Pilates After Being Crushed By a Van

15 years ago a beautiful woman, in her late 50’s, painfully slide out of her car in my driveway and slowly made her way to the front door of the studio. I watched as she painfully made her way up the three steps. Each movement was measured and with such care. I knew that this was how she spent her life. A life where movement did not mean freedom, but pain. I sighed, as I knew it was a long journey ahead of us, but grateful she had chosen to share her journey with me.

“What do you want from Pilates?” I asked her, as I ask all my clients. (If they tell me they want to look like Cindy Crawford and are 5’1’’ I giggle and say so do I!!!) It is important to know what their expectation of the work is.

“ I want to ride my horse well,” she answered.

Off to the Cadillac we went.

Many years before this meeting, she had been crushed by a van against a concrete wall. To add insult to injury, she was just a few month post partum after her second child. Her pelvis had been smashed, legs shattered, ribs broken and collarbone and wrist fractured. She spent a year in a body cast. Now years and many doctors, surgeries, therapists, therapies, she arrived at my studio.

Our work Began.

Without changing the work, or making it become physically therapy (as I am NOT one), we began to first build her powerhouse by breaking down the work to its most basic and foundational movements.

Using Joe Pilates order, and breaking down each exercise we built her strength, stretch and control. She has had two knee replacements and a hip replacement over the course of time.  Due to her powerful “girdle of strength” and her strong constitution, she has rapidly recuperated from each challenge.

Romana used to say that the five parts of the mind were an important part of this work. A person needed to have intelligence, intuition, imagination, will and memory to truly experience all the benefits of the method. She had them all.

A few years ago, she spoke of loving to dance and jump as a child. I asked her why being an adult should stop her. Over the next few months we worked on the 2X4 and the foot corrector. Eventually we moved the work to the High Chair, where I supported the pedal at the correct height for her hip, and she began to pump. We placed two boxes behind her and began to work her squats with the roll back bar. I placed the leg springs on her thighs, so she could build the muscles of her legs without endangering her knees.

A few months later, at the end of her lesson we did jumping jacks. I have never seen a more exuberant smile in my life!

Today she rides, easily walks up stairs and does the occasional jumping jack.

Thank you to Kathryn Ross-Nash, Pilates studio owner and Pilates Instructor at American Body Tech in Allendale, New Jersey.

One comment

  1. Beautiful story Kathi, about two astonishing women who have changed many women’s minds, attitudes, and appearances. I admire you both.

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