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Nipomo-based pilates and barre studio creates a new sense of community 

When Shannon Mako moved to Nipomo from San Clemente four years ago, she knew no one and found it really hard to make new friends, she said.

"The nature of the Central Coast is that it's very small town. Properties are spread out, people have their houses sit further back in their land. You don't meet your neighbors as much as you do in suburban Orange County," Mako said.

To make new friends, Mako joined Powerhouse Barre and Pilates: a new Nipomo-based studio run by fellow Central Coast transfer Marissa Wilson—who moved here from Bakersfield—Mako said. Now, Mako oversees the fitness company's marketing and continues to take classes.

click to enlarge SUMMER CHALLENGE New Powerhouse Barre and Pilates members can enjoy unlimited pilates and barre classes this summer (June through August) at 15 percent off when they commit to a three-month membership. - COURTESY PHOTO BY SHANNON MAKO
  • Courtesy Photo By Shannon Mako
  • SUMMER CHALLENGE New Powerhouse Barre and Pilates members can enjoy unlimited pilates and barre classes this summer (June through August) at 15 percent off when they commit to a three-month membership.

"It's something you never get bored with," Mako said about taking studio classes. "It keeps you humble because you think you have everything down, and then you come to a class and you do all sorts of moves you've never done before."

Owner and founder Wilson has been in the fitness industry for 16 1/2 years and helped several people open studios in Orcutt, Santa Maria, and Arroyo Grande, but decided she needed to forge her own path, Wilson said.

"I took the opportunity during the pandemic to open and bring something to the Nipomo community because there's nothing in Nipomo. I knew there were a lot of people in Nipomo driving to Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, or San Luis Obispo; it was a [necessity] that Nipomo had to have this, why should Nipomo have to drive?"

Pilates and barre are two low-impact workouts that will tone muscles and get heart rates up, very beneficial for those looking to step into fitness, recovering from injuries, or are aging but want to continue working out, Wilson explained.

"Barre is a super fun, energetic, and musically driven workout that fuses pilates and yoga to create long, lean muscles," she said. "Pilates focuses on alignment, balance, precision, and control. It's a core-focused workout that helps flexibility and agility."

Wilson said she fell into the fitness world in the first place in order to develop her own health and wellness, and find release.

"I got into the industry because I have three kids, and I didn't grow up with health and wellness. We didn't talk about your health, or taking care of your physical and emotional health," she said.

As a result, she said she gained a significant amount of weight while pregnant with her children and wanted to make personal changes to her lifestyle. She started going on walks, which accelerated into runs. To balance running, she did hot yoga and shortly after decided to train for a half marathon. A friend then suggested that she incorporate barre workouts for training, which got her hooked, she added.

Although Wilson agrees that opening a fitness center during the pandemic presented unique challenges, the studio blossomed after a year with more than 200 members taking daily classes plus private lessons, five instructors, and two front desk workers.

"When I opened, it was just me, no other instructors. Looking at it a year later, it's crazy to see how many people we have, and I look forward to seeing it grow," Wilson said.

This may be an unprecedented time to live in and things change constantly, but fitness, Wilson said, is something people aren't limiting for themselves anymore.

"The pandemic changed the mindset of health. People have found ways to budget around their health; it's totally prioritized, and people find ways to cut other things out," Wilson said.

Those interested in becoming Powerhouse members can visit to see class times, instructor information, and membership cost breakdowns. The first class is free, and then people can decide to join afterward. The studio's located at 543 W. Tefft St., Nipomo.

Fast fact

• A new World War II exhibition debuted at the Oceano Train Depot at the end of May, in honor of Memorial Day. The exhibit features a unique grouping of rare WWII military figures wearing authentic uniforms from the era, along with posters, memorabilia, equipment, and other items. The showcase is scheduled to remain on display through the beginning of July. The items featured in the exhibit came from the personal collection of Oceano resident and historian Mark Weedon, who acquired the artifacts over several years. To find out more about the exhibit, call (805) 489-5446 or email The Oceano Train Depot is open every Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. and is located at 1650 Front St., Oceano. Δ

Taylor O'Connor from New Times' sister paper, the Sun, wrote this week's Strokes. You can reach her at

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