A Passion for Pilates

by Tim Froberg

Courtney Holcomb chose her profession because she wanted to make the impossible possible for people struggling to make simple movements.

She feels a sense of accomplishment whenever she sees clients once hampered by mobility issues moving effortlessly and pain-free.

Holcomb is the owner and primary instructor of Waveforms Pilates, an exercise studio in Neenah. The business, in operation since 2014, specializes in one-on-one and small group Pilates training by appointment.

“One of the best compliments I get is seeing my students do things with their bodies they didn’t think they could do,” said Holcomb, a nationally certified Pilates teacher.

Pilates is a low-impact physical fitness system created by Joseph Pilates, which uses controlled movements to improve flexibility and build core strength and endurance while improving postural alignment.

And no, it’s not yoga. While both improve flexibility and are thought to be mind-body exercises that relieve stress and boost tone, Pilates does more to strengthen muscles and moves at a faster pace than yoga, generally burning more calories. And while mats and yoga-like poses are used, Pilates incorporates resistance-type equipment such as straps, springs, and blocks into the workout.

“Whenever I tell someone I own a Pilates studio, their immediate reply is, ‘Oh, that’s just like yoga, right?” said Holcomb. “They’re really quite different. The Pilates method is a system of corrective exercises. Yoga is a moving series of poses.”

Holcomb’s customers range from individuals looking to rehab injuries – often following hip and knee surgeries – to high-performance athletes like marathon runners.

“A lot of people come in with old injuries and are still protecting that part of the body, leading them to compensate in other areas, so there’s even more pain,” Holcomb said. “What’s rewarding is when these people tell me they’ve experienced those aha moments after going through our sessions – reaching those little milestones that help them live a better life. They can now get on the floor and crawl around with their grandkids. Or just get out of bed without back pain.”

Holcomb is a Neenah native with a background in dance and a lifelong fascination with body movement. She performed in dance competitions – primarily jazz and ballet – while attending Neenah High School and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2012, majoring in dance and Spanish and minoring in nutrition.

“As I got older, I realized that if I wanted to help people move better, dance can be a little intimidating,” she said. “I found myself drawn to Pilates because it can make for a more positive movement experience for anyone from 8 to 100.”

Holcomb hasn’t lost her passion for dance. She is an active performer and busy instructor who participates in professional-level events and teaches dance workshops at studios across the Midwest. She also choreographs local musicals and competitive dance competitions. Holcomb is an adjudicator for the Fox Cities PAC Centerstage theater program, providing feedback to high school students participating in school musicals. She also works with local dancers at Waveforms, where she cross-trains them to keep them fit and healthy for their rigorous dance training. Her professional dance website is www.courtneyanne.org.

Holcomb’s studio has managed to survive the coronavirus pandemic. Waveforms had to initially shut down for two-and-a-half months during the state lockdown because it was considered a nonessential business. But Waveforms reopened, primarily because the sessions are done either one-one-one, or in small groups.

“My students have found that having consistent appointments and taking time for themselves with our classes have been a huge help in coping with a lot of the mental stress and anxieties we’re facing right now,” Holcomb said.