North Boulder Pilates, 3000 Center Green Drive, #140, Boulder, 303-413-3496, northboulderpilates.com
Instructor: Lily Miller has been a physical therapy assistant for 10 years and a certified Pilates instructor for four years. While working with spinal rehabilitation and physical therapy patients, she said she realized that Pilates had a strong relation to spinal rehabilitation. Most of the Pilates instructors at the studio are either physical therapists or physical therapist assistants.
"I want to be active as long as I possibly can and a lot of people have that same hope," said Miller. "Pilates lets you work towards that. It allows you to get strong, whole-body strength, posture and core so that hopefully you can keep doing all the things you want to do and stay healthy."
What is the workout? Pilates geared toward people with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Miller said the class is about "strengthening core stability, making sure that we are not doing repetitive flexion-based exercises."
The moves look like typical mat Pilates exercises, with small tweaks to the form or movement. Ideally, students maintain all the benefits of Pilates without exacerbating problems that arise from reduced bone mass. Some exercises are avoided, while others are modified.
Miller threw in moves that I hadn't seen before, including balance and stretching exercises.
"We want more functional movement and not so much repetition," said Miller, which could cause shearing of the spine.
What's different? "A typical Pilates mat class does have a lot of thoracic spinal flexion," said Miller. "For somebody who has osteoporosis, we want to avoid that motion of the spine. We want to be able to strengthen the spine and stabilize it."
The class moves a bit slower than a typical Pilates class and doesn't use repetition as often. We avoided raising our heads while doing core exercises on our back. Miller provided pillows or towels to support the head or back in certain positions. Stabilizing the spine while strengthening the core muscles is the name of the game. This was one of the few classes I've taken where it didn't feel rushed. Everything was calm and controlled.
But don't be fooled, it was still a challenging workout.
Miller's expertise in physical therapy was noticeable during class. She anticipated every question that popped into my head and cued us to keep breathing every time I held my breath. I'm convinced she's a mind reader.
Cost: Drop-in mat classes are $16, a 10-session punch card is $130.
Level: Beginner to intermediate. Small class sizes allow Miller to give individual attention to beginner students and more advanced variations to existing students. She knows her students well enough to provide them with the individual props they need for each move and accommodate any limitations they might have.
When: The hour-long class is at 3 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesdays, 8 a.m. Wednesdays, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursdays and 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Fridays.
What to prepare: Clothes you can move around in and a water bottle. No shoes are worn in class.
Muscles worked: The focus is on the core muscles. We did some leg and balance exercises as well.
What I loved: Miller was so friendly and intuitive. The class was laid-back and welcoming. I never felt overwhelmed or confused.
It's apparent her background in physical therapy makes the class more effective for those dealing with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. This is a great service to offer people who have limited access to workouts that are catered to their needs.
What I didn't like: I didn't realize that the Pilates studio was a part of North Boulder Physical Therapy, so I missed the sign and drove in the wrong direction.
How I felt after the class: I left with a greater appreciation not just for Pilates, but physical therapy as well.
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