Sarah Elabdi

Sarah Elabdi

Founder and Owner, Ain Pilates


Fall 2022

I am a proudly Disabled, Queer, Muslim woman. The daughter of two public school teachers, one an immigrant and the other a first generation American, I was raised to love learning about my mixed Moroccan-Irish heritage. I have a deep appreciation for languages & food, two things that sparked my wanderlust early on. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago, I moved to London with no money and no job prospects, but soon jumped head first into a fast-paced corporate role. A textbook millennial, I burned too bright too quickly and within 5 years my underlying chronic health conditions worsened. After a three year medical sabbatical, I decided to change my life's course and study Pilates on my way to becoming a movement therapist. Pilates allowed me to combine my helper's nature, natural intuition, and lived experience with chronic pain in a way that bettered my own health as well as the health of those I work with. Chronically ill and disabled folks often find comfort in labels, as they give structure to a life that lacks it, and I am no exception. Some of my labels that I enjoy are: Enneagram 2; Aries Sun, Pisces Moon, Virgo Rising.

We would love to hear your story. Please share your journey on what inspired you to do the work you are doing and anything you've learned along the way.

As a person with chronic illness and mobility issues, my relationship to movement and exercise has always been complicated; a delicate balance of managing pain and energy levels, but moving enough that I don’t decondition and lose momentum. And on top of all that, I often had to “figure it out” alone. Doctors, physical therapists, and instructors didn’t know how to help me create a realistic, sustainable and functional movement program for myself. After years of feeling this way, I figured there were probably so many others who felt the same. So I trained as a Pilates teacher and worked to build Aïn Pilates with a vision of helping feel seen and supported in their movement journey. I wanted to help others build body awareness and trust by harnessing their intuition and learning to honor their body’s needs.

How has having a physical wellness space impacted your wellbeing and/or your community's wellbeing?

Having a space in which to build my Pilates practice has meant there is a physical manifestation of the relationship I aim to build with my clients as well as my own body. I look at the Aïn Studio as a living, breathing, ever-evolving reflection of my community’s needs. If there’s anything someone needs in order to feel safe and better connect with their body, I will find a way to make it happen.

How can people best support your work?

With the help of this Reclamation Ventures grant, I am so thrilled to announce the launch of the Aïn Pilates Community Movement Fund—a scholarship program that allows marginalized folks within the community to access Pilates classes for free or at a reduced fee depending on need. You can help support this work by donating to the Community Movement Fund at

How can people access your space, attend classes or workshops, etc.?

Follow me at @ainpilatesbysarah on Instagram to find out about upcoming workshops and events, both online and in-person. You can find out more about purchasing private sessions at

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