The heart and soul of Kona Pilates is a dynamic husband and wife team who are talented professionals with a passionate commitment to the restorative and healing power of mindful movement and manual/massage.
Steve Von Hargett, LMT, COTT
"The Vision for the Studio was born out of hope and the lessons of a severe, potentially life-altering, injury and its subsequent multi-layered total rehabilitation."
A message from Laura...
I love transforming my client's lives through GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® sessions mixed with a healthy dose of Contemporary Pilates, while weaving in my vast and deep well of knowledge (both Eastern and Western) of Yoga, Breathwork and Chi Kung allowing me to offer my client's a depth of study and experience rarely found. My sessions are playful, educational, inspiring, and transformational. I believe that health comes from harmony of mind, body and spirit, and that exercise is a vehicle for self exploration, healing, wholeness, and joy. For me, teaching the joy of mindful movement is my life’s path and I look forward to sharing this gift with you. Mahalo nui loa.
About Laura ~
As a third generation Los Angelean, Laura Crittendon first developed the love and joy of mindful movement while studying ballet, modern dance, choreography, martial arts and theatre as a child and teen in Arcadia, California.
Laura's first job at age 17, following a severe skiing accident, was as a physical therapy assistant at the very same sports rehab center in Arcadia where she received therapy to heal her injuries. She had the honor of working with several amazing Therapists who taught her how movement changes neuropathways in the brain, gut and spinal cord and how movement can heal and strengthen from the inside out. At the rehab center, Laura worked with all levels of rehabilitation from athletes to stroke patients. Laura was deeeply moved by the progress she witnessed her patients make as they recovered from life altering injuries and illnesses. So Laura chose to pursue a career that would deepen her understanding of the way the human body is intended to move and heal and that would allow her to share this gift with more people outside of the physical therapy realm. This journey began with Pre-Med school, Massage School, Graduate School and finally opening Kona Pilates and GYROTONIC.
Laura and her husband Steve shared their love of helping people heal and transform their bodies and lives through mindful movement and massage in their home base of Kailua Kona, Hawaii for 24 years. Laura and Steve worked with clients of all ages, including those with neurodiversities, older adults, athletes, dancers, performers, artists, people with injuries (TBI, whiplash, broken bones, sprains, strains, etc.), and individuals from all walks of life and abilities.
Laura is grateful to now share her passion and love of mindful movement at Kona Pilates and Gyrotonic of Chino Hills. Her passion is empowering others to connect with themselves and teaching them how to create new patterns of movement, creating space for transformation.
Professional Training: To date, Laura has accumulated over 30 years experience and thousands of hours of advanced clinical training and education in body-mind-spirit health, therapeutic exercise, and manual/massage therapy. She is Hawaii state licensed and board certified as an Integrative Medical Massage Therapist and Movement Therapist. Laura graduated from the Hawaiian Islands School of Massage with 1,250 hours of advanced training in Vodder Manual Lymphatic Drainage, CranioSacral, Myofascial, NeuroMuscular, and Exercise Therapies. In 2002, she graduated as Valedictorian from the University of Hawaii with an Honors degree in Psychology, a minor in Hawaiian, and a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling. In graduate school Laura studied Transpersonal Psychology, Mind-Body Medicine, Integrative Health, and Consciousness Studies. Laura has trained with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) founder Jon Kabat-Zinn. In addition, she trained professionally as a Transpersonal Psychotherapist, a professional Hula dancer (having danced in three Merrie Monarch Hula Festival/Competitions under Kumu Hula Etua Lopez), professional belly dancer, cabaret dancer/choreographer and show producer, 2nd degree black belt martial arts instructor and martial arts school owner. Laura is a Resident Dance Movement Therapist/Master Teacher for HD Dance Co & Performing Arts in Corona. Laura has been honored to be a visiting Master Teacher for a variety of Corporations and Wellness-oriented academies across Southern California and Hawaii. Passionate about community service, Laura has volunteered thousands of hours working with the severely mentally ill in Kona and served for three years on the Board of Directors for a local Kailua Kona non-profit organization.
Steve is a comprehensively trained, internationally licensed STOTT Pilates® Instructor, trained extensively in the STOTT Pilates Rehabilitation Program (with head physical therapist Melanie Byford-Young). (He also holds the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt Instructor in mixed martial arts). Steve brings to the Studio a unique blend of knowledge and expertise of movement and the mind-body connection. Steve is the head instructor at our sister school Hawaii Freestyle Martial Arts (bringing character development and fitness to the youth and young-at-heart of Kailua-Kona.)
As a movement instructor, Steve brings to the Studio a unique blend of knowledge and expertise of movement and the mind-body connection. He exemplifies how Pilates helps an "X-games" athlete (surfing, motocross, skateboarding, BMX, kickboxing) age gracefully and perform better (as well as rehabilitate from injuries and surgeries as a result of sports injuries).
As a massage therapist, Steve specializes in Onsen® Structural Manual Therapy sessions (aligning the human structure so that the movement arts have their greatest affect). Steve is the only Hawaii Certified Onsen Technique® Therapist. In addition, Steve is our "shoulder specialist" (Both for learning new patterns of movement as well as therapy treatments to address chronic pain and decreased function). Steve's specialty is combining Onsen Therapy with the Movement Art of Pilates so that what is released and balanced during the bodywork session can be re-educated into proper bio-mechanical movement to ensure pain-free results that last.
Why we opened
Kona Pilates & GYROTONIC...
Laura had been teaching Yoga, Mindful Movement, Hula, and Strength Training, along with doing massage therapy, at a resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. In 1999 Laura was training for her 1st degree black belt in mixed martial arts along with preparing for her third Hula competition. While rushing to work one day, a work injury (slip and fall) left Laura with a "severely" herniated disk and a torn disk in her low back, several bulging cervical disks, and a tear in her shoulder joint along with unrelenting pain. Barely able to walk, sit or get dressed without pain, she feared she'd not be able to test for her black belt and/or continue training for the upcoming dance competition. She knew mindful movement would help her heal these injuries just as they helped to heal the injuries of her past patients. However, Laura found that her lifelong practice of Yoga and strength training only aggravated her back condition, but did not understand why (at the time). A friend suggested Pilates equipment training. Pilates taught her an important lesson: extrinsic strength (big muscles) is different than intrinsic strength and stability (small "core" muscles around the spine and joints). Laura had developed great extrinsic strength (she owned two Gold's Gyms in Southern California training bodybuilding and fitness competitors) yet had insufficient strength in her deep core and joint stability muscles which made her more prone to injury - thus the severity of her injuries from one fall. Through a combination of studying and training/certification in STOTT PILATES®, the Australian Method of Spinal Stabilization and Rehabilitation training, neuromuscular and myofascial massage (along with Mindfulness meditation and Chi Kung), Laura found she was able to heal her injuries and continue her active lifestyle. She has successfully tested for two black belts with these rehabilitated injuries and took first place in her black belt division as well as first place over all in a Creative Forms Competition in 2000 (photo at right) and danced in multiple Hula and dance shows and competitions.
In 2003, Steve was introduced to STOTT PILATES® and Massage through his wife Laura. Steve watched as these modalities allowed his wife to move from a place of fear and pain to ease and freedom. These same modalities later helped Steve to quickly and completely recover from a major shoulder surgery. His joint was re-built following several dislocations due to Moto-cross injuries (yes, that's Steve jumping his race bike high in the air). Steve's surgeon at Queen's Hospital was shocked with how quickly and completely Steve was able to rehabilitate his shoulder. He was intrigued to learn more how Pilates and Massage made that possible. STOTT PILATES® and Massage also help to keep the nagging injuries that he experienced through years of intense sports (motocross, skateboarding, soccer, and kickboxing competitions) at bay.
In 2005, Laura and Steve were introduced to the GYROTONIC® Methodology by Instructor-Trainer Matt McCulloch, Owner of Kinected (formerly with Pilates on Fifth) in New York City. Both found that the circular, spiraling, and undulating movements of GYROTONIC exercise showed them places that their bodies weren't moving since their accidents/surgeries (ways that had remained hidden with Martial Arts, Pilates and Yoga). Steve and Laura became certified GYROTONIC Trainers (and Laura a licensed GYROTONIC pre-trainer). By adding GYROTONIC exercise to their lives, both have found joy and ease in pleasurable fluid movement and enjoy assisting others in finding the same feeling.
In 2017, Steve and Laura moved back to Southern California to be closer to their son and their family. And they brought all of their knowledge and expertise with them. The studio is now open in Chino Hills and ready to change more lives.
"May the beauty of what we love be what we do." --- Rumi
Laura Crittendon, LMT, DMT, CYT
Studio Master Trainer / Owner
Meet our Owners
Steve Von Hargett has over 18 years experience teaching movement and 7,000+ hours of training in therapeutic exercise and massage/manual therapy. He is state licensed and board certified as an Integrative Medical and Manual Massage Therapist and is the Studio co-owner. He graduated from the Hawaiian Islands School of Massage with advanced training in NeuroMuscular, Spinal Muscle Therapies, and Structural Manual Therapy techniques. Steve applies a firm pressure in his work, yet balanced with incredible sensitivity and "amazing heat" (healing Chi Kung) from his hands. As a full scholarship recipient, Steve's undergraduate education was in the fine arts giving him "an eye" for proper structural alignment in both movement and massage.