Our First Generation Teachers, those who studied directly with Joe and Clara Pilates, will often exclaim that Pilates was not developed for rehabilitation. It was an exercise program designed to promote health and vitality for performing our daily activities and for enjoying our recreation. Good Pilates is rehabilitative due to the balance and control that are inherent in the practice. The practice of Pilates maintains health and promotes flexibility, strength, mobility, and endurance though proper execution of the movement and dedication over time. For many people, this outcome results in healing injury and restoring hope and joy.
I met Rachel Nace in 2000 at the first Pilates Method Alliance convention in Miami, Florida. Rachel’s questions were intelligent and she shared her history of dance training and her subsequent injury that had diminished her quality of life and her ability to participate in dance. She was very sad and discouraged.
Her story was very sad.
Rachel, who owns Inspiration to Movement, Inc in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, has a new story to tell. “After my car accidents I could not move, sit, or lie down without pain. Massage Therapy helped. When I found you, Pat, I was able to begin the repatterning of the pain cycles and the muscle functions to learn to move, sit, stand and live without complete agony.” I must add to this statement that Rachel was an excellent technician of movement and Pilates. However, the only person that cannot benefit from a teacher’s own personal knowledge and eye for correction is the body they inhabit. The teaching perspective to look from the outside is not possible. I helped Rachel with the process of looking, giving suggestions, and encouragement. Rachel did the work!
The Happy Ending!
Rachel has returned to dancing. “I am so happy finally dancing again and it is the spirit and freedom that I found from the strength that I gained in Pilates that has allowed me to LIVE again in body and spirit.”
“My partner and teacher’s name is Gene LaPierre and we won Top Solo in ballroom dancing last week in New Jersey. I have also won 29 individual golds in American Smooth (waltz, tango, fox trot, v. waltz), International Standard (waltz, tango, fox trot, v. waltz, quick step) and American Rhythm (cha cha, swing, rumba, bolero, mambo). I am proud to claim first place in the 3 dance championship and Top Student in the Gold Level (highest amateur level). My future plans include dancing for fundraising events, Competitions in Atlantic City in September and Ohio Star Ball in November. I have a personal goal, to go professional in a year and get back to a more steady ballet class routine. I am having so much fun”.
As Rachel’s teacher, I could see the training and the dedication that persisted despite discomfort. She would push through Pilates exercises with a painful countenance. When I would beg her to rest, she would relentlessly press ahead. In May, I saw her pictures and a video of her dancing. While she is an impeccable performer, it is the joy, beauty, and flawless grace that transfix my eye and elevate my spirit.
This is the truth of Pilates, the return to our lives so that we can each express our individual gifts.