ShadowBox Pilates: Amanda Duckstein Brings Workout To Water Mill

Photo by Cameron Burton

Amanda Duckstein, the founder of ShadowBox Pilates, has been teaching fully comprehensive Pilates for over 13 years across various locations, including Baltimore, Manhattan, Nashville, Westchester, and the Hamptons. She recently opened a studio in Water Mill, so we caught up with her to learn more.

Could you tell us about your background in the fitness and wellness industry?

I grew up practicing different sports and athletics. Movement was always a major part of my life, and I knew my purpose in this world was to somehow help people. I took my first Pilates class in 2006 and thought to myself, “Okay, so this is how I am going to help people. I am going to teach Pilates and help them get strong — I am going to be the nicest Pilates instructor this world has ever seen.” I signed up for multiple certification courses and have now been teaching Pilates for 14 years. It has been so wonderful seeing my students develop a more confident energy with every class they take.

You recently opened a studio in Water Mill. Can you tell us about the space?

The site for Shadowbox Pilates was a major labor of love. We are in a large space (with a ton of natural light) on Montauk Highway adjacent to the Water Mill Post Office. We have 10 reformer-towers with jumpboards and small props. We have an infrared sauna room and a retail room that has been curated with branded merchandise and wellness items like dry brushes, hair oil, palo santo, etc. Originally, I wanted the space to be a holistic haven, so I have a ton of greenery, salt lamps, and I’m lighting palo santo and copal daily to bring all the high vibrations. So far, they have been working.

Photo by Cameron Burton

What does a ShadowBox Pilates workout entail?

We offer four class formats, two of which include shadowboxing at the end of the class (sparring in space in a way that makes students feel powerful and energized). ShadowBox Pilates is the 60-minute signature class in which we do 45 minutes of athletic reformer Pilates plus 15 minutes of shadowboxing with light weights. The ShadowAir class is a jumpboard circuit class in which we are rebounding off of the jumpboard to gain an endurance challenging element to Pilates, plus a fun shadowboxing component at the end of class. ShadowReformer is 50 minutes of classical meets athletic reformer Pilates, ShadowTower is 50 minutes on an elevated mat, and we use springs to challenge strength and flexibility, improving the body’s connection to the mind. Every class except ShadowAir is prenatal friendly.

I added the concept of shadowboxing into these classes because it is a workout that makes me feel strong and powerful and that is how I want my students to feel. Students have always told me consistently taking my classes has helped them to discover their self-confidence that was hiding deep inside, so I’m embracing that and running with it, fast. Plus, Joseph Pilates was a boxer before he invented Contrology, which is a nice little cherry on top.

What is the ShadowBox Pilates philosophy?

ShadowBox Pilates’ philosophy is to practice movement in a way that empowers us to be our most authentic selves and to dig deep to honor our own self-confidence. We learn to be the greatest source of magic in our life which transcends through movement and the mind’s connection to the body. I want my students to feel strong in their bodies, confident in their souls, and believe that they can do anything. Over the years, so many of my students have inspired me to be a better teacher, so I want to inspire them to be the best version of themselves.

Through the Pilates Method Alliance and National Pilates Certification Program, you specialize in pre- and postnatal Pilates, neurological specialties, and osteoporosis. Can you tell us more about this?

I take continuing education courses because science is always learning more about the body, and I want to keep growing as an instructor and as a student. I appreciate teaching students with certain specialities existing in the body because they are really interested in learning the detail of the work and pay attention to how their bodies respond to movement so that they can feel their best.

Teaching Pre and Postnatal Pilates is so fun! These students need Pilates to help them stay connected with the abdominals, maintain control of the pelvic floor, practice alignment and use their breath efficiently while they are carrying a cherished life inside of them. I have worked with clients with neurological contraindications that affect the way their bodies move and how they are able to connect their mind with the movements. I have seen a lot of success with clients working through the controlled aspects of Pilates to gain better control and alignment of their bodies. Pilates is great for different variations of osteoporosis (especially the jumpboard). Weight bearing exercises are so important for improving bone health and density. Again, I’m not just providing a fitness experience, but I’m hoping that through movement, I can help to enrich people’s lives and help them feel like the best version of themselves.

What are your goals for summer 2024?

Stop by the beach every day, witness every full moon rise, solidify a few events I have planned at the studio, and make at least one person’s day a little better every single day.

Jessica Mackin-Cipro


Jessica Mackin-Cipro is an editor and lifestyle writer from the East End of Long Island. She has won NYPA and PCLI awards for journalism and social media. She was previously the Executive Editor of The Independent Newspaper.

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