Stick with Pilates, Reap the Rewards
May 02, 2021
One of the advantages of having had my Pilates studio for almost 16 years now, is that I get to see the all remarkable benefits that people experience when they practice Pilates for the long term. Pilates is definitely something that requires consistency and as the majority of my clients have been attending classes with me for many years, mostly around the 8 to 14 year mark, they are ideal examples of what making Pilates a way of life looks like. I had a very interesting experience last year when I received a call from a former client who had attended my studio almost 10 years ago and was wanting to restart Pilates again. Nicole, as I'll call her, had only attended classes for around 3 months with the goal of overcoming lower back pain and once she was pain-free began cancelling and gradually decreasing her sessions until she left altogether. We talked on the phone and not surprisingly her lower back pain had returned plus a range of other painful conditions as well. She was hoping she could pick up where she left off. I decided to conduct some research and I looked through my files and found a client of similar age who had started Pilates around the same time as Nicole but is still doing Pilates with me today. I'll call her Michelle and compare their individual Pilates journeys'.
Nicole's Pilates Journey
When we discussed Nicole's return to Pilates she told me that had always felt good after Pilates and was so happy to have overcome her nagging lower back pain but life got in the way and she had stopped her sessions. Since I had seen her she had been gradually deteriorating over the years and was experiencing foot pain, had injured her shoulder which made lifting her arm challenging and turning her head painful and she had recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis. Including the recurrence of the original back pain, this was quite a confronting list of issues to deal with. However, she knew I had helped her overcome her back pain before and was hopeful she would be able to achieve the same results again.
While it's never too late to start Pilates, it was such a shame that she hadn't continued when she had made good progress 10 years ago. It's entirely possible to overcome or manage these conditions but the older you are and the more issues you have the more challenging your Pilates journey will be. She began sessions with me but after 2 sessions she decided that it was going to be too hard to regain her health and fitness. She was initially in her early 50s when she started and now in her early 60s, everything was so much more of a struggle than it was 10 years ago. Other than walking occasionally for 20 mins she hadn't done any other movement or exercise since I last saw her. She anticipated the road ahead was going to be challenging and she was mentally unable to face it. I sometimes wonder what her life would be like if she had continued with Pilates instead of living on painkillers which is not a long-term solution. I'm just so sorry for her that she wasn't able to commit to Pilates to achieve the results she was looking for. So let's look at what could have been possible for Nicole when we see what Michelle has achieved.
Michelle's Pilates journey
Michelle had a shoulder injury and was having trouble turning her head when she started Pilates with me around the same time as Nicole. Also in her early 50s, she had foot pain but unlike Nicole had pelvic floor issues and weak abdominals from 2 caesarian-section births, 20 years earlier. Michelle was committed to her Pilates training and attended sessions twice weekly from the beginning. She progressed slowly but steadily and at around the 3 month mark her shoulder pain was under control and she could turn her head freely. She had strengthened and stretched her feet sufficiently to be pain-free through her feet. Her pelvic floor issues were greatly improved and she had gained enough abdominal strength that her posture was better and she was loving the relaxation element of each of her sessions. Unlike Nicole, she continued with Pilates and she has gone from strength to strength. She not only overcame her health issues but enjoyed a new level of fitness that she had only ever dreamed about. Now in her early 60s, she continues to get stronger with each passing year. She has added challenging daily walks to her routine and follows JS Mind Body Pilates my online Pilates studio
between weekly sessions with me on Skype. In the last few years, she has added swimming to her schedule and finds swimming laps very calming. If she has flare-ups of foot pain or neck and shoulder pain, she has the Pilates knowledge & skills to get back on track in no time. She has commented to me on numerous occasions that she feels very empowered having these unique skills. Because she has been doing Pilates for so long now, her body responds quickly and she recovers from minor flare-ups in no time. Pilates has definitely become a way of life for her and one I know she wouldn't be without. So if Pilates consistency is key to becoming pain-free and moving with ease, why is Michelle committed to her training but Nicole gave up?
How can you stay consistent with Pilates?
People who are dealing with pain are usually strongly motivated to commit to Pilates in order to become pain-free and regain their lives. However, the real test comes once they are pain-free. This the danger zone and Nicole was at this point when she drifted away from Pilates the first time. Instead of continuing and going from strength to strength like Michelle, Nicole stopped her training and was only motivated to return when she was suffering from multiple painful conditions. Pilates is so much more effective if you start your training and then keep going consistently. Not only will you be stronger, fitter and more flexible than ever before, you will also be well equipped to deal with any pain flare-ups, unexpected surgery or accidental injury that usually occurs throughout life. You can also actively work to prevent further injury from occurring in the future. Thankfully, my current long-term clients who all made the decision to stick with Pilates for the long term, appreciate the value Pilates adds to their lives and are living, active, independent lives well into their retirement years. Michelle has been making slow and steady progress at Pilates for more than 10 years now but Nicole will look for other solutions to her pain such as pain medication and possibly surgery. Like anything worthwhile, it takes time to see the benefits of Pilates and for most people, it's usually around the 2 or 3 month mark that this occurs. It's not a quick fix and some people are looking for instant relief. If you are willing to invest the time and money and be consistent with your Pilates training you are really investing in your own health and wellbeing both now and for your future. Personally, I can't think of a better investment than this!
I often think about Nicole and others like her over the years who weren't able to make the commitment required to be consistent with their Pilates training and wonder what their quality of life is like now. Many people don't know Pilates can be a solution to their pain so it's such a shame when people like Nicole become pain-free through Pilates but then don't continue. It's like being given a golden opportunity to a pain-free life and just throwing it away. As Michelle will tell you, Pilates has been one of the best parts of her life and she is so grateful for the life-changing results she has experienced. If you are dealing with pain and want to become pain-free with Pilates too, you can take the free 10 day trial
now for JS Mind Body Pilates online. Alternatively, if you have any questions about getting started, send me an email at [email protected]
. Thanks to Nicole and Michelle, you can see that sticking with Pilates really does reap rewards!