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Carolyn Ferris, Echo Community Manager for New Tech Network—an organization that supports schools like Napa’s New Technology High School—has been practicing Pilates with Archer for nearly three years. She became interested in Pilates because of its reputation as an effective, gentle, and low-impact form of exercise and began working out using Pilates exercise videos. Wanting the motivation and discipline of a class, she tried Synergy’s Pilates classes, but felt that the gym was too far away and she wasn’t getting the personalized instruction she wanted. Then, she realized that Archer’s studio was only a little over a block away from her home.
“I’m one of those people who don’t like exercise, and I probably wouldn’t do it if I didn’t go to the studio,” she says. But according to Carolyn, Pilates is a perfect fit for her, especially as she’s getting older, because it helps her to maintain flexibility and muscle tone, developing all parts of the body. “Archer is aware of which parts of your body are having trouble and works with you. A year ago, I had foot surgery, and when I came back, she worked really hard with me to direct the exercises so I could strengthen my foot and toes.”
One of the greatest benefits of her Pilates practice has been an increased awareness of her body. “I have a tendency to slouch and have rounded shoulders,” she says. “Now I have greater physical awareness whether I’m walking or sitting.”
In addition to attending Archer’s Pilates sessions twice weekly, Carolyn walks to work, one and a half miles each way, four days per week. Practicing Pilates has strengthened her core so she can carry her backpack without slouching.
When asked what she would say to someone considering Pilates for the first time, Carolyn replies:
Because it’s low impact, anyone can do it. Archer’s careful to build up your strength so you can accomplish the advanced techniques. When I do a mat class, it’s a whole-body workout. Without using any equipment, you stretch and tone every muscle in your body.
She likes the social aspects of the classes, too.
Please leave a comment: What do you like best about your favorite exercise?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain, auto-immune disorder that affects somewhere between six and twelve million people in the U.S.*—primarily women between the ages of 25 and 50. Often mistaken for other illnesses, fibromyalgia is characterized by muscle aches, pain and stiffness, general fatigue and problems sleeping. Symptoms may also include headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, painful periods, numbness or tingling in the legs or arms and hands, restless leg syndrome, and memory problems. With so many different symptoms, it can be difficult to obtain a diagnosis because no one knows what causes it, and there are no objective diagnostic tests.
In addition, it can be difficult to find an exercise program that will help a person with fibromyalgia to function with less pain or improve her overall health. Pilates, because it is gentle, highly individualized, and flexible to the needs of each person, is an ideal form of exercise. Pilates’ low impact approach to improving core strength and circulation can increase muscle relaxation, providing relief from muscle pain, as well as improving overall sense of well being.
In addition, Pilates emphasizes the mind-body connection, a particularly important component for those suffering from fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases, because of their strong tendency to disconnect from their bodies.
In a small pilot study conducted in 2009 by Lale Altan, MD, the researchers found that those who participated in a regular Pilates exercise program improved significantly in terms of pain reduction and reduced symptoms. The researchers concluded: “We suggest Pilates as an effective and safe method for people with FMS.”
Do you or does someone you know suffer from fibromyalgia or other chronic disease? Pilates exercise may help. Leave a comment or contact the studio for more information about designing an exercise program to meet your unique needs.