time. After building a successful Pilates program within a country club, I opened the first incarnation of polaspilates in Columbus, Ohio. With the help of a loyal and dedicated group of clients, the studio succeeded and I learned much about running a small business, Pilates and myself.

Finding My Specialty
In 2006, I closed the studio and returned to Colorado to explore building a practice based on going to the client — allowing my focus to remain steady on teaching. The evolution of this has become a focus on occupation-specific work. This originated within the business world, but has expanded to bartenders, chefs, hair stylists, musicians, artists, dancers, and actors. Essentially, the focus is on awareness, alignment, and functional training as it relates to individual client needs. The work continues to grow with the development of occupation-specific videos, training fascial patterns, and movement re-education in the workplace while spreading the concept that it shouldn’t hurt to do a job you love.

In May 2015, I packed up my apparatus and hit the road. With a home base of NYC, my goal is to share this work with anyone who is  open to change.

I call myself an Occupational Pilates teacher. What does that made-up title mean? It means I work with clients based on how they use their bodies (“instruments”) to do their job. My areas of specialization include the hospitality industry pros (bartenders/baristas/chefs/FOH), performing artists (actors/dancers/musicians), the fashion/beauty industry (hairstylists, make-up artists, nail techs, stylists, photographers and fine artists, and movement professionals (Pilates and yoga teachers) — I’ll take on anyone with a physically rigorous job, including now the job of living in New York City!

Hospitality Industry Professionals
Working with clients in the hospitality industry began when I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007. As I learned how to eat again, and safely eat out, I built relationships with restaurant and bar teams throughout Denver. Watching them do their jobs, I naturally began to want to help them find ways to be effortless at work. My growing knowledge of myofascial release (MFR) techniques allowed me to get hands-on to release repetitive motion patterns gone wrong and begin to apply Pilates principles to retrain on the job movement. In 2014, I created  a workshop series “a body at work—the bartender series” as a method to begin sharing this work on a larger scale.

The hospitality work currently includes  workshops, MFR training, and on-the-job evaluation and re-education. To date I’ve been invited to present in the US and internationally at cocktail conferences, and am often contracted by brands who chose to address wellness and career longevity to bartenders world-wide.

Performing Artists
My work with performing artists focuses on partnering with the artist(s) to allow them access to their entire instrument. This includes myofascial-release (MFR) work and self-MFR training, instrument awareness, structural realignment, tension release, physical training to create good tension, breathing techniques, vocal integration, reverse training of character posture and choreography, and structural integrity within character. I work with individual actors, dancers, singers, and apprentices, and as a collaborator with directors and teachers of other disciplines when invited into studios, rehearsal rooms, and classrooms.

Prior to my move to New York City, you might have found me poking at artists, lecturing, and sometimes teaching a good old fashioned Pilates class in places like the University of Denver Department of Theatre, Lamont School of Music, Powerhouse Apprentice program, and the stage of Folger Theatre’s Richard III.

Currently I may be found racing in and out of Broadway stage doors, in rehearsal studios, on film or television sets, or even a tour bus or two to work with individual clients, and restaurants, bars,  Yoga studios, hair salons, and more for group workshops.

And Bunions
Since moving to New York, I’ve begun another entire subset of my practice. Collaborating with Pilates colleagues, I’m started taking on some clients as “just” realignment projects. In this area, I’m proving that a bunion can be remedied without surgery. It is exciting to offer a solution to this issue and unbelievably rewarding to work with these clients and kick some bunion ass!

Continuous Learning
I continue to train with master teachers in Pilates and other disciplines, to take workshops whenever possible, and to study bodies at work – always looking for the next piece of the puzzle that will reveal how we can make them stronger, more flexible and healthier – mind, body and spirit.

This has begun to include a strong focus on Cranial Sacral therapy – both the practice for my clients and training them to develop a self practice. I continue to explore the magic of Cranial Sacral therapy and am committed to growing that practice.

I look forward to learning if I’m the right teacher for you. — Marcia Polas

Photo courtesy of Zachary Andrews Photography