In 1988 I arrived back from Monte Carlo with a torn medial meniscus in my right knee. I had just finished a two month solo audition trail in London and Europe, looking for work as a classical ballet dancer at 19 years of age. I visited the Prahran Sports Medicine Centre for an appointment with Craig Phillips (Physiotherapist) to assess my (then undiagnosed) knee.
Craig had just arrived back from the US, where he had attended a three week intensive Pilates certification with Carola Trier. We got to talking about my next step post-surgery. Craig suggested I might like to think about learning the Pilates method. After watching a video for about 15 minutes, I was convinced. Within six weeks I had rehabilitated my knee and learnt every exercise via video and a few notes, and I found myself teaching in the first Pilates studio in Melbourne under Craig’s guidance. My training was an apprenticeship in every way, working with intuition in a controlled and supervised environment being the ideal way to discover the Pilates method and its benefits. I worked with Craig from 1988 until 1991, all the time practicing the method on my own body, and I returned to full ballet training and landed a job in my first musical – Phantom of the Opera. Studying the Pilates method had strengthened my ballet technique and given me such an insight into my own physical strengths and weaknesses along with a supporting career as a Pilates instructor.
During my contract with Phantom of the Opera, the dancers in the company were very fortunate to have two Pilates sessions per week paid for by the company as part of our cross training and injury management plan. Performing eight shows a week dancing the same choreography, led to many injuries, often caused by fatigue and overuse. We attended sessions with Andrew Baxter in Melbourne and, when the show moved to Sydney, we attended sessions with the late Megan Williams and also with Sally Anderson. I enjoyed sessions with all three as it layered my understanding of the Pilates method. During the season of Phantom of the Opera, which was two and a half years for me, I suffered an acute Achilles tendon issue and an ankle impingement injury from pointe work. Attending Pilates sessions kept me in great physical condition and also assisted with rehab, all in all making my return back to eight shows a week seamless. From 1991 until 2000 I performed in back to back musicals, attending sessions weekly and teaching Pilates in between jobs. I attended classes with Rael Isacowitz, who at the time was teaching at McDonald College, and I discovered matwork with Rael during this time which set the foundations for how I teach mat to this day.
The knowledge gained through attending sessions with all of these teachers over that period of time pre-dates any formal qualifications being available here. My early training therefore formulated how I thought about using the method as we had no formal teacher training here in Australia at the time – but instead incredibly insightful teachers!! All of these teachers were working intuitively and intelligently, exploring and creating – remarkable!! In 2000 I fell pregnant for the first time, having just finished Show Boat after 18 months. What a shock! I went from peak physical condition performing eight shows a week to a quickly expanding waistline that I had very little control over. During the pregnancy I attended two sessions a week with Andrew Baxter, which enabled me to keep teaching full time, finishing up ten days before my daughter was born, feeling heavy but strong.
My first labour was an emergency caesarean. Isabella was 10 days late and 9.5 pounds and I had pelvic incompatibility. In other words she was too big for my pelvis to come out naturally. After much angst from me about not wanting a caesarean and especially not an epidural, my husband and obstetrician thankfully took control and Isabella came out strong and healthy.
Recovering from having two babies by caesarean and also with diastasis was very challenging. The Pilates method was without a doubt essential to my recovery. My knowledge, having participated for 12 years, helped inspire and motivate my return to full health and fitness, and to teaching again.
During my first post natal recovery I decided to embark on my first formal qualification and signed up to do the BASI training which at the time was being led here in Australia by Sally Anderson. I loved it – mainly due to Sally’s teaching. Those original instincts forged an amazing beginning to what has now become a strong business and personal relationship for Pilates International (founded and owned by Sally Anderson) and National Pilates Training (founded and owned by Katrina Edwards).
Being a mother to two children, a wife, teacher to staff and clients, studio manager and owner, lecturer for NPT and PITC accredited courses, assessor for NPT and PITC accredited courses, and mentor for eight staff requires managing stress and maintaining a positive outlook. I have found the Pilates method enormously beneficial in addressing this workload and also managing the stress on my body and the emotional stress keeping up with the expectations. After my sessions, I consistently notice an increase in motivation, lessening of stress and a sense of ease. The physical confidence, mental conditioning and resilience gained from practising the Pilates method assist me in coping with all my roles and the different hats I wear on a weekly basis.
I find I have a much more rounded perspective from twice weekly Pilates sessions. One session a week I devise for myself and the second session I attend with Andrew Baxter. Every four to six weeks I pick up a private session with Sally Anderson when she is in town which keeps my understanding growing for delivery of our partnered accredited teacher training courses.
I combine Pilates sessions in my week with three or four aerobic sessions. I run three times a week, go on one long walk for an hour, and I ride into work and back again once a week, which is a 12 kilometre round trip with some good hills.
At 50 years of age I feel fit, strong and healthy but know I need to keep up this amount of work in order to cope on a weekly basis with all I have to do as a mother, wife, and business owner.
I feel very fortunate to have practised the Pilates method for 25 years now as a teacher and a participant. I have relied on it for many aspects of my life and I look forward to the next 25 years and how it will assist as I age! Here’s to the Pilates method and its amazing benefits!!