By Dan Mankin
Point Reyes Pilates instructor Maria Mankin started out with an idea to help her aging mother and ended up inventing and patenting a chair that can be used both for the office and for exercising—the Begin Chair™. Begin Chair, the only portable ball chair available with comfortable lumbar support that adjusts to the spine’s natural curves, is now being produced and sold through Balanced Body®, the leading source of mindful movement equipment, information and education.
Like many older individuals, Mankin’s mother Lina found it difficult to get up out of a chair and was unable to lie on the ground to exercise, and Mankin wanted to find a way to help her develop her core muscles to increase her well being and independence. Drawing on her background as a Pilates instructor, circus performer and creative artist, Maria created the Begin Chair, a portable ball chair that promotes healthy posture and provides the right amount of instability to activate core muscles.
According to one of Maria’s client’s Lorraine Almeida, “I found that the chair allowed me to begin exercise and strengthening, when it was difficult to exercise standing or on the floor. I used to get out of breath quickly before the chair was used.”
As Maria began testing the Begin Chair with older adults, she soon discovered wider applications, including use as an office chair. “With increasing concerns about the health risks of sitting for hours on end, this is a great time to start sitting smarter at the office and at home,” said Mankin. “My chair is designed to help.” Studies show that sitting for long periods of time is linked to an increased risk of obesity and of dying from ailments such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The Begin Chair is a stylish, portable ball chair that comes with or without wheels, depending on whether is to be used as an office chair or exercise chair. It is made in the United States and available through Sacramento-based Balanced Body® (www.balancedbody.com), the world’s largest Pilates equipment manufacturing company. The chair is currently for sale in 106 countries.
Maria Mankin is the owner and operator of the Begin Pilates studio (www.beginpilates.com) in Point Reyes. Born and raised in Catania, Sicily, Mankin moved to the United States in 1983. She has more than 30 years of experience in bodywork and movement, from coaching soccer teams to walking the slack rope in the circus ring. A Pilates instructor for the past 15 years, she draws on her diverse background in circus arts, acrobatics, the Feldenkrais technique, the Franklin method, and a Stott Pilates certification to create a thoughtful and engaging practice for her students.
Begin Pilates is located in the Livery Building in Point Reyes and information about classes can be found at www.beginpilates.com and the phone number is 415-663-9303.
The Begin Chair can be purchased on line from Balanced Body: