TDS 40, The Best Gift To Give Your Body, Interview with Rachel Scholten of Kneeling Cat Pilates

Rachel Scholten of Kneeling Cat Pilates

Rachel Scholten of Kneeling Cat Pilates

Right this moment, sit or stand up as straight as you can and reach your arms up to the sky—and then, reach a bit further. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Now, as you take a deep breath and exhale, let me explain how Pilates, cats and paella are all connected in this week’s episode of #thedeliciousstory.

In this interview we talk with Pilates Coach Rachel Scholten, who shares stories of how these seemingly-disparate subjects come together in her life full of health, flavor and furry friends. Most importantly, we learn about the significant benefits of stretching and why the practice of Pilates can dramatically improve someone’s quality of life. Kitties are discussed as to their importance for Rachel, too, and then we finish up with paella and a trip somewhere sunny for the memorable meal. It’s all prrrrrrfectly wonderful, so be sure to listen in.

I’ll admit, as I do in the podcast, that I knew nothing about Pilates before this interview. I found the backstory of Joseph Pilates particularly fascinating, however. Born in Germany in the late 1800s, Joseph became a prisoner of war in England and first introduced some of his stretching ideas to help convalescing soldiers recover from injuries. Later, Joseph continued to expand his program and invented the machines—called reformers—that aid in stretch and resistance techniques Pilates developed.

Joseph left Germany shortly before WWII to immigrate to the United States, and eventually established the first Pilates studio in New York City. He enjoyed a following for his program during the 1950s and 60s, and actively promoted the importance of stretching as essential for a healthy life. He was largely dismissed by the medical professionals of the day.

Today, Pilates is experiencing a renaissance world-wide with studios like Kneeling Cat Pilates appearing everywhere. People are taking notice that incorporating stretching into daily activity is universally good for daily health and longevity.


Rachel’s interest in Pilates came after a major surgery. For her, traditional rehab wasn’t yielding results, so she explored this low-impact workout to improve her flexion, mobility and strength. Pilates soon became a way of life for Rachel, and with such favorable results, she decided to study and become an expert to help others.

I found Rachel’s story exciting because of my limited experience and success with stretching. I’ve done the occasional pre and post-exercise stretch and have always thought, “This feels great. Why don’t I stretch more often?”

And then, there was the one time when I injured my Achilles tendon. I was about 30 pounds heavier and almost a decade younger than today, and yet I was convinced that I could jump rope like when I was a kid. Within minutes I did a wonky twist of my ankle and felt the ping! of something in my heel. I limped around for weeks with great discomfort in the mornings and even had to wear inserts in my shoes.

Finally, I went to see an orthopedist, assuming I was destined for surgery. The doctor recommended a series of stretches for my calf and thigh which I went home and started immediately. Within just a couple of days, I realized such an improvement that I thought I’d stumbled onto a miracle. It was a thrill to go to the doctor and be given instructions that worked so quickly and without a prescription or procedure!

As I’ve aged, I’ve realized the value of stretching for overall mobility and strength, but hadn’t developed a routine to make it a part of my daily life until recently when I started my new mini-habit each morning. The signs were clear I needed to get busy taking better care of myself. I noticed I was groaning more when bending over, and picking up my grandchildren yielded rebellion from muscles I’d previously taken for granted.

The evidence is everywhere on the internet that stretching is good for you, whether it’s Pilates, Yoga or a basic stretching routine of your own design. For a quick list of benefits, check out, “Stretching: 9 Benefits and Safety Tips and How to Start,” over at Healthline.


Rachel explains how she went from her personal passion for Pilates to the decision to open a studio as well as how she came up with the name Kneeling Cat Pilates. No, there aren’t kitties in the studio—I had to ask the silly question—but her fondness for cats and her support for the Animal Rescue League of Iowa is explained in the name. If you appreciate the Animal Rescue League, too, and helping to care for animals, you’ll enjoy Rachel’s creative take on supporting ARL with her business.

Kneeling Cat Pilates is nestled in the charming Sherman Hill historic neighborhood of Des Moines. The studio is an inviting space, basking in the light pouring in from the tall windows of this storied building—noted as the oldest row house in Iowa. Rachel offers individual, couple and class programs, and her work with clients is individualized to their needs. She jokes, but in fact it’s true that her attention to the specific health concerns for each person is incredibly thorough.  

Because of Rachel’s personal health history, she has earned certifications with additional ongoing training while working with clients dealing with health conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s and stroke.


The backdrop for this week’s memorable meal story is Barcelona, the charming Mediterranean city in southern Spain. However, it’s the impending event for Rachel at the time this meal took place that makes the story especially meaningful. Rachel describes a serving of paella that neither she nor her traveling companions would ever forget. It was significant for its deliciousness—and the quantity.

I’ve not had too many encounters with paella, but what’s not to like? The dish includes rice, chicken and a variety of sea food, all brought together and served in a large and shallow pan. Paella has a rich history that speaks to multi-cultural influences—in this case of the Romans and Moors—which each ruled in Spain over the centuries. I found this wonderful and concise history over at The Kitchen Project if you’d like to learn more. Also, if cooking paella sounds like something you’d like to try, here is a recipe over at Food and Wine.

It wouldn’t be Delicious Story interview if I didn’t ask about kitchen mishaps, and Rachel shares a humorous one. Here’s a resource by Spruce Eats if you ever have need of it for cooking meals up in high altitudes.


Right now, as I write this sentence, I’m sitting (which I do a lot since I write). I can feel my muscles growing shorter, my bones resting on one another, all settling like a house and just waiting for the cracks to appear. The analogy works for describing the human body. The muscles are attached to the bones, and all of it holds us up. It’s exciting that doing something so basic like stretching can noticeably improve health if we simply reach up and do it. But if you cannot stretch alone or are looking for ideas and encouragement to build a routine, then check out Kneeling Cat Pilates . It will be worth your time.

I’ll keep you posted on our experience, as both my husband and I plan to go in and check out Rachel’s studio in the next week or so. No need to wait on my report, however, if you are ready to reach for better health. You can contact Rachel right away. And if you live outside of Des Moines, Pilates is available most everywhere.

Alexandra and Sherry, 2016

Alexandra and Sherry, 2016

Sherry is the founder of Storied Gifts a personal publishing service of family and company histories. She and her team help clients curate and craft their stories into books. When not writing or interviewing, Sherry spends loads of time with her grandchildren and lives in Des Moines, Iowa.


Need a beautiful infusion of inspiration for your storied life? Please check out the Storied Gifts Shop where we offer Wearable Wisdom & Daily Inspirations.

The shop is a mother and daughter venture for Sherry and Alexandra Borzo of Content In Motion. They both work to help their client's stories sing. The shop is there effort to inspire a focus on healthy minds for everyone through positive thought.


Please like the Storied Gifts Facebook page. We offer tips and inspirations to help you tell your stories and live a storied life by harnessing your healthy mind through the power of the thoughts you choose.