By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Living life to the fullest is easier when you are fit, healthy and vigorous.
But while study after study confirms the relationship between exercise and health, for some, getting fit is a long and difficult journey.
Finding a starting place can be a major challenge for those who have suffered injuries or who have never exercised. For the fit populace such as athletes, staying healthy for competition may be a struggle.
Two Norman women believe Joseph Pilates found a solution to many of those problems when he developed his fitness system during the first half of the 20th century.
Kim Jackson and Linda Roberts, co-owners of Pilates Fitness Center in Norman, are dedicated to providing a “safe and effective exercise program” for clients. Located at 210 36th Ave. SW, Suite A in the Park on Main Executive Office Park, just south of Fed Ex, the fitness center is based on the classical principles from the work of Joseph Pilates.
Pilates starts with posture and stretching but moves on to develop core strength and enhance movement in ways that work and strengthen deep muscles.
“Most everybody needs to stretch,” Jackson said.
Pilates Fitness provides instruction in Pilates, barre exercise, hatha yoga, Titleist Performance Institute Pilates for Golf Fitness, pelvic floor fitness and post rehab for back issues and other injuries.
While the specialized classes can be fun, Pilates is the core of the center’s fitness classes.
The Pilates exercises are gentle but effective.
“Every joint, head to toe, they’re going to feel it,” Jackson said.
Roberts practiced physical therapy for 20 years, specializing in manual therapy and therapeutic exercise for special populations. She has treated sports injuries, chronic pain and neurological issues. She has also been a certified fitness instructor, doing personal training and group fitness classes for 31 years.
Roberts believes the value of Pilates for fitness is inestimable for clients.
“They learn how to arrange their posture for health,” Roberts said.
Over the course of her physical therapy practice, Roberts saw people just coming out of therapy head into the gym, only to suffer additional injuries.
Pilates can help build strength and flexibility through making the muscles long and lean. Good posture is essential to avoiding injury and chronic pain, whether the problems stem from sitting at a desk or practicing a favorite sport.
“Every client needs to address posture,” Roberts said.
For some people, Pilates provides a gentle place to start exercising for the first time, even at an advanced age. Pilates Fitness Center has clients ranging from age 14 to 85.
Jackson said enhancing fitness changes people’s lives for the better. After about six sessions, she said she often hears the same refrain from clients: “This is an exercise I can do for the rest of my life.”
Jackson and Roberts said Pilates is about engaging mind, body and spirit and bringing “mindful awareness to how we move.”
“The Pilates method was created to bring balance to the body,” Jackson said.
The emphasis is on core strength, not just in the abdominals, but through the entire trunk and hips.
“The technique, in terms of how to engage these deep, stabilizing muscles, is critical to doing this work properly,” Jackson said.
That’s why new clients are encouraged to start with a session or two of private instruction. The group classes are small with a lot of hands-on instruction and guidance from certified teachers.
Special populations get help with problem areas and rehab such as scoliosis, joint replacement, neurological issues and/or paralysis or spasticity, osteoporosis, spinal disorders or pregnancy.
In addition to special classes for golfers, there is a Pilates class for men.
“We like to think of sharing Pilates to encourage intelligent movement so that clients become more aware of their bodies to prevent injury and to be fully capable of living life with vigor and zest,” Jackson said.