PORTLAND, Ore. -- A Portland woman who spent decades as a circus performer is ready to revolutionize Pilates for senior citizens.

"I've come up with this chair," explained Maria Mankin."There's still a ball to sit on but the maple base secures it, making it safe for those with balance issues."

She calls it the Begin Chair and she's using it in classes at a new studio on Portland's Northeast Fremont.

"We first discovered Pilates from other circus performers," said Maria's husband Danny. "It strengthens the core allowing performers to succeed with stunts."

"I was using my core as a rope walker but didn't even know it," added Maria.

She became a Pilates instructor more than 20 years ago and was inspired by her mom's difficulties to create the chair.

"She was in her 80's and couldn't get out of a chair, now after years of Pilates she's in her 90's and able to travel on her own."

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