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What’s it like to do Clinical Pilates?

May 26, 2014

Article written by Ashleigh Went for HerCanberra website on 12/2/15:

 

I have a confession to make. Everyone has their own weaknesses and areas that they’ve neglected, and for me, it’s my balance and core strength. You can imagine how I felt laying in Higher Function Clinical Pilates studio, balancing on a foam roller positioned below my spine, lifting and lowering my legs into the air. Challenging? Absolutely. But when it comes to fitness, overcoming challenge is what makes us improve and reach our goals.

Identifying individual weaknesses is one of the key ingredients that make Clinical Pilates different from other Pilates studios. Prior to beginning classes, students are treated to a forty-five minute one-on-one individual Physiotherapy assessment that can reveal directional preferences or anatomical issues requiring treatment. I personally fall into the former category. Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Janet Fabbri is quick to identify an imbalance in both the upper right and lower back sides of my back. She comes to this conclusion by observing while I perform a series of simple movements in various positions, asking which side is more difficult or whether I’m experiencing any tightness or pain in my body. Janet tells me that by that “by focusing your attention on the affected area and repeating the movement, patterns will be learned which can improve function and reduce pain”. This principle of body awareness is supported by recent neuroscience research.

That’s another aspect of Clinical Pilates that’s unique – it’s heavily based on research, and taught by experts in the field. Only qualified physiotherapists can teach Clinical Pilates, and upon meeting Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Higher Function Director Janet Fabbri, it’s very clear that you’re in safe hands. With over 26 years experience in treating musculoskeletal problems and 9 years experience in teaching Clinical Pilates, she’s well and truly equipped to assist you on your fitness or rehabilitation journey. What I really enjoyed about meeting Janet is that it’s extremely obvious that she’s passionate about her work, and she’s able to communicate her knowledge in a way that’s accessible and easy to understand. Also, because Janet is accredited by the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Clinical Pilates classes are claimable on most private health funds, so it’s a win for both your body and your wallet!

After my assessment, I’m invited to join a one hour level 2-3 class. The first thing I notice is how well equipped the studio is. Foam mats lie next discs, straps, foam rollers and to brightly coloured weighted balls. Janet helps me to set up, choosing weights to suit my level of strength and providing additional equipment to assist with my individual needs. Janet takes us through a series of exercises, many of which are executed while balancing on a disc or a foam roller. As per Janet’s instructions, I make a conscious effort to focus my attention on those areas in my body that she’s identified as weaker, and my goodness does it make a difference! Make no mistake; I still roll off to the side a handful of times. But by bringing that level of awareness to my body I’m able to stabilize myself and notice a significant improvement in my balance as well as my flexibility by the end of the class.

I really loved the sense of community that you find at Higher Function Clinical Pilates. 2 of the 5 or so other students commented that they had actually scheduled interstate business trips around the class that day. That’s some serious dedication! Janet tells me that quite a number of students have been coming to classes for years, and it really shows. Everyone is so comfortable, they’re not afraid to laugh and chat amongst themselves. Janet jokes that she “picks on people” in the class, but it’s not at all in a mocking or patronizing way. You get individual attention from the instructor as well as support from the group, which is an ideal combination. By keeping class numbers relatively small, Janet is able to tailor the class to the individuals needs and teach in a way that suits the personalities of the group.

In all honesty, there isn’t anyone that I wouldn’t recommend Clinical Pilates to. Janet’s qualifications, experience and knowledge make these classes a great option for those who are experiencing chronic pain or seeking rehabilitation. It’s also a fantastic environment for people who have been unable or unmotivated to take up an exercise regime for a long time, and are looking for a gentle way to ease into physical activity. Janet offers one on one sessions on specialty Pilates equipment where you can pick up the basics before joining in beginner group classes. And for the athletes among us, it’s a fantastic way to improve function and prevent injury. By activating the deep stabilizing muscles closer to the axis of rotation for the joint, you enhance and support the strengthening of the exterior strength muscles.