How To Use Movement To Better Connect To Your Body (and Yourself), According to a Pilates Instructor

Photo: Nike Well Collective & W+G Creative
Want to hear a sad (though probably not shocking) stat? According to the National Organization of Women, 62 percent of women say they're not happy with their bodies. Now ready for something more encouraging? If you count yourself among that 62 percent, you don’t have to stay there—Amanda Tran, owner of private Pilates studio Let's Transform and a Nike Well Collective trainer, is proof.

During her 20-year journey as a classically trained dancer, Tran developed body dysmorphia that made her feel disconnected from her body and overly critical about identifying ways to "improve" it. But all of that started to change when she realized how unhealthy her relationship with dance had become, and she left it behind in favor of her newly discovered love for Pilates.

"When I transitioned to the world of fitness, I started to develop a healthier mindset about why I work out, how it made me feel, and how I found inner strength and confidence within myself," Tran says.

Now, Tran is dedicated to teaching that mindset to her Pilates students and creating a more supportive, healthier space within her community—and that's why she's totally here for the feel-good fitness revolution that's all about moving in the way that works best for your body.

Tran is a big fan of this approach to fitness and well-being, and credits her Pilates practice with teaching her self love and compassion for her body. "Fitness should not be seen as the pursuit of the perfect body, but rather as a journey of self-discovery and empowerment," she says. "If we’re fixated on a certain look, it creates an unhealthy relationship with our bodies and we will never be satisfied with ourselves. Once you shift your mindset to how you feel, you can get to understand yourself better, learn to fall in love with yourself, and see that as an investment in your future self."

Ready to join the exercise-because-you-want-to movement? Then take Tran's advice by prioritizing feeling good—and then put that inner confidence on display with some of her favorite Pilates outfits to help fire up your future workouts.

Shop Pilates Essentials

Nike Zenvy Women's Gentle-Support High-Waisted 8" Biker Shorts — $60.00

If you’ve ever seen or participated in a Pilates class, you know that having the ability to move your body unimpeded is of the utmost importance—that’s why Tran reaches for anything in the Nike Zenvy line before a particularly hard class. “It feels like I’m wearing nothing, and I feel like I’m completely free to move however I need, and totally ready for whatever the workout has in store for me,” Tran says.

Nike Swoosh Medium Support Women's Padded Sports Bra — $40.00

Tran’s preferred form of exercise is sweating and shaking it out on the reformer (the Pilates shakes are real, y’all)—but an ill-fitting sports bra can be a nuisance, no matter how much you love your modality of choice. That’s why this uber-supportive one is a go-to for when the reformer is calling her name.

Nike Sportswear Phoenix Fleece Women's Over-Oversized Pullover Hoodie — $75.00

On days when Tran is feeling down, she’ll turn to breathwork and stretching to get out of her head before starting Pilates. “Movement is my therapy, and it’s important to take the time to get myself in the right headspace before I start,” she says. To keep her muscles warm while she powers up for a workout, she throws on this comfy, oversized hoodie. Turns out, it’s a bigger inner struggle to take the cozy hoodie off than it is to start her Pilates routine.

Nike Sportswear Phoenix Fleece Women's High-Waisted Wide-Leg Sweatpants — $70.00

Recovery is an important part of keeping your body healthy—and Tran grabs these sweatpants (paired with the Phoenix hoodie, of course) when she needs to take a break. “After a tough Pilates workout, I want something comfortable and relaxed to lounge or nap in, and the Phoenix set is my go-to,” she says. (Psst: one of our editors whole-heartedly agrees.) The fact that the set is so chic is just an added bonus.

Nike Motiva Women's Walking Shoes — $110.00

With all the go-go-going that comes with owning a Pilates studio, sometimes Tran needs to take some time to re-center. One way she prioritizes unwind time is by connecting with her community, whether that’s on a walk with a friend (where she’ll don her Nike Motiva walking shoes) or a meetup with other Nike Well Collective trainers.

Being part of a community lets us learn from others, share experiences, and celebrate successes, which makes life richer,” she says. “When times get tough, having supportive people around can give us the push we need to keep going.” Supportive community, check. Supportive shoes, double check.

Nike Sportswear Chill Knit Women's Slim Full-Zip Ribbed Cardigan — $80.00

Being a Pilates studio owner is more than just teaching classes—it also means taking business calls, talking with potential clients, and making engaging social content. When Tran wants to look more luxe than her usual workout set, she grabs this stylish-yet-comfortable cardigan for a more professional getup—so she knows she looks good and feels confident.

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