George Kleiber admits he was skeptical about trying Pilates, but three years in, he’s happy he kept at it.
“At first, I wasn’t sure Pilates was for me. ‘Moving one vertebrae at a time’ seemed a bit foreign and slow. In fact, I actually quit a couple times along the way,” remembers George, who was a professor and interventional cardiologist for nearly 40 years before he retired and moved north to Traverse City with his wife Diane. “I had been doing yoga downstate with a great instructor and had a super personal trainer, so Pilates seemed so different. But I somehow felt there was something more here with Pilates that I needed to find out, and now I’m so glad I gave it a try as the results are amazing.”
We caught up with George recently to hear more about how Pilates has positively impacted his life. His thoughts and advice for incorporating Pilates into an active, full life:
Just keep at it. If at first in Pilates – or even in any sport – something doesn’t quite click, don’t give up, keep trying. You may be very surprised at the results. One needs to put time and energy into whatever one does in life, and results don’t always come easy.
Fantastic instructors. At Pure Pilates, all the instruction is excellent. But each instructor has special, unique talents and some are better suited to each of our own unique needs and personalities.
An active lifestyle. I’ve always been active, running five marathons, climbing Mt. Rainier and other mountains, biking over 40,000 miles (before I had to retire my old De Rosa for a newer granite road bike), tennis, a little squash and lots of winter sports like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and even dog-sledding. My wife is younger than me and also very active, so that helps a lot in my motivation.
Pilates’ health benefits are significant. I now notice, having done Pilates for several years, its impact on other forms of exercise. For example, in my mountain biking, balance, flexibility, and even body awareness all are improved. I always liked to go fast mountain biking downhill around trees – makes me feel like a kid again – and now I joke, I hit a lot less trees. My work as a cardiologist involved a lot of cardiac interventions on very acute patients, for which you wear lead aprons, as well as a lot of reading tests on computers bending over for close to 40 years. I think this affected my posture and I didn’t realize how much at times. Although I found time to always exercise, as it’s a great stress reliever, it never improved my flexibility and posture like Pilates has. There are a lot of other health benefits Pilates can provide, even as excellent adjunctive therapy to physical therapy. As a physician, I wish I had found it sooner to recommend.
George and his wife Diane, who have six grown children, enjoy spending time at their Lake Michigan cabin – “We have had a cabin on Lake Michigan, which my father and my son and I built by hand 30 years ago,” he says. “We looked around for a places to retire – we looked out west and other locations as well, but did not want to give up the cabin which we love right on a sand dune overlooking Lake Michigan. We chose Traverse City as a retirement location and bought a Traverse City home where we bike and walk everywhere. The combination of the city home and the cabin near Arcadia for mountain biking and hiking with our two dogs has been the perfect choice.”
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