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Pilates and pickleball go together at the Crew’s Ybor warehouse

Warming up before playing pickleball can be vital in avoiding injuries or muscle pulls. Pilates instructor Bella Sumner has taken that concept to the next level.

Sumner, 30, heads a class combining Pilates and pickleball on Wednesday mornings at the Tampa Pickleball Crew’s covered warehouse in Ybor City. A series of mind-body exercises to spur muscle exertion is followed by open play.

Photo courtesy of Alex Jones
Bella Sumner and Stephen Long stretch out during the Pilates segment of the weekly classes.

“Pilates has become pretty trendy,” said Sumner, who has taught Pilates for three years while playing pickleball for two years. “The gals over there reached out. I think they were trying to think outside the box.”

The Crew — co-owned by Kayla Goldman, Dene Williamson, Susan Forsyth and Jennifer Plummer — has had numerous “outside-thebox” events since opening in January. They include Rad ’80s Ladies and Battle of the Brands tournaments.

Forsyth, who has takenSumner’s classes, commended the instructor.

Photo courtesy of Alex Jones
Bella Sumner’s sessions combine Pilates and pickleball.

“It was very good stretching and conditioning before playing pickleball,” she said. “It’s very low-impact and it’s for all ages.”

As for adding the class to a growing list of activities at the Crew’s facility, Forsyth said, “We’re trying to mix things up a bit, to do things that are good for the body and lend (themselves) well to pickleball. Bella is very in tune to all that.”

Sumner’s longtime boyfriend Brendan Smith, a 33-year-old personal trainer who, like her, is a former standout high school athlete, called combining Pilates and pickleball “a great concept. It’s more exposure for the pickleball and Pilates communities.”

Classes began in March, with eight to 12 people showing up regularly. Pilates sessions start at 10 a.m. with pickleball followed about an hour later.

Photo courtesy of Alex Jones
Marie Gagnon, who takes the classes, is shown with the instructor.

“It’s a win-win,” Jami Riordan said. “We were going elsewhere for Pilates. You get a nice stretch. (Sumner is) a pickleball player so she knows what we should do.”

“Listen to your body,” Sumner said. “Warmup is vital and activating your abdominals is really a key to your game.”

During the games after the Pilates sessions, there are no so-called ringers despite the various levels of players.

Photo courtesy of Susan Forsyth
About a dozen women show up for the weekly classes.

“We have a good healthy competition with everyone,” Sumner said.

While there was some talk of discontinuing classes, Sumner said she got solid feedback from some regulars opposing that idea.

“We enjoy it. It’s a routine we all have,” Riordan said. Sumner and Smith have played in a few pickleball tourneys, sometimes together and other times with different partners. Sumner’s background includes high school lacrosse along with racquetball, yoga and swimming. Smith played basketball, baseball, football and ran track.

“We’re very competitive with one another,” Sumner said.


Times Total Media Correspondent

Photos courtesy of Alex Jones, Tampa Pickleball Crew, and Susan Forsyth

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