Karen's Story

I became a Pilates Instructor just over 15 years ago and in many ways, Pilates saved my life, twice! 

When I was 22 and a student, I had major surgery on my spine for two prolapsed discs. For the 18 months before this surgery I’d been in agony and, once I’d recovered from the op it seemed to have been a miracle cure. I was pain-free and went straight back to sailing, skiing, cycling, all the things I loved. What I now know is that the surgery had done nothing to address the initial cause of my back problems - really bad muscle imbalance, rubbish postural muscles and glutes that did not fire… I officially had a lazy arse!

So, about 5 years later my back problems came back tenfold. I lost power and feeling in my left foot, had no reflex in my right ankle. It felt as if a spear had been thrust through my left calf. I couldn’t work, in fact I couldn’t do anything. I was advised to have a second operation but this time there was a risk of permanent damage and even paralysis. I was terrified. I decided to try everything before submitting to surgery. I tried massage, physio, chiropractic, osteo. I gave up cheese, had reiki… anything! Then I read an article about Pilates. My journey began.

After a couple of false starts, I found an excellent Pilates class and my road to recovery began. At the time there were few Pilates classes in Wales and I really wanted to learn more, so I enrolled on a course in London to train as a Pilates instructor.

As my body changed, my pain grew less and one day my spinal consultant said he no longer needed to see me. I was taken off the waiting list for surgery. 

So that was how Pilates saved my life, the first time…

The second time? Even though I was getting stronger and stronger my day job was killing me. I worked in government policy and spent all day either at my desk writing strategies or in meetings. I realised I would never be 100% well unless I changed my job. After a week off work doing nothing but exploring movement on this amazing course, I was pain free and feeling alive. After one day back at my desk, I was back to being stiff and in pain. So I quit!

With my partner, we opened Barefoot Studio, the first Pilates studio and wellness centre in Wales. I taught Pilates and Nordic walking full time. We had a shop that sold many of the things that had helped me like Swopper seating, healthy back bags, MBT footwear, plus we had a great team of therapists.

Pilates gave me a pain free life and one of the best jobs in the world. I work with people who’ve been dealt a similar hand to me and I teach them how to use Pilates to get their life back, too. 

Thank you, Joseph Pilates!