Client A & B, Spouses
Gender & Age:
A: female, 77 year-old
B: male, 78 year-old
How did you get into Pilates?
A: Our granddaughter has scoliosis. We started bringing her to Pilates of Dunwoody. We both used to do yoga. I loved it, he hated it. However, we saw results from yoga and stuck with it for over 2 years until we moved to Atlanta.
When I started bringing our granddaughter to the studio, I was watching her workouts and became intrigued. I asked Holly, the owner, if she takes old people (laughs). I encouraged him to try lessons.
B: I used to go to the gym regularly and work out on cardio equipment. I did not enjoy the gym but knew it was necessary. I also play golf 2-3 times a week. I didn’t want to try Pilates because I thought it would be all women in the studio.
However, in the middle of spring of 2014, I pulled a hamstring while playing golf. I almost fell. I was warmed up so was concerned why that happened. I decided to give Pilates a shot and took a lesson. I loved it! Pilates looks easy but is in fact very challenging.
During my first lesson, the instructor asked me to do the rollup. I thought to myself, I can do a sit up, this won’t be a problem. So I powered through it. The instructor quickly corrected me and asked me to roll up slowly. I was mortified. I could not do it.
I started with lessons once a week. Now I do between 2 and 3 times a week and look forward to my sessions! I wish I could afford to do it daily.
What has Pilates done for you?
B: I have not been flexible my entire life! Even as a child, I could not touch my toes. I am flexible now! I can gently roll down and touch the ground. My back is looser. My golf swing is easier, I have a fuller swing. My gut is strong, and you know you can’t do anything without strong abs. I haven’t seen as much improvement in my stamina because we move slower pace.
I have also learned how to isolate muscles. I love that the longer you do Pilates, the harder it gets because you become more aware of how to isolate. And don’t make a mistake calling Pilates easy; your instructor will make sure that next time it is harder (laughs)!
As client B goes for his hour-long session, I continue talking to his wife, client A.
A: I have done Pilates about 5 years now with some big interruptions. In October 2015, I went to bed, I felt fine. I got up with high grade fever, fell down, had a concussion, and ended up in the hospital in a 9-day coma. I was having encephalitis. I don’t think they thought I would wake up from the coma. I was put on steroids. After I woke up, I had to go through rehabilitation. I was walking with a walker.
However, deep inside, I believed my body knew what to do. I was walking faster than expected with the walker. One of my tests was to climb up 3 steps. When the doctor asked me to do it, the feeling of self-doubt came upon me. However, I had my balance, and I think I have Pilates to thank for that; I had the muscle memory. I was out of commission for 6 months.
Another time, I woke up at night, I didn’t turn the lights on and fell down 7 feet of stairs. I was all bruised up but luckily had nothing broken, and doctors were relieved there wasn’t another concussion. My clavicle separated from the shoulder blade. I went to a specialist. I didn’t want to do physical therapy (PT). He asked me if I can lift my arm. I lifted it all the way up. He asked me if I can reach my back. I did so. He was impressed and said I don’t need any PT. I was back to Pilates!
Why do you think Pilates is good for seniors?
Pilates is great for old people because the next day you can get out of bed. You work hard but are not sore. I have friends who ask me: “Are you nuts?” What they don’t realize is that you don’t have to be a gymnast to do Pilates.
Old folks are also concerned about people watching them. I think that everyone in the studio is so focused on what he/ she is working on and his/ her own problems that the only person paying attention to you is your instructor, and you certainly can’t get away with anything (laughs).
I walk 3 times a week on an indoor track for 45 minutes. Sometimes I jog a little. I do easy stretching for 20 minutes. I do Pilates 2-3 times a week. I love it!
Another concern people have for Pilates is cost. Yes, it is not cheap but the way I look at it is it saves me on doctor bills. It’s great prevention. If your body doesn’t know how to balance at my age, a fall can be very dangerous.
To save on costs, we have considered doing duets but our bodies are just so different. He has a strong upper body. I am more flexible. You need to be compatible to do duets. (I concur, working out with my hubby when we first tried Pilates put strain on our marriage J).
What has Pilates done for you?
My posture has improved even though I continuously work on that. I keep a long neck, I am more aware of what good posture should look like. I love Pilates, I did love yoga. They both help me with flexibility, strength, posture which all start disappearing with age.
Pilates is not just about posture. It’s also about being cognizant about your posture and carrying those muscle mind messages which are so beneficial but take time to get in memory.
I love the quality of instruction at Pilates of Dunwoody! You all are well-trained instructors. In some places there is poor instruction and lack of knowledge. I enjoy getting a good correction. It’s easy to do exercises wrong.
I love the short spine massage exercise but sometimes I cheat with my legs. It is hard to engage the powerhouse and do it right. That’s where the teacher corrects you. It’s best to have someone watch you so you don’t get hurt.
We live on a golf course and I can see seniors humped forward. A friend of ours, who is a year younger than me, fell on a golf course. It took him 3 more falls trying to get up with support from one person and finally 2 people to get him up to his feet. I don’t want to be in this situation. Young kids don’t think anything about getting down to and up from the floor. That’s a lot for someone my age. I read in AAPR magazine that one needs to be able to get off the floor without hands or furniture props. We are both working on that. We also now know how to effectively get up if lying down.
You are in pretty amazing shape; any advice for other seniors?
I wish more old people would do Pilates. They are intimidated because of their age but you better go or you will get older quicker. There is a good saying I like to quote: “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are” (Satchel Paige).
Client B is now finished with his workout. He comes out grinning.
B: I should have mentioned, there are no milestones in Pilates, there are only inch stones! I have been working on my rollup for 2 years, and I just managed to do it without someone holding my feet down!