Recently some of my clients were discussing how long they had been practicing Pilates which led me to wonder which one of my clients had been coming to my studio the longest. That honour goes to Joanna who has now been coming to Pilates twice weekly since her Initial Assessment with me on 3rd February 2006. At the time of writing, she has been practicing Pilates at my studio for just over 13.5 years. At 61 years young, she often says she feels so much fitter and stronger now than she did 15 years ago and she is constantly increasing her fitness all the time.
She is a perfect example of how patience, persistence and consistency really pay off and Pilates has become a way of life for her.
What Brought Joanna To Pilates?
It was during a very stressful time in her life that Joanna made the decision to start Pilates with me. She had been attending a Pilates mat class but knew she needed something more personalised to achieve her goals. Having taught both her daughters dance for several years previously, she had heard that I had recently set up a Pilates studio and booked an appointment.
When I assessed her, she was carrying so much tension in her neck and shoulders that she could barely turn her head. It looked like her shoulders were glued to her neck and the whole area was very painful for her. She had high blood pressure, foot pain and at 47 years old she knew she had to take action now.
The Early Years
In the beginning, in addition to focussing on core and glute work and improving posture, we focussed on strengthening and releasing her neck and shoulders so she was more comfortable. This took some work as Joanna liked to put in far too much effort into all her movements. Pilates is about working smarter not harder which is the opposite of going to the gym and putting in a huge amount of physical effort. Learning to reduce the effort can take some practice but once Joanna was able to cut back her effort everything started falling into place for her and there was no stopping her! Her body awareness increased and she became pain-free. Her stress levels decreased, her confidence grew and I was continually introducing her to new challenges and with twice-weekly sessions, she enjoyed a large variety of exercises.
What Does She Enjoy Most About Pilates?
In addition to the high level of physical fitness she has attained, Joanna loves the mind-body aspect of Pilates and finds it almost a meditative experience which combined with the breathing helps her to keep her stress levels under control. She always feels relaxed but energised after a session. While she is capable of many advanced exercises, one of her all-time favorite exercises is Arm Openings pictured above, as it helps keep her upper spine mobile, opens up her chest and ribs while promoting relaxation. Another benefit is that she is so highly trained now that when any issue arises, she has the knowledge to manage it and get back to being pain-free fast, as her body is very responsive and it knows the way back to health. She also uses my Online Pilates Studio, JS Mind Body Pilates
as back-up between sessions and has access to it when she travels if needed.
Earlier this year following a long cramped, overnight plane flight home, she was left with back pain. Upon arrival at home, she was able to go back to basics on my Online program so by the time I saw her in the studio she was on top of the back pain and ready to proceed with her usual program.
Where To From Here?
Sometimes Joanna wonders what her life would be like if she had never discovered Pilates and based on what she was dealing with at her Assessment all those years ago, neither of us likes to think about it too much. She sees people her own age or even younger who are losing their fitness, struggling to get down on the ground at a park to have a picnic for example and she is grateful that she has invested time and effort into taking control of her own health and fitness. She enjoys walking her dog Bruno and challenging walks with family and friends in the city and bushwalks in the Blue Mountains. She also has a mini-trampoline at home for some extra movement when she feels she needs it. Staying fit and active ensures Joanna can enjoy the best quality of life possible and it's been so rewarding for me to assist her on her Pilates journey and I look forward to seeing her go from strength to strength in the future.
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