Mill Valley resident Carmen Zeni, owner of her eponymous pilates studio at 158 East Blithedale Ave., has been helping people get their bodies right for three decades, and the arc of her career can be described, quite literally, as one thing leading to another.
Thirty years ago, Zeni began working in San Francisco as a massage therapist, having trained in the healing arts of massage, Swedish sports massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, and eastern shiatsu and acupuncture. One of her gigs was with a chiropractor.
“People would come because they had work injuries,” Zeni says. “They would come for chiropractic work and then they would go to massage therapy, to me, and then also to pilates for rehab and regaining strength,” she says.
Amazed with the results she saw in her clients, Zeni started to do pilates herself.
“I was intrigued and marveled about the possibilities and the results [I saw in myself], so I started training others,” said Zeni.
Twenty years ago, Zeni launched Body Balance Mill Valley, a pilates studio for which she drew on her training in massage therapy and her ability to integrate all that she had learned previously into her work to further elevate it.
Over time, that practice has morphed into Carmen Zeni Pilates – same location – and Zeni says she’s most passionate about the versatility and creativity in her pilates work.
“Along with being able to make a difference for my clients,” she says. “Also, Mill Valley is just an extraordinary place to live and work. I really like working with all different kinds of people. I think pilates has a strong influence in their lives because it helps them feel more confident (and) stronger.”
Zeni’s studio is small, designed for personal training with one or two people. But she explains that having a smaller environment does not limit what a client can do but instead, gives them more privacy and, in fact, space.
“It’s very versatile,” she says. “I use all the same machines but we can do all different types of things… everyone has a different and unique program.”
Zeni’s studio incorporates a Corealign machine, which helps clients work on their core as well as helping them find balance and alignment.
“I really feel that through the environment of fitness and healing, my work helps people become more empowered and comfortable with themselves and their environment,” she says.