Like so many, I first came to Pilates because I had a bad back. My story begins in my childhood.
I was passionate about gymnastics in my school years. At the age of about 11, whilst training for a gymnastic competition, I fell off a vaulting horse, landed flat on my coccyx and cracked it. There was no treatment accept rest. I managed to continue my sports through school but always suffered from back pain. Little did I know how this amount of impact and ‘shift’ in my pelvis was to affect my life.
I started working in my late teens in an office and found the delights of high heels (the wrong thing to wear with a bad back, I know now!!). Although I didn’t realise it at the time, these heels pushed my pelvis forward and exaggerated my lumbar curve, developing more contraction and tightness in this region. They also tightened my calf’s and hamstrings which pulled against my lower back. It wasn’t long before I began to stoop and adopt a new (bad) posture putting even more pressure and strain in my already very vulnerable spine.
I have always been very sporty and enjoyed going to the gym, swimming, and practising Yoga to name a few. With this disciplined routine came injuries but so determined was I to keep fit, I ignored all the warning signs.
It was when I was in my mid-twenties that I first prolapsed a disc in my lumbar.
The pain was excruciating and very debilitating. It took months to recover but only with the aid of an osteopath, kinesiologist, and a physiotherapist. I couldn’t really afford all the treatments, but it was the only way I could get better.
It was my osteopath that recommended Pilates to me, he said that he could continue to ‘fix’ me but without good core muscles I would probably hurt myself badly again….. I knew nothing of Pilates then.
After the pain started to subside. I decided to explore Pilates and found that that thousands of people had managed to improve their back problems from taking up this exercise. Among their other injuries and complaints, they had rebuilt a body they could rely on again. I was encouraged it would help me too.
It only took a few sessions to get me hooked and I realised very quickly that all the gym work that I had done over the years really didn’t suit my body anymore. I stopped going to the gym ... it took a little time to re-educate my mind and convince myself it didn’t need all that adrenaline to make it fit. I use a cross trainer at home now to keep up my cardio fitness.
The Pilates method had helped me immensely, and I was learning so much about my body, what it liked and what it didn’t. Posture is key to a pain free body, flexibility and mobility is essential to keep general fitness. I had been doing Pilates for about one year when I decided to look into training to become a teacher. After some research I chose Body Control Pilates as they have a very good safety record and high standards. I had already experienced the quality of their teachers, so I signed up for the course.
Even though the training was thorough and hard work back in 2005, you never stop learning, and I continue to this day to take courses. Body Control were the first to insist on a standard to ensure all Pilates teachers worldwide were to comply to a level of training and understanding.
Continued development is a strict rule in order to keep your membership. My own development has led me to the large studio equipment designed by Joseph Pilates in the 1930's/40’s. These help a person to re-engage with fundamental and therapeutic movements, right up to an advanced level of a workout. This equipment is accessible to anyone who’d like to try them and can vastly improve your understanding not only the method itself, but also highlights your strengths and weaknesses and your ability to ‘cheat’ without realising it! The upside of this is that you will improve your knowledge, become more bodily aware whilst improving your strength and mobility.