By Brigid Morrissey

Lindsey Winkler’s experience as a Pilates instructor is a great compliment to her Flamenco dancing.  She dances with a Fresian horse named Meindert at the World Horse Expo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Whether it’s a Flamenco dance with horses or her engagement to her Cuban fiancé, there is a connection between Pilates and almost every aspect of Lindsey Winkler’s life. Originally from northeast Ohio, Lindsey came to Louisville specifically for instructor training at Pilates Village. Lindsey had every intention of moving back home, but when job offers kept rolling in, she decided to make the move permanent. “There were too many opportunities here, and I love the city,” she says. “It hooked me.” Meeting her future husband here while salsa dancing didn’t hurt, either.

An extensive background in movement — she has trained in gymnastics, dance, and soccer — led her to become an instructor in the first place. Her modern dance professor in college implemented Pilates with the mat, and Lindsey saw the benefits of incorporating this exercise program into her daily life. “It keeps my body safe,” she says. “Growing up, I had knee troubles. My knee cap would slide out of place, and it caused a lot of injuries. Ever since I started doing Pilates, I haven’t had any knee troubles.”

So what is Pilates, exactly? “It’s like yoga in terms of mind and body,” Lindsey says. “Where it differs is in the machines used for assistance or to impose challenges.” A wide misconception is that Pilates is strictly about core work. “It’s head to toe,” Lindsey stresses. “It’s not just abdominals (although that is a major component), it’s a whole body integration.” The focus is on strengthening through simultaneous stretching and contracting movements, with emphasis on breathing, alignment, coordination, and balance.

More importantly, it’s a way for Lindsey to connect with people. She started as a Pilates instructor three years ago at Floyd Memorial Hospital and Bellarmine University. Her classes at the hospital are conducted in a studio next to the physical rehabilitation division. “It’s a hidden treasure,” she says. “Nobody knows we’re here. The pricing is reasonable and it’s a down-to-earth place. It really feels like a family because we’re all so close-knit.” Three years ago, she and partner Susie Stewart only led a couple of classes each week; now Lindsey works every weekday.

She gives private lessons as well. Her clients come in all shapes and sizes; there are men and women in all walks of life and with varying health conditions, including MS, osteoporosis, and scoliosis. “I’m helping people move safely,” Lindsey says. “They’re not being held back. Pilates meets you where your body is.” Here are some of the movements she does in her classes.

Lindsey’s relationships don’t only extend to people. Her brother-in-law, Julio Mendoza, is a world-renowned dressage rider and trainer, and Lindsey partners as his Flamenco dancer. Flamenco horse dancing originated in Spain and involves a horse and rider prancing and moving around a dancer on the ground. The dance emphasizes the complex training of the horse. Because of Pilates, Lindsey felt more centered in her riding and dancing, her movements more balanced.

In helping other people, Lindsey has also helped herself. “They come to class because they know they need it,” she says. And Lindsey knows she needs it, too.