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Garuda leaving London to shape a new future for American fitness

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On Tuesday, Jessica Dumanch found herself in the international terminal at the Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona waiting to board a plane bound for the United Kingdom. And later this week, when the PMA certified Pilates Instructor and owner of Arizona-based PR Pilates returns to the U.S., she won't be alone. Dumanch is bringing back something that could effectively change the face of fitness across North America, just as it has in parts of Europe.

For those who haven't yet heard of Garuda, Dumanch tells Examiner that she is doing her utmost to change that. Of course, if you're Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Sting, you already know what Garuda is and, more importantly, what it can do.

In Indian mythology, the Garuda is a mythical bird capable of molding its shape to serve its function. James D’Silva, a former dancer at the Royal Ballet, has risen to prominence within the realm of yoga, dance and Pilates for his development of Garuda, a "hybrid workout system" that is celebrated for being unique in its "versatility, flexibility and precision of movement."

Despite being revolutionary in its own right, Garuda has not yet gained critical mass across the pond. But it may soon, thanks to another savvy business mind with a passion for Pilates and an appreciation of mythological birds.

"PR stands for Phoenix Rising and holds a special meaning for me," Dumanch says of her studio’s name. "In Ancient Egyptian mythology the Phoenix is an immortal bird that, when it dies, bursts into flames, and is reborn from its own ashes. To rise from the ashes like a phoenix means to make a miraculous comeback."

Perhaps nowhere is a "miraculous comeback" more desperately needed today than in the United States, where the overall health of Americans continues to decline with 6 in 10 adults now classified as overweight or obese. With fad exercises and pill bottles harming more people than they help, Dumanch is among the vanguard of fitness experts and health professionals looking for innovative and effective new solutions, which is what led her to Garuda.

By D’Silva's own admission, Garuda takes Pilates - a well-known and credible method of exercise and breath work - to the next level.

"Over the years I have found Pilates quite stunted, so I have come up with a contraption which amalgamates Pilates machines into one and adds some features," he explained in a recent interview. "I found the whole repertoire quite boring after so many years and I thought I could take it somewhere else. It has worked really well."

D’Silva worked with engineers to produce a single exercise device with "almost limitless possibilities" that is now recognized as the Garuda Apparatus. "With its large split platform, chair attachment, increased range of movement within the framework and adjustability of the pulleys, ropes, bars and straps, it takes exercise, body conditioning and rehabilitation to a new level," describes D’Silva's website.

Following her on-site training with D’Silva and his team in the U.K., Dumanch will bring her knowledge of Garuda Matwork and the Garuda Apparatus back to her studio, making history in the process.

Earlier this month, Dumanch announced a partnership with upscale fashion retail giant Nordstrom in Chandler, Arizona to introduce Garuda Matwork to the West Coast of the United States. Her local weekend teachings throughout the month of March represent not only the first fitness-centered events Nordstrom has ever hosted, but also the first time that Garuda Matwork will be taught west of New York City.

After her London departure, Dumanch plans to waste no time putting her knowledge and resources to work improving the lives of clients and those wishing to learn more about Garuda.

"It's about empowerment and encouragement," Dumanch expounds. "It's about seeing opportunity in adversity. It's about transforming into the best version of your own unique self. After all, hope is a Phoenix spreading wings to fly."

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