The Core Expert™, Jessica Schatz, uses her extensive knowledge, skill, and heart to motivate others to live better, happier lives. Her diverse clientele includes professional athletes, dancers, actors, as well as anyone who desires transformation into optimal wellness. She’s worked with fashion mogul Ashley Olsen, NBA star Wesley Matthews of the Dallas Mavericks, former NFL linebacker Shaun Phillips, the cast of Hamilton, the company of Wicked (while in residency at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre), and members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Jessica is the daughter of world-renowned photographer Howard Schatz, known for his depiction of the human body (featured in outlets like Time, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine, and others). She and her father share an enormous appreciation for the human form and all of its potential.
Now based in Los Angeles, the native San Franciscan graduated cum laude from San Jose State University. She received Classical East Coast Pilates training and certification from direct protégés of the famed Romana Kryzanowska, and then earned certifications as a JOGA® Coach (“Yoga for Jocks”), Personal Trainer, and trained as a Yoga Instructor in Vinyasa Flow, Restorative, and Core Power practices. Her professional dance career has included working with the famed Limon West, Tandy Beal & Company, American Musical Theatre of San Jose, Opera San Jose, and others.
Jessica is widely recognised for her distinctive methodology, a rare combination of Pilates, exercise physiology, kinesiology, and specialised strength and conditioning exercises she designs for each individual client. Her customised instruction addresses the experience level and body type of each student, with personalised and precise, adjustments for risk factors. Jessica addresses the correct development of muscle to create a virtual “suit of armour” to build resistance to muscle fatigue and avoid injury, and to enhance balance, mobility, alignment, stability, and proper joint function. This approach she calls “prehab” is designed to minimise if not eliminate the need for rehab.
Hey Jessica, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Jessica Schatz – owner and founder of Jessica Schatz, the Core Expert™. I also run Body by JessicaÆ, and a company targeted to elite professional athletes and dancers, Champion Pilates™. I am a Master Pilates instructor, yoga teacher, JOGA® coach, personal trainer, nutrition and lifestyle coach, health and wellness coach, and a former professional dancer. My personal and professional goal is to teach everyone and anyone to live a better life through optimal health and wellness.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I came into this world moving, and have been ever since! I studied dance from a very early age, and one of my first and most favourite classes was called “Creative Movement.” It’s no surprise to me that later my interest and emphasis would be contemporary dance. I also studied ballet with the San Francisco Ballet School, performing in The Nutcracker at the San Francisco Opera House. When I was six, I had an experience that basically sealed the deal: my parents took my sister and me, to a professional production of A Chorus Line. I remember being on the edge of my seat during the whole performance. After the show, my parents took us to the stage door to see the dancers come out and to get their autographs. The entire experience was not only a thrill, but it inspired me and set me on the path to dance and move, ultimately getting me to where I am today.
I attended college as a dance major focusing on performance. I also immersed myself in the study of anatomy, biology, kinesiology, and all the sciences behind my artistic pursuit. Fortunately, I was introduced to Pilates and yoga early in my dance training. As I became aware of their enormous benefits for my body and mind, it was a natural evolution to my becoming who and what I am.
I performed and toured as a professional dancer for many years while also teaching Pilates and yoga classes – until these endeavours had a life of their own.
Movement in any way, shape, or form, is what I have always lived for, and I have had an endless, deep desire to encourage and inspire people to live a better life through optimal health and wellness. It’s equally important for me to achieve happiness, groundedness, balance, and a genuine connection with people.
What is a day in the life of you like as a Pilates instructor?
I wake up, I meditate, I move, I teach, I write, I read, I study, I create, I connect with people, and do my best to make aligned choices that support my health, well-being, and life’s purpose – not necessarily in that order.
You are the founder of CHAMPION PILATES™ and Body By Jessica, could you talk more in-depth about how your programs fuse Pilates, Exercise Physiology, and Kinesiology together?
I believe the connection between the mind and body is at the root of optimal health and wellness. My methodology expands upon Joseph Pilates’ essential principles and incorporates modern exercise science, biomechanics, and full-body movement practices. My approach is integrative – rooted in Pilates, and drawing upon yoga, biomechanics, meditation, psychotherapy, exercise, nutrition, exercise physiology, and kinesiology. One of my guiding principles is Spinal health controls function. Pilates teaches full-body movement with a special focus on the spine – its movement in many planes and directions, how it must twist, bend, extend, and flex. I work with each individual to restore the natural curve of the spine, re-balance the muscles around the joints, and achieve pelvic, spinal, and scapular stabilisation. I add specialised strength and conditioning exercises customised to the experience level and body type of each student. Whether a person works at a desk or in a sports arena, my methodology teaches the critical biomechanics of movement. My approach is consistent with the findings of many health practitioners and researchers that long-term wellness results when the whole person – body, mind, and spirit – is properly addressed.
How does your ‘prehab’ approach support the correct development of muscle, whilst building resistance to muscle fatigue for your clients?
Injuries affect you both physically and emotionally. No one likes to be in pain. ‘Prehab’ is about avoiding injury and eliminating the need for rehab. I assess the experience and body type of each student, with personalised, precise, and definitive adjustments for risk factors. I begin with an emphasis on the core. The movement starts with the core. We concentrate on a heightened awareness of how the body feels, how best to control the body’s movement – this builds “mindful movement” — in order to accomplish an optimal function. The core determines a person’s posture, power, alignment, balance, control, and circulation. Core strength improves joint stability and mobility, and improves performance, greatly lowering the risk of injury.
Who does the team involve behind you?
First and foremost, I select individuals to work with me who understand and believe in my philosophy and mission. My team includes an assistant, digital marketing specialist, and a PR team.
Where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
I plan to be considered a valuable contributor to the health and wellness industry, and I want to offer opportunities to advance one’s health and wellness knowledge and practices.
What strategies do you have in place when looking at the expansion of your programmes?
My regular practice includes attending educational and professional conferences to stay abreast of cutting-edge developments and new modalities in the health and wellness and fitness industries.
I will continue to work with professional dancers, athletes, and general fitness enthusiasts, and continue my work with individuals dealing with Parkinson’s. People contact me all the time requesting my help, asking questions, or wondering if they can attend a session or class with me. I am currently developing an instructional web video series which will be available on my website and will be regularly updated and renewed. I will continue to do guest lectures, conduct sessions at retreats, spas, and at corporate offices, and write instructional blogs, articles, and books.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
Like many human beings, I have dealt with anxiety and depression. This has given me great empathy for and understanding of others who experience these conditions. I committed myself to regain confidence and calmness and fulfil my responsibilities to teach and help my clients. I am highly sensitive and empathic to someone who is going through anxiety, panic, or depression. Part of my path is to help people in any way I can. Being human is challenging. But I have learned to manage these challenges by staying committed to my work, my health and happiness so that I can continue to better understand myself and help others.
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
I have been lucky to have a number of wonderful mentors in my life who challenged, inspired, and encouraged me to grow, take action, and find my own way. As much as possible, I stay connected to them and continue to appreciate the life-changing lessons they taught me.
What outlets do use to market your classes and workshops to gain new clients?
I utilise all social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Press publications, podcasts, interviews, and articles I write are available on my website and in press releases. I write a monthly blog which appears in my monthly newsletter, for which anyone can sign up on my website.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
I make it a point to stay connected to my community – to friends, family, and professional colleagues. This is an important part of making my life meaningful. When I am working or working out, I’m careful to get out in the world, reach out to my friends and have a conversation with people who share my ideas and values.
What do you believe are the common misconceptions about being a Pilates instructor?
Often people think my role is merely to give them “a good workout” or to strengthen their abs – that it really is just about the physical. In actuality, I teach Pilates from the place of the six core principles on which it was founded:
Many people think that all Pilates instructors teach the same thing. Since Pilates has become so mainstream, there have been so many deviations from the original method created by Joseph Pilates.
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
Always continue to educate yourself, knowledge is power.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
When you let go of your idea of what your life has to look like, your world gets so much bigger!
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Time-management is challenging. I love what I do and want to do it, but have to remind myself to take time for self-care, community, fun, and downtime. Being consistent with my meditation practice definitely helps me stay on track. It provides clarity in taking the moment to tune in and be mindful, therefore helping me to create balance.
The highlight of your career so far?
One of the highlights of my career was working with a Parkinson’s patient. He left our session happier, with more colour in his face, more control over his movements, and his body, mind, and spirit felt better. The experience of contributing to and seeing his progress was incredibly gratifying.
Another highlight was working with NBA shooting guard Wesley Matthews to help him recover from Achilles surgery. After working with me all summer, he made a full recovery and got signed to a four-year deal with his current team, the Dallas Mavericks. It’s exciting for me to see Wesley get to do what he loves, especially at such a high level.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Any time I help someone to live a better life, that is fulfilling for me. For example, my mom in her forties suffered from low back pain, hip pain, and sciatica. She started to do Pilates with me regularly, and years later, in her seventies, she is pain-free and has a high-functioning body. I’m always satisfied when I’ve helped anyone to Feel Better, Function Better, and Live Better, especially my mom.
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of launching Pilates for Athletes & Dancers?
The market is saturated and the industry is huge. The challenge has been to become more visible so that I can reach more people.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
I really admire Robert Holden, PhD. His innovative work on psychology-spirituality-happiness – and their integration is incredibly inspiring. In fact, soon I’m attending a conference led by Dr Holden to learn how to bring more of these integrative principles to my work. I also admire and look up to my friend and colleague Jana Webb, creator of JOGA®. Her drive and tenacity are like nothing I’ve ever seen. Her program is brilliant and has led me to work as a JOGA®, coach. Also, in collaboration with Jana, I created a program specifically for JOGA® based on my Pilates for Athletes methods.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I highly recommend a book I just finished: ‘Trading in Compassion: Zen Teachings on the Practice of Lojong’ by Dr Norman Fischer.
How do you measure your own terms of success?
I succeed when it’s clear to me that I have helped someone feel better, function better and live better by understanding and applying the mind-body connection. Therefore, I am successful when I am truly fulfilling my purpose to inspire and help people.
Lastly, what is next for you?
I am excited about my online video instructional series. I am working hard on it, putting in a lot of time and energy.