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In 2010, I was desperate to find a solution to my chronic low back pain. I had been suffering from severe low back pain for about twenty-five years after injuring my L5/S1 vertebrae while in the U.S. Navy. I had gone to see a surgeon who told me he did not recommend that I have surgery. He advised me he could not guarantee that I would get relief from my pain and that studies showed for patients who did gain relief through surgery; it was only temporary. He felt that the return for my efforts – a great likelihood of continued pain – was not worth the cost to me – a risky surgery and long painful recovery. My only option was to develop a pain management strategy.

After seeing the surgeon, Pilates training was first suggested to me by my health care provider at the Denver VA. I had only heard about Pilates before but knew very little about it. I have always enjoyed endurance sports, such as running, swimming, and

cycling. My low back pain progressed to sciatic nerve pain in my left leg and numbness in my foot. I stopped running after completing the Denver Half Marathon in 2006,

I passed the Pilates Denver studio every day when it was located on Orchard Road, in Greenwood Village, CO, next door to my office building. It still took me a few months before I took a leap of faith and walked into the studio in April 2010. The staff was great and really dedicated to their work and clients. They were very encouraging in helping me with my recovery.

The discipline of Pilates training taught me the benefit of approaching my rehabilitation in a positive and effective manner. This spilled over into other areas of my life, such as career, endurance sports, and just living a healthy life. 

These benefits include:

Patience – Understanding oneself and body. In whatever you do, you must start from where you realistically are, rather than where you imagine yourself to be or based on where you once were – such as athletes.

Mindfulness – Learning how to focus your effort in a deliberate way and not just going through the motions.

Consistency – Learning and performing the right techniques and performing them to the best of your ability every time.

I have observed much in our popular American culture – especially that directed towards men, reinforces and rewards the attitude that winning and achieving goals at all costs is the most important approach to life. Pilates challenges this view and has proved for me that the journey, the process are just as, if not more important than, the destination or goal. I am now a nationally certified Pilates teacher and own Sewanee Pilates where I teach in Sewanee, TN. I am a writer, and my Pilates practice helps me stay strong physically and mentally as I pursue my craft.

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