Daily exercise and meditation are a way of life for Pat Natale, and a big part of her routine is Pilates.
“I looked for a practice that was less impactful on my joints because it seemed as though I was always hurting somewhere,” says Pat, who is in her 70s, of starting Pilates a decade ago. “I also consciously wanted to become very strong in my core.”
It was a change from exercise she followed earlier in life — she had been active in aerobic classes since her 30s.
“I’ve done the crunches out the wazoo, but didn’t find core stability particularly as I know it know,” she says, adding she specifically was seeking “functional movement.”
Pat, who lives in Elk Rapids, has practiced Pilates here in northern Michigan for about four years; prior to this, she visited a studio downstate. Up north, she’s a regular at Pure Pilates as well as a studio near her home.
At Pure Pilates, Pat works with instructor Jackie Fiegel.
“I really enjoy the studio’s mind-to-muscle focus that is necessary to really put myself into the moment during class,” she says.
One of her more recent goals with Pilates has involved working on balance. She’s noticed a positive change with this in the last four to five years.
“It’s a reason why I continue to work on the practice,” she says.
Pat especially enjoys the intimate feel of the Pure Pilates studio.
“I enjoy the community of the small studio, I enjoy knowing people, I enjoy the purity that particularly is brought by the instructors in the studio,” she says. “They focus on form, which is so important. The engagement that they have in their students’ progress is really important.”
Pure Pilates’ dedication to ongoing instructor training is impressive, Pat says.
“Jen and Jackie are often taking additional training, and to me that is a marker of excellence for any studio or person, for that matter,” she says. “Jackie is excited by what she learns and incorporates it into classes. The commitment to learning to me is reassuring and encouraging at the same time.”
Pat plans to continue the practice for as long as she is able.
“It has folded over into daily life. My stability is better, my core strength is coming along…I’m quite happy with how it’s coming along–it can’t help but spill over into daily life,” she says.
“I’ve referred a number of friends there who have body issues. When I first started four years ago, my shoulders would ‘wing,’ one side of my body doesn’t engage as much as the other,” she says. “What seem to be tiny areas of focus are so important to a healthy and functional body … It’s a priority to me, and it’s not inexpensive. But I look at it as a health expense that I am more than willing to incur. It replenishes my life force.”
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