On the evening of August 10, 2008, my life changed forever. On the long drive to a site for work, a car, speeding and with no headlights on, slammed into the passenger’s side of the car I was driving as I exited a round-about. Despite some pretty hefty rollbars, this resulted in a spinal injury. The MRI showed ruptures and disc shortening in T6/7 and T8/9.
My job as an exploration geologist required a large amount of travel, which would see me drive 800-1000km per week. I really loved that job but, due to the spinal injury, I couldn’t continue.
The doctors, specialists and physios predicted my recovery time would be three years. That’s three years of pain and discomfort, without any guarantee that I would return to living a normal life. Three years is a long time and I wasn’t willing to wait it out – I was going to do everything I possibly could to get myself better.
In January 2010, I changed physios and was introduced to Reformer Pilates to complement the rehabilitation I was already doing with a rehabilitation personal trainer. At the time, I didn’t think it would help and I thought I would get better results with regular physio treatment and seeing my personal trainer – but I was wrong.
Thanks to Reformer Pilates, I went from strength to strength. I improved significantly in the rest of the rehab training I was doing. What struck me one day was that I was no longer leaving scuff marks on the floor of my office from dragging my feet between the door and my desk – I had started to lift my feet and was walking normally again. By the end of 2010, I was feeling great and even travelling for work.
In May 2011, I moved for a new job and my rehabilitation took a back seat – and I suffered for it. I was undoing all of the progress. I’d stopped focussing on looking after myself and this resulted in back pain and a return to taking painkillers – something I had not done for over a year. I had a gym membership and the knowledge of what I needed to do, but lacked the discipline to do what was required to continue my rehabilitation.
In December 2012, I was made redundant, something that is not too unusual in my line of work with the changing nature of the industry. While this could be viewed as a negative, it was the event hat turned my life back around and started me on the path that led me to where I am today. I was overweight, unhappy and in chronic pain. With all of the free time I had while looking for a job, I took myself off to the gym three mornings a week. I started with a personal trainer again and lost 24kg over the next year, improving my strength and the muscular support through my back. But there was still something missing, something that had helped me more than lifting weights with all the bigger muscle groups. What was missing was the targeted small stabilising muscle training that only Pilates could offer.
I was introduced to Studio Pilates International in July 2013 by my partner, who suggested I give it a go with their introductory offer. I had heard of other group fitness Reformer Pilates classes from other people and was hesitant to try it. What I really wanted was something that was going to be similar to what I used to do at the physio. I gave it a go and was honestly surprised at the orientation workout – this was something different, something unique, something that made me want to go back.
After only a few classes, I noticed changes had already taken place. I was not as sore from the weight training I was doing, I was able to do more without fatiguing, and I was generally feeling a lot better. The instructors were able to modify exercises if I did not feel comfortable doing them or if I was feeling any pain. Studio Pilates instructors are equipped with the knowledge to work with people with injuries and modify exercises if a specific movement cannot be performed. There is a much higher level of care and attention able to be given due to the way the classes are delivered with the support of the digital technology.
I became a regular client and was attending 2-3 classes per week. Over the next 20 months, I went well beyond where I was at the end of 2010 and beyond where I ever thought I would be. I was living a normal life again – a life without any signs of being injured. I was more physically capable than people without injury.
I was happy with where Studio Pilates had taken me and where I was headed. That’s why, when, due to the nature of the industry I was working in, there was the possibility of being made redundant again, my partner and I looked into opening a Studio Pilates International studio as a franchisee. I believed in the product so much that, without hesitation, we agreed to open in Adelaide. While initially only looking at opening one studio in Norwood in July 2016, a second location soon became available in the city and was opened only a few months later in September. Before we knew it, a third studio at Henley Beach became available, which we opened in January 2018.
All I had wanted to do was share the benefits of Studio Pilates with Adelaide, and maybe share my personal story of how Studio Pilates helped me, but what I gained was so much bigger than that. That’s why I believe anyone with back pain or injuries can benefit from Studio Pilates.
The author of this article, Andrew, owns Studio Pilates Norwood, City and Henley Beach. His original rehabilitation regime included Reformer Pilates which, he says, changed his physical health, his career and his purpose as he now helps others change their lives too.