• Posted by Debbie Ross 06 Aug

Donna’s Pilates Story: An Incredible Journey through Arthritis and a Double Knee Replacement

I started coming to Ross Pilates about 1 year ago on the recommendation of my friend, who just happens to be a personal trainer at a local gym.  She was excited for me to try out Deb’s special offer on individual sessions as she felt it was something that I could manage with my physical limitations. I was told about 6 years ago that I had chronic osteoarthritis in both knees and that when I was ready, I would need to have total knee replacements.  I had been a very active person who loved to power walk, hike, bike, kick box, practice yoga as well as do the occasional boot camp “just because”.

However, because of the increasing pain in my knees, I started giving up these activities one by one, until I reached a point where I could barely manage a 10 minute walk. My posture was very poor and I walked hunched over.  My breathing had become very shallow and my chest had become very closed- all a result of living with the pain of my knees. My body found ways to compensate for my knees but there was no longer any joy in exercising, and with my increasing weight gain, I often felt far older than my 60 years. That was my physical state when I arrived at Ross Pilates and my mental state had been affected also, since I no longer had exercise to help reduce day to day stress.  I definitely was feeling old.

Once I had my assessment with Deb, she told me that Pilates could definitely help me get ready for my surgery. In order for me to get the most benefit from what Pilates had to offer, I made a commitment to attend a minimum of 2 private sessions a week, and took a package of 10 sessions. I was a little skeptical that I would be able to do Pilates but felt I had nothing to lose at that point.  I began my sessions with Tracy and Maureen, and both were extremely accommodating with my work schedule.  It did not take long for me to get hooked!  I was ecstatic!  It was the first time in a very long time that I found a way to exercise without pain, and I felt so pumped by seeing my progress.  Because of the commitment of 2 to 3 Pilates sessions a week, it did not take long before other people started noticing the physical differences in my body.  I was walking taller and straighter, and my belly was getting smaller. My thighs were slimmer and I was happier than I had been in a very long time.

I was seeing my body get stronger and stronger and rather than focusing on what I couldn’t do, my Pilates instructors were showing me all the things I could do!  What a shift of perspective for me!  Needless to say, I decided to stay on with my private sessions, and also shared some semi private sessions with a friend in order to help with some cost savings.

I made a decision to have my double knee replacement in January of this year, about 6 months after my first Pilates session.  When I attended the hospital pre-op information session, I was the only person in the room that was having both knees replaced at the same time.  However, the physio therapist watched as I was leaving the room and told me that I would have a good recovery, because I was quite mobile.  When I told her that I had been attending Pilates, she told me that it was the best thing in the world that I could have done to prepare for the surgery.  Those words were like music to me!   After surgery, I was told that my range of motion  was exceptional, and another therapist in the hospital predicted that I would be able to walk in 4 weeks without a  cane because of this and she was right! Once again, it was confirmed that as a result of taking Pilates, I had the flexibility and core strength needed to have a speedy recovery.

When I started my 10 physio therapy sessions upon discharge from the hospital, I was told again that the speed of my recovery and my range of motion were exceptional- three different physio therapists were all giving me the same message….thank goodness I found Pilates prior to my surgery!  Recovery from a knee replacement is approximately 1 year, and at my 3 month followup with my surgeon, I asked if I could return to therapeutic Pilates sessions.  Before the physio therapist would agree to my return though, she asked where I went. When I told her that I would be seeing Deb at Ross Pilates, she said yes “only because she really knows her stuff about knees and hips”.  Even though she had never met Deb personally, she saw many of the clients after Deb worked with them and had much respect for her knowledge.

I am also seeing an Osteopath to assist with all the changes that my body is now experiencing because of my new knees and she also has huge respect for Deb and the staff at Ross Pilates. Even though she hasn’t met Deb personally either, they have worked with mutual clients and has told me that she could not have prescribed a better after care for me.  Wow…am I in good hands!  I’m back to Pilates twice a week, and while most of my sessions are private, I have some semi private sessions with another client who also has knee issues. My sessions are with Deb, and on occasion I  also see Danielle or Dorothy, and feel totally confident in each of their abilities. The staff have a huge commitment to ongoing education and their passion and pride in their knowledge shines through. My workouts are never boring, and it’s never just about my knee recovery.

I’m continually gaining knowledge about my quirky body and I’ve learned to laugh out loud at my limitations because I know Pilates will make them stronger.  I love that my sessions are always challenging different parts of my body. I am confident that my quality of life will continue to get better and better. I love that the staff cheer me on each time I reach a new milestone and they truly are my biggest cheer leaders. Yesterday, I was able to sit down on the floor and get back up again without any type of assistance- I think that’s so cool for getting two brand new knees less than 6 months ago.  I’ve also gone down one complete size in clothing since starting back at Pilates…another unexpected bonus.

My goals are simple.  I want to age well and stay strong and I know I found the right people to help me do that.  Thank you Ross Pilates!  I am forever grateful that I found you.

Donna K