Safety and Magic Go Hand-in-hand

by Samantha Wood

Safety is everything in Pilates and knowing how to deal correctly with clients suffering from  injuries or chronic conditions can often make the difference between a great instructor and one who, at best, doesn’t aggravate an existing condition.

Many of the workshops in BASI’s Advanced Education program focus on clients with specific needs – and two of the most important are coming up shortly. Pilates for Chronic Pain, presented by Kathryn Russell, will be in Costa Mesa on March 16 and Bone Smart: Pilates for Osteoporosis, presented by Teresa Maldonado Marchok, MPT, will be in Aptos CA on the same day.

I had the pleasure of participating in each of these workshops last year and I can’t say enough good things about them. They should be on the calendar of every serious Pilates teacher.

Kathryn and Teresa will be joining an advanced education program that has really started off the new year with a bang! Rael’s Ultimate Pilates and Karen Clippinger’s Hip & Knee Biomechanics on the Reformer workshops both sold out in Costa Mesa, while my Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies course made a very successful Canadian debut in Vancouver.

If you missed any of them, don’t worry! Rael will be back in Costa Mesa with Pilates for Men in May, Karen will be teaching later in the year in Chicago and Seattle, and Pilates for Injuries & Pathologies will be in Philadelphia in April and Costa Mesa in October.

As has become traditional, we’ll be starting summer with Rael’s Mentor Program. If you have been thinking about embarking on this voyage of discovery to the extreme edges of the Method, now is your opportunity. It is truly an amazing experience!

Kathryn Russell adds:

Although the Pilates Method has been around for a very long time, its position in popular culture is fairly new. In the rush to introduce it to the general public, the message went out that Pilates gave you flat abs, a strong core and a toned body. And so the rush began, as people hurried to Pilates studios to cash in on all of these fine promises.

In some cases classes were designed around a limited number of Pilates exercises, mainly focusing on abdominal work, that ensured the “burn” that many clients believed was necessary to get a “good workout”. And that, of course, misses the point, because Pilates is so much more. It changes the way you wear your body. The reason for a strong core isn’t simply to flatten your abdominals, but to strengthen you from the inside out.

My work with clients with chronic pain has shown me over and over again how valuable the Pilates Method is in training efficient movement, improving balance and promoting a positive body image. Chronic pain degrades normal movement patterns, as the body tries to accommodate weakened muscles or disrupted neurological messages. With Pilates, I have been able to correct ankle glide and strengthen adductors to help my clients regain normal gait patterns. Pilates exercises that strengthen the shoulder girdle muscles, along with the abdominal muscles, allow clients to stand tall again.

In my Pilates for Chronic Pain Syndromes workshop, I demonstrate modifications to the traditional exercises that allow people with limited movement to develop the strength and control to perform Pilates exercises without modifications and to feel strong when they leave the studio. Although these modifications were developed for people with pain syndromes that in most cases will never go away, they can be used for all “fragile” clients – seniors, pregnant women, or clients recovering from an injury.

“Wearing your body differently” takes on a whole new meaning when it allows you to move around this world with less pain and awkwardness.   Having flat abs is nice, but standing up straight with little pain  – that’s Pilates magic.

Read Teresa Maldonado Marchok’s description of her Bone Smart: Pilates for Osteoporosis workshop.

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