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Pilates: a mind, body and soul health package

Montreal Gazette – Sept 7, 2014
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IMG_7760If you want to look younger, stand up straight. I recently learned a whole lot about the topic, and then some, from a meeting with Pointe-Claire resident Christine Clark. She and her daughter Katherine Murray are the owners and highly experienced teachers at Pilates Fusion in Pointe-Claire, the first ever such studio in the West Island.

“The big problem with people’s posture is incorrect breathing,” says Clark, “locked into the same pattern, creating dryness in the tissues and bones that are locked up, gravity pulling you in false directions. And with any kind of injury, rehabilitation will not fix it long-term unless you address the breath.”

Pilates Fusion is well positioned in the West Island, seriously acknowledged by the medical community. Primary clientel are 50 plus menopausal and post –menopausal women. A restorative experience results from weekly visits and on-going eight-week sessions. Clark says, “These women have aging parents to look after and still work, and some still have children living at home. As caregivers, Pilates Fusion clients find it helpful to commit to their Pilates sessions and enjoy the longer lasting post-workout benefits. The act of taking time for themselves becomes easier as the process of creating a healthy habit of body awareness begins to unfold.”

Pilates is a proven system of controlled stretching exercises addressing the proper placement of head, shoulder, rib cage and pelvis. Proper breath ensures that energy is not wasted in body areas that are not supposed to be working in particular movements. All of this affects emotional well- being. “We all have areas in our bodies where we’re hyper-mobile,” says Clark. “doing specific movements too well. The body does what we call ‘cheating’ or ‘stealing movement’ where parts are not mobile enough, and we need to access movement from somewhere else. The body is not always aware of itself. It needs discipline, and the mind always assumes that it knows best, so it’s really about getting the mind, body and breath to work together.”

In comparison to yoga, Pilates is a bit more flowing versus static in holding of posture, more mechanically supported. Clark started her impressive career by teaching yoga and recommends trying Pilates before yoga as it pinpoints specific posture issues which could lead you to difficulties later on.

In proper posture, the idea is to bring spinal curvatures – our shock absorbers- to more neutral positions through specific anti-gravity workouts. Benefits are enormous: It slows the aging process, and relieves asthma and supports multiple arthritic and spinal conditions. It also helps to deal with depression by calming the central nervous system, making stronger and rebalancing the breathing muscles which trigger messages of optimism to the brain.

Pilate Fusion often gets client referrals from Concordia Sports Medicine, osteopaths and physiotherapists throughout the Island. Football players two days out of knee surgery can work on their apparatus and strengthen knees without weight-bearing. Similarly, basketball players after surgery resume jumping. Fantastic for strengthening the lateral and medial muscles, Pilates are ideal for hockey players. And it is a highly coveted approach for golfers and dancers who seek more precise control of their movements, with greater bio-mechanical power. And for opposite, sedentary people, Pilates is a very easy integration to exercise. It’s all about balancing the core body and filtering the benefits down to the peripheral arms and legs.

Clark says, “Our studio offers an experienced, highly versatile and caring teaching approach combined with specialized machines and apparatus designed to offer greater support in exercising movements more safely in the initial stages, with unique spring tension for resistance training. This results in a quicker healing process of weight-bearing joints.”

Personal care is a rule by never having more than five people per class, same day and time for an eight week session. Having the same partners helps students’ progress, always learning new things, as with the teachers, in a clean and safe environment. Clark says, “Students invariably bond, a big reason why they re-enroll. Our students feel and look better within two weeks. Twenty-five percent of our students have been with us for the full 10 years of our inception.”

Pilates Fusion has two West Island studio locations: 60-C Donegani Avenue and 1 Holiday Avenue, Pointe-Claire.

For more information, go to: www.pilatesfusion.ca

(And stand up straight!)

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