“You look fabulous!” I exclaimed to one of my girlfriends several years ago, while bumping into her unexpectedly. This particular friend, you see, always looked good. She regularly ran, cycled, lifted weights with a personal trainer and did yoga to boot. But, when I saw her that day, she looked particularly good. I had to ask her what she had been doing—differently? Without missing a beat, she announced, “pilates.” That was it; I had to start doing THAT.
Thus, I’ll have to admit, my personal pilates journey began shallowly; I was just interested in the visible benefits. Like my friend, I too was an avid cyclist, an active 5K and half marathon runner and even (once!) a triathlete. I had been a gymnast and a diver (before college) and had always been passionate about nutrition and health. So, I didn’t consider myself to be out-of shape, when I started group reformer sessions with my friend at a local pilates studio.
However, I was wrong. Though I didn’t “look” out of shape on the outside, I was noticeably deconditioned on the inside. My muscles would shake and the back of my legs would burn in basic exercises that seemed rudimentary to the rest of the class. The class session also made me acutely aware of the inflexibility of my hamstrings, the weakness in my arms, and the lack of stability in my shoulders. Already having a gym membership, I considered the pilates class to be “extravagant” and only allowed myself to attend class once a week. However, as time passed, I realized that the classes were really helping me and I enjoyed them so much that I just had to indulge myself with reformer classes twice a week.
To my surprise, I found that pilates was actually further “rehabilitating” my right shoulder.
Prior to starting my reformer classes, I thought that I had recovered (all that I could) from a prior cycling injury to that shoulder—stemming from being struck by a deer while on the Katy Trail (yes, it happened and I lived to tell about it). I received several steroid injections, physical therapy and massage therapy (which did work wonders). I felt better but did not feel 100%. I credit pilates for getting me over the final “hump” to fully strengthen and stabilize my shoulder. Pilates also helped me deal with stress and chronic neck and shoulder pain from my “desk job” at that time. Though I was feeling good, I knew that I could feel even better, if I had a deeper understanding of what I was doing.
Thus, I began my pilates instructor certification (while still working a full-time job). I continued to take classes, practiced on a studio reformer I purchased for my home, student taught (both in my home and at a local studio).
Having a natural calling to teach (anything; oldest child…) and pilates (specifically), I left my full-time job to complete the rigorous training needed to be awarded the title of “qualified instructor of comprehensive pilates” by Balanced Body University, which I received in 2010 at The Pilates & Yoga Center of St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri. In March 2011, I opened my own studio, Open Studio Pilates, in Columbia, Missouri. Then in 2012, I went on to become a Certified Pilates Teacher–PMA®-CPT–by the Pilates Method Alliance.
So—if you’re looking into pilates for the visible benefits of a long, lean, dancerly (is that a word?) physique—I understand. If you’re looking into pilates because you too have a friend who “looks fabulous” and you want to do the same, I can relate. But—don’t be surprised—if along the way, you just plain start feeling fabulous. And, yes, you can thank me but we would both really have to thank Joe (Pilates) and all of the other pilates teachers I have had the privilege of knowing, studying with, practicing with, getting it wrong with/getting it right with, etc. What you will ultimately learn is that pilates is not a destination (though, thanks to my husband, my studio is cool..) but a journey and a humbling one at that. I invite you to join me on my journey. I invite you to start your own journey. Come join me at Open Studio Pilates and let the adventure begin!
Laura Detert, PMA®-CPT
Open Studio Pilates Founder/Owner & PMA® Certified Pilates Teacher