The 5er: Pilates Instructor Nanci Bogart Besser

She's known as "The Body Whisperer" which is a hefty and well-deserved title for Pilates Instructor Nanci Bogart Besser.  After suffering from a tough shoulder injury, Nanci was able to fully rehabilitate herself through the beauty of Pilates.  Inspired by this practice, Nanci went on to become an instructor and has built up her practice to in-studio and at-home private sessions in Los Angeles.  With words of encouragement for those nasty 100's, who her dream client is and what healthy treats she's currently obsessed with, read on as she tackles "The 5er's" curious questions about the world of Pilates. 

Tell me a little about your Pilates background and how you got into it.
I’ve been instructing private Pilates sessions for over 7 years and practiced it as a student and teacher for nearly a decade. Pilates found me as a means for rehabilitating a serious shoulder injury I sustained from a car accident. I was amazed at the end of my first session with my-now-mentor; my shoulder did not hurt more. All other types of rehab I’d attempted caused more pain before alleviating some of the chronic pain. None though had ever offered long-term relief.

Pilates was my answer to pain relief and after two years of three-times-a-week private sessions I was stronger than I’d been before the accident and healed of my injury.  After receiving what doctors told me was impossible, being pain free from my shoulder’s injury, I decided to share this approach to whole-body healing with others as a teacher. I’ve had studios in Northern and Southern California and worked with over 1,000 clients since receiving my certification. I meet clients where they are at in the present.

I specialize in using Pilates and Functional Biomechanics as a means to increase and teach body awareness. Clients call me “The Body Whisperer” because I listen to the body’s subtleties via understanding alignment, anatomy, muscular imbalances, gait and posture mechanics. I approach sessions with a detailed eye and intuitive sense of what is required to achieve balance in an individual’s body. Whether a client finds me due to an injury or just seeking to increase overall health and fitness, together we collaborate to create an ideal experience in his or her body. There is nothing each of us spend more time in our life with than our own body. Why not make the investment in you and your present and future health and well-being? There is no greater return!

What is the biggest misconception people have about Pilates thinking it might not be a "real" workout?
How does one define “real workout?” If you mean that the sessions may not leave you feeling exhausted and dripping with sweat as is common with more traditional weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise, then yes, Pilates is different. But rather than attempt to tell you what makes Pilates different, allow me to explain what Pilates offers. Pilates offers you a whole-body approach to functional movement and biomechanics. It strengthens your core muscles from the inside-out and allows you to experience freedom of movement in your limbs.

Mastery of Pilates is not a static occurrence; it is a dynamic process. The results are subtler at first but the effects are long lasting. Once a certain level or baseline of core awareness develops, one does not have to worry about getting to the next level, your body will take you there along with gentle, guided encouragement from a trained instructor.

Pilates is not inherently cardiovascular in its nature, but one gains energy and endurance from practicing Pilates which allows for greater exertion outside of the studio in other forms of exercise including running, biking, hiking - just to name a few. One of the most common effects of practicing Pilates is a sense of feeling taller, younger, longer and leaner. Actual weight loss may not occur, but clothes fit better and one’s body feels more integrated, youthful and connected.

 Nanci's Pilates Retreat

What words of inspiration can you give for those of us struggling (and loathing) the 100's?
Hang in there. They get easier. Practice of the 100’s is a great way to engage your low and deep abdominal muscles that assist with maintaining pelvic and hip stability and relieve pressure from your low back. Few things are more sought by either gender than a toned or firm and slim mid-section and waist. The 100’s are not the only way to achieve this physical effect, but they are one of the best and most time-effective offerings. However, it should be noted that the traditional 100’s are not for those with injury to their spines. A trained instructor may modify the traditional exercise though and all levels of students may experience the benefits.

If you could work out with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Hmm, that is a tough one. I would love to receive Jennifer Lawrence as a client. She seems so down-to-earth and I love her approach to health and wellness. She encourages young women to embrace their bodies in a healthy way and is not fanatical about being super skinny. She is a great role model and it seems like the mind-body aspect to Pilates would resonate with her strongly. Hopefully she reads your blog!

Who or what are you currently obsessed with?
You mean besides Ryan Gosling? Ok, seriously, I am obsessed with Earth Bar’s Blueberry Bliss smoothie and with Perfect Food Bars Light in Cranberry.  They provide a great start to my day!

And if you need to learn even a bit more about Pilates, read this recent article Nanci wrote titled "Truth about Pilates".  

Nanci currently has a fully-equipped Private Pilates retreat in Studio City on Moorpark St. near Colfax Ave.  All new clients are welcome! And, she offers sessions all over LA in-home or at other offsite locations. For booking an appointment with Nanci, you can contact her at 310.402.6712 or email her at