When I first delved into the pages of Gray’s Anatomy, transversus abdominus, part of the core, was not even mentioned and iliopsoas was described as a weak flexor (forward mover of the hip). Fast forward 36 years (gulp!) and now everyone has heard of one’s core and no one mispronounces Pilates anymore.
Thinking back, I probably started to be aware of Pilates in the late 80’s/early 90’s. I was certainly recommending it to some of my back-pain clients by the time I started my own practice in 1993. Back then, the nearest place I knew of any classes was up in London at the Pineapple Dance Studios. It fast became one of the disciplines I wanted to see in my dream of a multi-disciplinary clinic, but it took many years before we were able to work with Pilates teachers.
Then in 2000 Glen and Elisa Withers (2 physios) founded the Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute and we recruited our first physio, who was trained by this organisation. This was all about Pilates in a rehab setting. Having a clinician who was both a Chartered Physiotherapist and a Pilates teacher meant that we could extend target orientated exercises to help with the initial rehab of a patient, beyond this, into a class setting for a client who continued to learn about recovery from injury and injury prevention, through developing a better and deeper understanding of Pilates and how it could benefit them now and into the future.
We started offering 6-week courses as “Rehab after Rehab”. Initially, we thought of this as bridging the gap from being a patient to back to “life”, whatever that life meant. A sort of hand holding exercise to improve confidence in the ability to exercise again, as well as gaining the benefits of Pilates.
Some clients came and went, happy and confident to resume their activities with a background knowledge of Pilates to aid them. Pilates is useful for everyone but it can be targeted at specific groups and help with their needs, eg for cyclists, runners and skiers. So, in Rehab Pilates you can adapt your teaching to suit the needs of the individual for injury recovery and a prevention of further injury.
Some clients stayed and have been regular attendees and advocates of our classes for years, still finding that they gain daily benefit from regular participation, knowing that we know all the “ifs and buts” of their bodies. We have their trust in us helping them look after themselves.
So how did I get personally involved? Well in growing a business, I was working officially towards the target of working on the business rather than in it. Although, I always wanted to be able to continue using my professional skills, I never wanted to move away from that job satisfaction. We kept building up the Pilates side of the business only to lose physios with the passage of time, to relocating or moving forward with their own lives, which meant, disappointed clients and thwarting our plans and as they say “if a job’s worth doing, do it yourself” – so I did!
I completed the APPI course, passed my exams and became a fully certified teacher of the Modified Pilates Rehabilitation Programme in 2011.
It has added to my practice in ways I wasn’t expecting and every course I continue to attend (and we have to keep up our CPD – Continued Professional Development- in order to keep our qualification) is extremely well taught. I always try to use elements of Pilates within my Physiotherapy role as well as extending it beyond the clinic room to see final end-stage rehab and Pilates clients getting back to whatever they want to do in life. As for my own life, I practise Pilates to help keep myself fit and I even took time out back in 2014 for part of my 50th birthday and went to Marrakesh for a long weekend of Pilates, organised by a fellow APPI instructor, which was great fun. It is well worth going back to the classroom!
Update February 2021 – Read also Peta Bee’s article in The Times 9th January 2021 – How to stay fit in middle age – The Fitness Coaches’ Guide. She said that: “There is no single type of exercise that addresses everything and no magic workout that cannot be complemented by another activity.” Of Pilates, Peta does say: “It speaks volumes that Physiotherapists love it and I (Peta) see it as a means of getting strength, flexibility and injury prevention training in one hit.” I couldn’t agree more Peta.