Saturday, January 22, 2022

Sand Dollar Pilates: Functional Movement for Quality of Life

Sheri VanElls loves helping people regain movement through Pilates.

Movement may change as we age, but that does not mean our quality of life has to.

The recently opened Sand Dollar Pilates studio adapts functional movement to an individual’s abilities, with a focus on quality of life. Pilates can help improve flexibility, muscle strength, rehabilitate or prevent injuries related to muscle imbalances. 

Originally from the west side of Michigan, certified Pilates instructor and owner, Sheri VanElls moved to Marco Island five years ago with her family.

Mobility had never been an issue for VanElls, a physically active mother of two. But, she says, once she reached a certain age, physical activity became difficult. Not paying attention to her mind-body connection and lacking a strong core, VanElls endured a back injury. She received treatment at a physical therapy center and was introduced to Pilates.

Through Pilates, VanElls learned how to recruit correct muscle movements and to distance herself from unhealthy movement patterns and imbalances created by past injuries. After being a Pilates student for two years, her newfound passion was sparked. “My highest passion lies with individuals that have lost their everyday functional movement patterns and abilities to perform everyday tasks,” VanElls stated.

With over 450 learning hours logged, VanElls obtained her PMA-CPT and completed her comprehensive training program twice to familiarize herself in-depth with the practice of Pilates. She has several certifications and training that include, post rehabilitation for injury modification and efficiency training which targets performance and recovery, Barre, and BioCored SuspensionX Corrective Training (which is similar to TRX). She has taken courses in anatomy and plans to attend a seminar over the holidays for neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis to broaden her scope.

Sand Dollar Pilates is Marco Island’s only privately owned, fully equipped Pilates studio. VanElls is certified in every apparatus available, such as the Cadillac, Reformer, Springboard, Barrels, Chair, and more.

The studio offers a truly individualized experience. To avoid injury, each session takes place at an individual’s pace. Individuals learn to engage proper form and strengthen their smaller muscles which helps assist larger muscles move efficiently and be balanced.

Discovery sessions help determine strength level, ability to carry out specific exercises, and the training program required for improvement. VanElls will assess movement patterns and then design a program tailored specifically for the individual. No matter the individual goal, or fitness level, the proper foundation is vital.

“My biggest reward is when I see people feeling better and moving better,” VanElls commented. “When people come and put the work in and discover that they’re moving easier. That’s my payoff.”

Wellness is a team effort for VanElls. Her sessions help a person combine their doctor-recommended health needs with acquiring their desired quality of life.

VanElls explains that our bodies can cover up discomfort for us, whether it is from overuse of muscles or trauma. Pilates uses breath control, coordination and precise/detailed movements, incorporating the body as a whole to move safely and pain-free in a noncompetitive environment.

Being involved in the community is as important to VanElls as helping people regain their mobility. When she is not at the studio, she is involved in the Marco Island American Cancer Society Relay for Life. She is team captain of the Island Hooters for a second year.

Sand Dollar Pilates’ hours of operation are 7 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. VanElls will work with your schedule and evening appointments are available upon request.

Sand Dollar Pilates is located in the SunTrust Centre, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island. Email for more information. Website is expected to launch in late December (

The fully equipped studio is perfect for one-on-one sessions. | Photos by Jesus Calo

One response to “Sand Dollar Pilates: Functional Movement for Quality of Life”

  1. Kathy OBrien says:

    My recent knee replacement surgery caused a great deal of discomfort. Walking was painful and really slowed me down. Working with Sand Dollar Pilates has relieved the pain and given me more energy and confidence when out and about. I intend to continue working with Sheri to supplement the healing process for my knee.

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