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Strength, Stretch and Stabilize with Pilates

Sally Boley was busy going through her routine one recent Monday morning at Pilates Performance and Rehab, where she has worked out for the past two years. She exercises on her favorite apparatus known as The Reformer. An avid golfer, Boley not only plays on the course with three of her golfing buddies, but they also exercise at PPR and are known affectionally as the Pilates Fore Golfing ladies.

“I started Pilates because exercise is so important to our health and well-being,” Boley says.  “Pilates helps with all sports that involve flexibility, range of motion, and strength. I play golf, so it has been very helpful for flexibility in my swing. It has definitely helped my core strength, which is so important for daily living, especially as we age.” 

Pilates Performance and Rehab (PPR) owner Desima Dowdy is passionate about this form of exercise. Developed by German immigrant Joseph Hubertus Pilates in the early 20th Century, Pilates is designed to improve flexibility, strength, posture, alignment, breathing, balance, gait, coordination, and core control. It can be done without equipment, where it is referred to as mat Pilates, or it can incorporate unique apparatus such as The Reformer that can assist or challenge a person to stretch, strengthen, stabilize and align the body through controlled movements and breath.

Fate played a role in Dawdy’s introduction to Pilates. While on a pre-med education track in her college days, she discovered her passion leaned more towards preventive medicine and lifetime wellness. In the 1990s, she owned Absolute Fitness for Women, which was recognized by Club Industry Magazine as one of the top three entrepreneurs/innovators in the United States for work in the field of women's health and wellness. 

 “In my thirties and at the height of our growth, I experienced some major medical injuries caused by both auto and freak accidents that put me out of play in the then trending step aerobics, spinning, weight circuit, and group fitness world,” Dawdy says. “Prior to my injuries, I was pretty oblivious to the specialized and adaptive needs of those with soft tissue and neurological issues, or even the concept of someone under 50 unable to easily get down and up from the floor.”

Out of desperation, Dawdy searched for alternative therapies, which lead to her study of Palates and the eventual creation of PPR.  Twenty years later, the business is going strong.

 “Truth be told, I did not find Pilates, but by the grace of God and divine providence, it found me,” she says.

Dr. John Gay was also working out that Monday on the trapeze table. A client of PPR for more than 12 years, he credits Pilates with managing his chronic lower back pain, cervical spine dysfunction, and poor posture. He also believes the practice is healthy for the brain and stabilizes mood.

“Pilates is a full-body program that strengthens all muscles,” Gay says. “The moves are slow, precise and controlled working against gravity and the resistance of the springs. Personally, I have found this system to be superior over working with a traditional trainer and free weights.”

Like other fitness facilities, PPR had to shut down for a time in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. With input from Shawnee County Public Health Director, Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, they modified the floor plan to utilize three entrances, created four separate unique training spaces, and purchased more props to create social distance stations six feet apart.  At the same time, every trainer was transitioning as many personal training and rehab-based clients as possible to Zoom.

“I have been quite comfortable going to the studio during Covid-19,” says Dr. Gay. “This is because the studio is kept very clean, masks are worn appropriately and distance is maintained.”

Pilates Performance and Rehab does not require an annual membership. Payment is per class. To find out more details, go to pilatesperformanceandrehab.com to learn more.   

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