Above photo: Tara Hochstetler (left) with friends at the Bayshore Half Marathon finish. Tara credits her Pilates practice with helping her running performance.
Traverse City runner Tara Hochstetler knew for years that she probably should incorporate strength training into her exercise routine. “Weakness in my core was causing problems with my hips and knees,” she says, “but I was too intimidated – and busy! – to commit to learning something new.”
Tara eventually realized she couldn’t put it off any longer. She decided to try Pilates, which a friend had recommended to her. “Finally, I had the courage to go to the studio because a friend invited me to join her at a class. I totally regret waiting so long!”
We recently caught up with Tara to talk with her more about how taking classes at Pure Pilates has positively impacted her running – and her life.
How often are you taking classes?
I started out at Pure Pilates by taking private sessions twice per week with Sahra. She taught me proper techniques for exercising in a safe way and helped me work out some of my basic imbalance issues. Sahra made the sessions fun and personal! After a few months, I was stronger in my core and was able to maintain proper (enough) form to begin attending group sessions. Now I attend two classes per week – one with Jen and another with Michelle. Both instructors are amazing, fun and totally attentive to my specific needs.
How has Pilates helped you? What do you like best about it?
It’s harder to say how Pilates hasn’t helped me. From head to toe, I feel healthier and stronger than I ever have. I have less back pain than before and daily activities (like driving or getting around at work) are much easier. The thing I like best, though, is that I am able to run injury-free, which has really never happened before. I’m just not naturally athletic! For years, I ran for exercise because it was cheap and easy to work into my schedule. But because I had a weak core and poor form, with a lot of imbalance between my right and left sides, I never really enjoyed it and constantly battled hip, knee and ankle pain.
Can you talk more about how Pilates helped with your running, and with other activities, too?
Now that I’ve finally made time for Pilates, my attitude has totally flipped from “running to exercise” to “exercising to run.” I’m currently training for a marathon and devoting more time to Pilates and less time to logging “junk” miles than I have in the past. It was a great surprise to run the Grand Rapids Half Marathon a few weeks ago and beat my previous PR – by six minutes! Since I haven’t been running as much (as I normally do when preparing for an event), I was shocked to feel like I was running stronger and faster than ever before. Also, I had no joint pain afterward and only minor muscle soreness. I totally give the credit to the Pilates/core work I’ve been doing for the last year!
Anything else you’d like to say about your experience coming to Pure Pilates?
It’s never too late – or early – to start building core muscles and correcting alignments. I wish I’d started strength training at the same time I started running – it could have really helped prevent the many (minor, but annoying) injuries I’ve had to work through all these years. A lot of people stop running because of knee and/or hip pain, but through Pilates (and some serious time at Superior Physical Therapy), I have been able to strengthen my quads and hamstrings enough to support my weak knees.