Patricia Massey Welter shows off some her most accomplished clients from her Florida studio, Suncoast Pilates. But don’t expect perfection: These athletes have “real” bodies with real limitations.
We all know that the media usually portrays beautiful people in perfect form while exercising. Although there has been more diversity—older adults, people of all races, ethnicities and figures—in recent years, these “models” still look pretty darn perfect.
As an instructor and a teacher of teachers, people often ask me, where are the photos of people who don’t look perfect? Where are the “real” people? How do instructors learn if only perfect form is demonstrated? The goal of this blog series is to highlight the client who walks through the door—with back, neck, knee, shoulder and hip issues, poor posture, osteoporosis, scoliosis and spinal stenosis—and to show how Pilates can change lives.
Nancy came into Suncoast Pilates over a year and a half ago, with a labral tear repaired by surgery in her left hip and hypermobility in her shoulders. Nancy was working in the computer field, with over 28 years and an IT background in computer networking. She has had various job titles: Systems Engineer, Network Architect, Solutions Engineer and Consulting Engineer. The other side of Nancy is that she danced Jazz, Ballet, Tap, and Ballroom, starting at 8 years old through high school. She taught dance after college for 2 years. Nancy has always exercised, was a gym rat, bought and sold various pieces of home equipment, taught aerobics (during the high intensity craze), and Jazzercised for about a year. She started Pilates with Mari Winsor DVDs in the late 90’s and loved how energized she felt when done. She was addicted to the ab work. When tired of the DVDs, she purchased a home reformer and worked on it for a few years. Moving to Virginia, she found a Pilates studio and took Pilates mat classes for some time. When layoffs started hitting at the company she worked in 2008, she decided to seek out teaching Pilates as an alternative career. The studio where she taking mat classes informed her that they were starting a new “semester” for their Pilates comprehensive certification. Her hip injury happened one afternoon while at home practicing on her reformer while working on her comprehensive training. She believes the injury occurred because of the hyper mobility she has had most of her life. A dancer in her generation was expected to take every move to the end range every time. She studied dance in a neighborhood family studio in New York, with concepts passed down from generation to generation. Some of those concepts are not practiced anymore. Nancy felt that she did not execute a particular exercise the day of the injury with enough precision and she was practicing without supervision. The aftermath was the beginning of her journey into understanding hip anatomy in much greater detail. Nancy sustained an additional injury breaking the sesamoid bone in her right foot, further complicating her hip injury. After completing her comprehensive test out in 2011, she taught part-time in Virginia while working as a Network Engineer, and finally had surgery on her hip. Her rehabilitation protocol at the rehab facility included Pilates starting thirty days post surgery.
Moving to Florida and Nancy continued to work as a Network Engineer. She missed doing Pilates and teaching in a studio environment. Nancy wanted to surround herself with others that love Pilates and learn from other teachers. Though she had a Reformer at home, she desired to have another Pilates instructor work her out with a second eye for form. Nancy came into Suncoast Pilates over a year and a half ago, to work with me to strengthen her hip, work on the hypermobility in the shoulders, and to supervise her workout. Nancy had also been taking TRX classes, to help improve her bone density. She was tentative at first; we worked with a focus on stability throughout her workouts. The goals were to increase strength, endurance, while adding to her Pilates repertoire. Nancy so impressed me with her perseverance and dedication to Pilates, that I hired her to work at Suncoast Pilates a year ago. Since coming to Suncoast first as a private client, Nancy still takes weekly group classes with me. She has significantly more stamina and endurance, is markedly stronger and has improved her ability to control her hypermobility, allowing her to successfully perform all the exercises in the Pilates system.
I chose to put Bat Woman Nancy and upcoming Bat Man (six in this series) together for some of the pictures, as they both have computer backgrounds, though their needs were entirely different. Bat Man needs mobility focus with emphasis more stretching in his workouts; Nancy needs a stability focus. Both have taken Pilates group equipment classes together at Suncoast. When asked what Super Hero they each felt when doing Pilates, Nancy showed up as Bat Woman the day we asked them to take pictures, and our gentleman Batman showed up. They could not resist being photographed together! And we loved it! Since Nancy and Bat Man sometimes take classes at the same time, their skill set matched equally. Cross training them both, they have worked on the CoreAlign, Bodhi and Gyrotonic Tower. Pilates is what Nancy says makes the difference in her life.
Always a Pilates anatomy nerd, Nancy has expanded her Pilates by becoming a Balanced Body Anatomy in 3D Master Trainer this past August, is my right hand at the studio, and is a Gyrotonic Apprentice. She is truly a Super Hero to us!
Patricia Massey Welter co-owns Suncoast Pilates in Palm Harbor, FL, with her husband Robert. She is the director of Pilates instruction at Suncoast, a Balanced Body master instructor for Pilates and CoreAlign, a Pilates Method Alliance Certified Pilates Teacher and a Lolita San Miguel Pilates master. Suncoast Pilates is a Balanced Body Pilates Instructor Training Facility, and as a Balanced Body Host site, Patricia teaches Pilates and CoreAlign instructor-training modules and workshops.
Patricia is one of the area’s most experienced Pilates instructors, and has owned a studio for more than 20 years. In addition to her Pilates background, which has spanned 26 years, she holds certifications in personal training, fitness, post-rehab fitness and aquatics. Patricia works with clients ranging from individuals new to Pilates to teenagers to post-rehab to professional athletes. She has worked with MLB baseball players, PGA pro golfers, triathletes, pro skaters, runners and tennis players. For more information, visit suncoastpilates.com.