Pilates in Paradise

By Kathy McCann | share

Aloha, my name is Kathy McCann. I am a Certified Pilates Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Lifestyle Fitness Consultant with over 20 years of experience in the fitness/wellness field. I teach Pilates Reformer and mat classes at Kapalua Spa, which has been recognized in the 2012 World Luxury Spa Awards™ as the “Best Luxury Spa Destination in the United States of America.” It is located at Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii. I have worked at wonderful resorts, but Kapalua Spa exceeds them all by far and I am so fortunate to be a part of this experience. I teach Pilates mat classes and yoga in an open-air studio gazing out at the blue Pacific Ocean.

One of my biggest challenges is teaching for our fulltime members and visitors that come and go. You never know who is going to show up to a class. There might be a marathon runner, a pregnant lady, and someone who has never exercised before. I try to keep the classes challenging enough for the regulars while catering to the beginners so they won’t be turned off to Pilates. One of my pet peeves as an instructor is when someone says they don’t like Pilates because it was too hard since no one took the time to teach them properly. My training with the PhysicalMind Institute has given me the knowledge needed to master the skills of teaching variations and modifications. I find that just about everyone can do any exercise with the right coaching.

Fitness in Hawaii is a big business and cross training with Pilates can enhance anyone’s sport performance. Many of my clients come to me with past injuries and Pilates has helped them regain their strength and range of motion (ROM), getting them back in action. Shoulder girdle injuries are common place because of all the surfing, canoe paddling, golf, and tennis. I completed the Pilates and golf course and I am pleased to report that the exercise protocols have helped my clients improve their golf games and flexibility. I specialize in pre or post-hab exercises (after my own hip replacement surgery 7 years ago), releasing the shoulder girdle, and golf conditioning.

Two of my clients, a husband and wife, are both golfers but have very different needs. The husband started coming to my mat classes at Kapalua Spa because he heard that Pilates was good for golfers. He became a very dedicated student and eventually he wanted to try working on the reformer. He fell in love with the work because it made him feel good and improved his flexibility and core strength, essential in the game of golf. His wife had been dealing with a lot of knee pain and is currently waiting to have a knee replacement. We have been doing very gentle closed chain range of motion exercises and stretching to keep her as comfortable as possible, emphasizing TheMethod Pilates fundamental work and pre-surgery exercises prescribed by her physician. She is really looking forward to us working together once she has been cleared for exercise to help her get back to her active lifestyle as quickly as possible.

I have included a sample session I used specifically for his golf program:

Fletcher Towel work, anterior & posterior ROM & rotation (can also be done with a golf club during the game to reinforce shoulder stability as well as mobility)
Footwork & Single Leg Footwork on foam roller
Supine Arm Circles
100’s Prep
Frog w/ straddle (don’t move carriage on straddle as you extend knees)
Leg Circles
Eve’s Lunge with rotation as you return carriage
Long Box Pulling Straps
Back rowing prep w/ rotation, open/close arms (carriage doesn’t move during arm extension)
Golf Series from PhysicalMind Institute handbook Golf and Pilates
Superman, extend opposite arm and leg (spinal balance)
Kneeling Twist- Chest Expansion
Standing Saw
Side arm kneeling series
External rotation with straight arm
Draw the sword or backstroke
Bus Driver or rotation w/ power circle
Side splits series (add swing positions)
Mermaid Series

Another client I have been working with consistently for about 5 years was diagnosed with MS in the early 80’s. When I first started working with him his posture was distorted because of weakness in his legs and his upper body was hyper-kyphotic, bulging disc in L 4 & 5, and he had scoliosis. Through the use of TheMethod Pilates he has been able to improve his core strength and he no longer suffers from lower back pain. The Fletcher Towel work has greatly improved his posture; his shoulders are down and the kyphosis is gone. His scoliosis has improved immensely; he now only has a C curve instead of an S. His legs are still weak due to the nature of the neurological illness but he continues to do foot work on the Wunda chair and leg springs on the Cadillac with assistance to keep muscle tone in his legs. We do extension exercises on the foam roller and the Cadillac with the push-through bar that are very beneficial for his kyphosis. He works very hard and it always makes my heart glad when he tells me how much I have been able to help him through Pilates.


Kathy McCann is a PhysicalMind Certified Pilates Trainer in Maui, Hawaii and has been in fitness since 1992. She obtained a position with Princess Cruises as Fitness Director from 1994 – 1999 where her responsibilities included organizing and implementing the onboard fitness program for over 2,000 guests of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Her love of Pilates began in 1999 after she suffered multiple overuse injuries and chronic pain became an issue. In 2000 she moved to Austin, Texas and worked at Vim Pilates Studio as a student teacher while studying for her Pilates Certification. Kathy received her Pilates training and certification in TheMethod Pilates at a PhysicalMind Institute training studio from 2000– 2002. Upon completing her Pilates certification, Kathy moved back to Maui, where she opened Pilates in Paradise. Kathy is currently working as a Pilates trainer and lifestyle fitness coach, teaching Pilates mat and equipment sessions, Restorative Yoga, and Aqua Aerobics at Kapalua Spa, Pilates in Paradise, and Body in Balance.