I remember when I was a very new and green teacher, Mary Bowen, in a workshop, stated, “Pain is a very narrow existence.” Intellectually, I understood that, yet I could not yet fathom the depth and truth of that statement in my own body at the time. I was still a teenager and a capable dancer with no prior injury.
It wasn’t long after this experience I’d go on to sustain a dance-related low back injury, compounded with compensations from scoliosis that sidelined what had been my education and career path to that point. To say my life had been turned upside down would have been an understatement. I had lost my identity and focus and was most definitely thrown off center.
Until now, Pilates has always been this thing I did in addition to dance. I took Pilates for granted; I didn’t yet understand how good it was. I knew I liked the system with all its strange and unique apparatus, the exercises, and how it made me feel centered in body and mind, which I couldn’t imagine not having at that time as a teenager. It helped give me structure and order when I needed it most (and still does to this day). Not to mention the Pilates studio was always a safe space for me as a queer teenager growing up in Texas and continues to be so to this day, whether it’s my own studio or the studios I visit.
It was this thing I had taken for granted that brought me back. It’s no accident that Mr. Pilates’ titled his treatise on his work, “Return to Life”. It’s literally what the system is designed to do: to bring the body back to a state of profound health.
My belief changed. I had experienced my own renewal. Pilates had my back in every sense of the term.
This firsthand experience changed the course of my vision for my life. It was the moment I knew how powerful the system was, and I wanted to both share and help others return to health through movement. Pilates went from a side hustle and just this thing I did to my life’s work and I’ve never turned back.
Since my initial injury, I’ve used the Pilates Method to manage my back health for over two decades and I’ve helped many clients have the skills, patience and faith in the system to help themselves and have their own Return to Life journeys.
My faith never wavered.
About six months into the pandemic, I sustained a lumbar herniation. Not only had the world contracted in a sense, I was having another contraction with my body and my abilities.
But here’s where there was a remarkable difference between my initial low back injury in college and this second new event. While there might have been considerable pain, there was no fear. I had faith in Pilates, trust in my teachers and my body’s ability to heal and yet again return to life.
My faith deepened even more.
I stand as a living testament to the promise of this body of work. Pilates will always be there for us, our clients and will always have our back.