49ers superstars turn to South Bay Pilates instructor to elevate performance on the field

Almost six days a week you can find San Francisco 49ers superstars Fred Warner and Javon Kinlaw on an NFL football field.

The remaining day they'll likely be in a South Bay Pilates studio. 

Warner and Kinlaw are two key pieces of the 49ers defense, which currently happens to be one of the best in the NFL. 

Both tell KTVU the normally calm, slow-burn workout that Pilates offers helps to fuel more disruptive performances on the field.

Both Warner and Kinlaw have been taking Pilates at Encore Pilates in Willow Glen for over a year.

"I've been able to do some things I've never been able to do so it gives me superior confidence," Kinlaw said to reporters ahead of the 49ers season. 

 Warner also noticed a difference on the field. 

"The core work is what I've noticed," Warner said. "When I'm out there on the field, I'm able to have more control of my body." 

Warner's wife Sydney introduced him to Pilates and to Jennifer Owens who owns and teaches at the studio.  

"When I met Fred he was my client's husband," Owens said as she laughed. "I was never a football fan."

Now, Owens is a big 49ers fan, and watches as many games as she can.

She's all in for the Niners, and they're all in for her workouts. 

Pilates is one of the most popular workouts in the U.S. right now, but Owens has her own philosophy, and a six-month wait list if you want to take one of her classes. 

"It's the unity of your mind and body," Owens said. "People will say it's about making your muscles long and lean, [but] you can't make your muscles longer. We create veal-like muscle: Lean, dense muscle."

Owens focuses on building trust with her clients first – something she said came easy with Warner and Kinlaw. 

After that, she focuses on foundational strength, using body weight or light resistance, which shuts off big muscle groups and allows small muscles to fire up. What follows is a burn deeper than you can imagine. 

Both Warner, who stands at 6 feet, 3 inches and weighs 229 pounds, and Kinlaw, who towers at 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 320 pounds, says the workout is not for the weak. 

The workout, which KTVU reporter Bailey O'Carroll participated in, is a grind and fires up muscles that many don't know exist.

Seven weeks into the NFL season, Warner credits Owens and Pilates with injury prevention, and Kinlaw credits it for his confidence and rebuilding his physiologic foundation after an injury-ridden start to his career.

Owens got emotional speaking about Kinlaw's much improved health, a clear sign of the relationship the two now share.  

"He was a first round draft pick and for four years… he's been though so much," Owens said. "He never gave up and I was able to introduce him to something that definitely didn't hurt turning things around, I feel so fortunate for that."

The Niners still have a long season ahead of them with aspirations of raising the Lombardi trophy for the first time since the 1994 season. 

Warner and Kinlaw staying healthy and performing at an elite level will be crucial in that quest. 

"My job is to take care of whoever I'm working with," Owens said. "I have to admit, working with the Niners is fun, and I'll be working with more and more of them."