WATCHUNG, NJ – While medications can more often than not help cure aches and pains, relief and aiding in one’s ability to return to everyday activities can be found through such alternatives as Pilates and ZHealth Applied Neuroscience Training. At the Watchung-based Pilates Design Studio, clients such as Dr. Alfred E. Cresci, EdD, have learned first hand just how well the exercise method combined with neuroscience drills can help. 

“A good general practitioner diagnoses and prescribes medicine; that is the ‘magic’ of medical science. The techniques of Pilates and ZHealth achieve this magic in a drug-free environment,” said Cresci, who turned to the Johnston Avenue studio owned and run by Green Brook resident Danielle Conner to help reduce discomfort and pain in his lower back and foot just a little over a month ago. 

Pilates is a system of exercises that uses special apparatus designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness and the Pilates Design Studio, offers one-hour, one-on-one instruction as well as group classes, each customized to fit each client’s individual needs. Pilates Design Studio also incorporates the ZHealth Curriculum of Applied Neuroscience Training into their sessions to create better results through brain-based assessments and drills. Thus, bridging the gap between biomechanics and neurobiomechanics for immediate reduction and elimination of pain and for stronger, more efficient movement.

For Cresci, the return of lower back pain while on vacation led him to turn to an unfamiliar chiropractor who, over the course of two consecutive days, performed ‘many of the same manipulations’ as his chiropractor but in a much rougher manner. “His rather harsh pulling on my leg and particularly my right foot accomplished two things: I felt less soreness in my back, but an enormous amount of discomfort in my foot,” said Cresci, adding that over the days that followed, he was unable to walk more than 10 feet without experiencing severe pain and, to make matters worse, the discomfort in his back also returned. “Now I had two simultaneous situations that severely affected my way of life,” he said. 

Looking for relief, Cresci next turned to a surgical podiatrist, who diagnosed him as having a sprain in the navicular bone located on the right side of his right foot. Cresci said he underwent a series of painful injections and a battery of X-rays and ultrasound treatments, received a prescription for an MRI, and was fitted for a ‘costly’ pair of orthodics that could have injured his back further down the road. 

“The most upsetting parts of this experience were that the podiatrist did not rule out the possibility of surgery, although I proclaimed it not to be an option, and after simple research, I learned that the navicular bone is located on the median of the foot, that is, on the interior part,” Cresci said, noting that he was left asking himself ‘what is going on her?’ and ‘where do I go next?’ “Podiatry was clearly not the solution.”

Fortunately, Cresci’s wife Liz had herself turned to Conner and the Pilates Design Studio several years earlier and suggested he give it a try. “By this time, I was nearly crippled, and considered purchasing a cane to get around if even on a limited basis,” he said. 

“When Al first came in, he described his foot pain was at a level eight and he was limping. After a half hour of assessing him through the ZHealth Method, I was able to get his pain level down from a level eight to a level one and he no longer was limping,” Conner said. 

Connor was also able to determine that there really was nothing wrong with his foot but rather that the problem was still within his back and the pain was landing in his foot. “By the fourth session his foot was 100-percent pain free,” she said, adding, “We are now working on eliminating his back pain and strengthening his body to keep the back pain away for good.”

“Speaking with Danielle, I informed her about what happened and how I was feeling [and] within 30 minutes, she concluded that the cause of my foot pain was solely from my lower back, and recommended that at this juncture, chiropractic care was not the solution,” added Cresci. 

Under Conner’s lead, a series of exercises such as lumbar rotations, pelvic curls, hip circles, shoulder blade glides and circles, and various back extensions, soon became part of Cresci’s daily routine, and within three sessions, the Piscataway resident said he was able to walk further and even run a short distance. 

“Slowly, I began to improve,” he said, adding that he was able to return to the gym, with ‘simple walking on the treadmill and exercising on the elliptical now possible for the first time in four months.’

“Following the fourth visit to Danielle, my foot is now 100-percent cured. I am able to walk for miles with absolutely no pain, my back feels better than it has in years, and we are now moving forward with routines to strengthen my core muscles,” he said. 

The fully equipped Pilates Design Studio, which opened in November 2011, offers Pilates for fitness and rehabilitation for all age groups and physical abilities. Additionally, it is the only Pilates studio in New Jersey that offers Body Balance suspension training and Neuroscience based drills through the Zhealth Education System to help stop chronic pain and create efficient movement patterns.

According to Conner, those who do Pilates regularly feel they have better posture, are less prone to injury, and experience better overall health. Whether you come to us because of injury or for fitness, we teach you how to work within your body to achieve the goals you want,” she said. “My certified instructors and I are very well versed in anatomy and how the body moves.”

“Many visits over the years to chiropractic doctors have taught me that pain in an area of the body isn’t necessarily at the location of the cause; just as the brain experiences synaptic connections that control the mental thoughts and process-solving abilities, as well as physical muscle movements and the like, pain and discomfort can be traced to a myriad of problems often undetected by the patient,” said Cresci. “And there are occasions where medical science and chiropractic techniques fail or cause greater pain and the feeling of despair.”

”The techniques of Pilates and ZHealth under the gifted instruction of Danielle Conner provide an effective alternative to doctor visits, corrective devices, diagnostic testing, medications and chiropractic adjustments,” he continued, adding that he is happy to testify to the ‘efficacy of Pilates and ZHealth’ and ‘recommends it to others who have experienced similar problems.’ 

Pilates Design Studio, located at 7 Johnston Drive in Watchung (near the Watchung Circle), is open seven-days a week. All clients new are offered and encouraged to take a complimentary private class. For scheduling and class times visit or call (908) 731-5987. 

To find out more about Danielle Conner and Pilates Design Studio, visit  or visit

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