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Fort Myers, FL – Alignment Matters Interview With Pilates Master Shannon Willits

BY: Shannon Willits, Shannon Willits - Movement Arts Pilates Fort Myers

Alignment MattersThis article is a continued transcription of the video interview with Shannon Willits, Club Pilates Instructor and Dr. Lee Angle, Chiropractor in Fort Myers, FL. To watch the video and see the beginning of this interview click here.

Dr. Lee Angle, “And you mentioned the anterior head carriage, a whole lot of problems come up. Cervical muscles are going to be tight in this region. The trap muscles, the upper back are going to be tight constantly that did research study. The average human hand is 10 to 12 pounds. Right? If it’s sitting up on top where it’s supposed to be for every inch four to when it added about 30 pounds of weight.”

So you think if you hold a bowling ball right here, it might be a little heavy, but it’s okay. You moving out an inch worse, worse, worse, the further you go. So if I keep going out forward, forward, forward, it’s tighter and tighter. It’s more and more weight. Now my muscles have to anchor and pull not to even mention the fact of, and we’re going to talk about this.”

Shannon Willits, “What an impact that has on the ability to breathe, take deep breaths and to get oxygen into your body. Right? And we call that ability to breathe — vital capacity. So thinking about alignment and the way that it affects the the structure’s ability to breathe and indeed I call it the ABCs of Pilates,  Alignment being first. Breathing being the second part. And then the Core, which, you know, we all think of as our abdominals, the core supports the alignment. So the breath to me is what feeds everything. And when you have that pulled down forward, head posture, it’s inefficient. It’s a difficult way to get in a full breath and restore vital.”

Dr. Lee Angle, “Absolutely. When the head’s out in front, there’s tons of research, you actually literally stretch the spinal cord and many things stretched. Doesn’t work as well. You start the art alter blood flow to the brain a little bit. That causes problems. And again, yeah, you’re crunching everything in. If my head is out in front, now those muscles are working to pull.

Everything is tighter and it’s difficult to get a breath. So we’ve got to adjust and get that head back, but in the same vein. And, and I’ve mentioned this to many, many patients, if I’ve got terribly tight fascia or weak ad muscles, no matter how much I pull this back, we’re going to do better, but we’re never going to really get where we are without that.”

Shannon Willits, “That’s so true. And when we think about our lifestyles, right? So most people sitting eight or more hours a day at a desk, they drive everywhere. So in essence, they’re already in a flexed spine forward head position just because that’s how they spend all their day. And what often happens is because we buy now, we know that we need strong and strong abdominal muscles.”

“So what happens is people say, Doing crunches and things like that, which ingrained in more, it’s just exacerbating the problem that’s already there. So thinking about alignment, we call it neutral position. Some neutral position is a small lumbar curve, a small thoracic upper back curve and a small cervical curve.”

Like a little snake that’s shook. Absorbing those curves are important. We need those. So what more in a HyperFlex state, everything pulling down abdominals are tight. They’re not strong, they’re tight. Everything is pulled down difficult to breathe. So there’s no core strengthening going on in that type of an alignment.

So Pilates and Upper Cervical Chiropractic care work really well together. Well, it does. And you find if the cervical curve is doing well, cause your brain is going to take care of itself first, right? Whatever that cervical curve is, no one is going to largely dictate what the lumbar curve twins. If they are twins, if I’ve got what people call military spine is straight.

I’m almost always going to have a flat lumbar curve, no matter what I do. I’m not going to be able to get out of that and getting any sort of arch in there. So we’ve got to have proper neck alignment, but then strengthening here to help. Can you hold it to hold it? What is it that you say holding is holding is healing.

I love that. That’s awesome. From a functional perspective, the alignment, when it is ideal, all of the other joints move better, too much. The hips move better. Like we were talking about with your pelvis, but indeed the shoulders too. I see people that come. We’re like my shoulder, my shoulder, and they’re like this and they’re blaming their poor shoulder and it’s not the shoulder.

The shoulder is the victim of this. And so if I can get them into a more neutral alignment, the shoulder is going to just be happier. Same with the neck. Same with the feet. Absolutely. And we talk about lumbars. I said to you, before we started that I can adjust the neck and get a neck. Good. I don’t think you can exercise out of a neck problem, but a lower back problem.

It doesn’t matter how many times you might adjust that if you don’t strengthen around it, that person is always coming back. Cause the minute they did any sort of real activity or anything, no matter how good the alignment was, they don’t have the ability to brace. And then there goes the lumbar, right?

That intrinsic stability that is driven truly from the brain. So we teach three dimensional, diaphragmatic breathing, which when done in a neutral position, small lumbar curve, small cervical. It kicks in the multifidus, which is just a deal stabilize or muscle for the lumbar spine that works with the abdominal muscles.

So when you do this type of alignment based exercising with this, three-dimensional breathing, it kicks on that mechanism of support. So it’s not crunches, right? It’s diaphragmatic breathing in a neutral position. That restores balanced to the stabilizing mechanism called the core, absolutely everything working in unison together to do what it’s supposed to.

Right. And that’s how it is. That’s how we move. We don’t think about our abs when we leave the office here. Right. So you do your adjustments and we do our work and then hopefully. When they leave, they’re better. Everything married together works. Right. Throw something in here too. So everybody, I think that the, I think men, let me say men, I’m a man, right?

I think Pilates is for girls, right? This kind of for women, I’m going to use myself as a great example. So I was a competitive power lifter, had a state record squat, big strong guy. But from that came injuries came imbalances, muscle poles, muscles tears had a ton of imbalances in my hips. That’s what the hip problem and all led me to Pilates.

And I noticed as I’m doing that, things are getting more balanced and things are working in unison. Suddenly my lifts got a lot better. I was admittedly ashamed and almost embarrassed on day one. When you put me in a proper posture and position and then tested strength, some areas were great. And some that could barely, still, you had to have a foam roller at home.

So it really, no matter how good anything else is, everybody can have better balance things. And if you were an ex athlete, especially stuff is going to be imbalanced, see lots of old nag and football injuries, that kind of thing. Helps clear all that right up. It definitely does. Think about athletes. I’m working with athletes, older athletes, um, you know, they love their large muscles.

Right. And so that’s the power part. And, um, what we do with Pilates is, you know, we take advantage of that athleticism because it’s wonderful to work with, but show a new way to approach the movement instead of just beasting and powering it out. Yeah. From the inside out, right? The breathing focusing in word on the alignment to execute any could be a power move.

It’s just another approach, safer, stabilized, more enduring way stabilized. That’s the older we get, the more things want to break. Right. So I’ve gotta be more careful when you’re 20, you can grab a refrigerator and throw it away with it. When you’re 40, you do it now. You’re in the north. So yeah. So I’ve referred a fair amount of patients down to club Pilates.

And I want to kind of explain why I think that’s important, right? There’s so many chiropractors who do tons of therapy and rehab in their office. I don’t do that. It’s not my expertise really highly trained, really experienced at the spine. I’m not super highly trained, experienced the other. You are, your instructors are, they have to go.

How many hours of training? 500 at the minimum, the minimum, right? There’s a really high standard. They know what they’re doing. They’re not just getting off the couch and showing up and teaching people how to do something. Yeah, I know if it’s me and I want my neck taken care of. I want to go to an expert if I want this part of things taken care of, I’m going to go to an expert.

Right. And it marries in so well, because I can have a great structure and sloppy muscles. I’m going to have a problem. I can have great muscles in a sloppy structure. I’m gonna have a problem. But again, if we put the two together, people tend to do really, really well. They hold adjustments better. They perform better at Pilates cause their spine works the way they do.

And it just makes for a much better life. You can get around and do your day-to-day things much better. I agree. And for us, me specifically, I’d like to send people who I’m struggling with and I know will benefit from the upper cervical approach to chiropractic because then their journey just is exponentially.

“Best Pilates Instructor in Fort Myers, FL”

Top Rated Local Pilates Workout Classes / Studios / Programs / Services

Lee County: Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, FL


“Best Pilates Instructor in Fort Myers, FL”

Top Rated Local Pilates Workout Classes / Studios / Programs / Services

Lee County: Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Naples, FL

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Shannon Willits

Shannon Willits - Movement Arts Pilates Fort Myers

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13211 McGregor Boulevard,
Fort Myers, FL 33919, USA

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13211 McGregor Boulevard,
Fort Myers, FL 33919, USA



BIO: I have personally experienced the benefits of Pilates and The MELT Method along with functional, core-based movement to overcome my own overuse injuries. It is through my experience that I share with my clients the knowledge that with hydrated and toned connective tissue and correct movement you can achieve results of a strong, fluid, balanced body that is pain-free and moves with ease.


Fort Myers, FL – Alignment Matters Interview With Pilates Master Shannon Willits