WHEN public servant Kim Ballantyne suffered a spinal stroke in 2008, it left her wheelchair bound and spending up to six hours a day in “intense” hospital rehabilitation.
“While it helped – I am now able to stand for short periods – there came a time where I wanted to move away from the hospital system and into the community,” says Kim.
“I was concerned about how to do that, and exactly how to continue on.”
When a friend referred her to pilates, she found her answer.
For almost six years Kim has been attending weekly pilates classes at Pilates Canberra in NewActon with instructor/director Lanette Gavran, and has noticed an “enormous improvement”.
“My body is now able to recruit muscles from lower down a lot easier, and I don’t have any problems with my shoulders, which a lot of wheelchair users have,” she says.
The one-on-one classes entail a range of systemised conditioning movements working with muscles in an extended state, including straightening and bending legs against spring resistance and extension work “to counteract being in a seated position most of the time”.
“Coming to pilates once a week gives me a basis on where I am, it’s a fabulous reference point… I always feel better after I come in, it has really kept me going,” says Kim.
Developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back.
Lanette, who has been in the pilates industry for more than 20 years, says people don’t often think of pilates as a method of rehabilitation.
Pilates has even been documented to slow or reverse the effects of debilitating diseases such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, with the mid-range motion of the exercises assisting people to overcome rigidity and become more limber.
“I think people are realising this is not just a passing fad for women, this is for everyone,” says Lanette.
More information at pilatescanberra.com.au/