Tom Kleinfelter and his beloved dog, Loosie Goosie, his previous Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

My Pure Pilates Story: Tom Kleinfelter on alleviating back pain and enjoying sports

From visiting a chiropractor and following a yoga practice, to going through physical therapy and getting acupuncture and therapeutic massage, Tom Kleinfelter has tried a number of activities to help manage an abnormality in his spinal alignment.

“I surmised that the best way to alleviate my back pain and increase my declining flexibility due to age was to develop better muscle strength to hold my spine in optimal alignment,” said Tom, 71, a semi-retired contractor living in Leelanau County with his wife of 45 years, Kim. 

Tom also hoped these efforts would help him continue to be able to play the sports he enjoys so much. These include hockey — he’s been skating since age 5 — golf in the summer and daily walks with Murphy’s Law, his Chesapeake Bay Retriever, at the lakeshore.

It was at his physical therapist’s office years ago when he first saw a Pilates reformer, though at the time he says he didn’t really understand the philosophy behind the practice. But last summer, after searching online and learning about Pure Pilates, Tom discovered just how beneficial Pilates could be for his overall health.

“I enrolled in the trial program,” Tom says of Pure Pilates’ “Getting Started” package that involves one-on-one instruction in the studio. “I’ve found that the practice really helped me improve my alignment and flexibility. My initial experience was positive as Holi, my instructor, has been very supportive and positive.”

Along with living with retrolithesis, the spinal alignment abnormality with which he was diagnosed about a decade ago, Tom has endured a few other health issues, including a hip resurfacing 16 years ago. He’s currently also being treated for prostate cancer, for which he is undergoing therapy.

“Unfortunately, I’m scheduled for cancer therapy for the next few months and will not be able to continue with Holi until my schedule settles down,” he says, “but I will keep up with Pilates at home until I can return.”

He’s looking forward to returning to the studio, where he’s found a practice that has positively affected both his physical and mental health. He’s especially pleased with the compassionate and expert instruction he’s received from Holi. 

“Together we don’t just do a workout, but strive to address my issues and achieve my goals,” he says. “Mentally I feel that this is a restorative path which gives me hope to leave back pain behind. I’m still learning to isolate muscle activation but can truthfully say Pilates is the first thing I do every morning and it has become my daily routine.”