My Pure Pilates Story: Tom Spencer, staying active & healthy with osteoarthritis


Tom Spencer cherishes time spent with his granddaughter.

Tom Spencer’s motivation for maintaining good health can be traced to someone very important to him: his 1-year-old granddaughter—and, well, any future offspring his three children may eventually have.

“I want to be able to get on the floor with my grandchildren,” says Tom, of Traverse City, who will celebrate his 55th birthday this January.

Tom, who was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in recent years, says working with Pure Pilates instructor, Kim Marian, has positively impacted his ability to enjoy life as a grandpa.

It’s also allowed him to stay strong as a soccer referee and coach in Suttons Bay and keep doing the sports he loves.

“It wasn’t a lot of pain,” Tom says of the osteoarthritis in his knees and hips, “but it was a reduced mobility, a sensation of heavy legs. But I was determined to be active and I still am active. I want to keep on running, and running on the soccer field, and continue cross-country skiing and biking and do any workout I can do.”

“So far, I can still keep active without any surgery,” he says.

It was surgery, in fact, that was recommended. But Tom opted to research other options first.

“I had never tried Pilates before,” he says. “I researched a little bit, and I was told it was linked to being able to help. I thought, ‘What the heck? It can’t hurt.’ And I am so glad I did.”

Tom says he’s thankful for his physician, Dr. Jennifer Lyon, who has been supportive of his commitment to Pilates and acupuncture. Tom also has made “major diet changes” to improve his health.

He takes private Pilates sessions with Kim.

“She has an amazing ability to target what is causing me problems,” he says. “When I walk out of there I feel better, every day. Kim is wonderful.”
Enjoying a quiet moment with his granddaughter.

Enjoying a quiet moment with his granddaughter.

Kim says it’s Tom’s dedication to the practice of Pilates that has made a significant difference.

As Joseph Pilates has said: “In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 you will see the difference and in 30 you’ll have a whole new body.” Joseph’s sessions were not spread out over several weeks; they were compressed in time.

“Tom is really good about doing his ‘homework,’ Kim says. “Tom has seen such wonderful progress thanks to his dedication and efforts both in and out of the studio.”

In addition to learning breathing techniques and focusing on building core strength, Tom says moves that open up his hips have healed his body tremendously. He’s seen improvements in his range of motion.

“When a surgeon says, ‘come back when you are ready [for surgery], it kind of wakes you up,” Tom says of his journey toward better health. “I knew I was having problems and I didn’t know why … I hope I never have to face that decision of needing to have surgery. Pilates truly has been a God-send. It’s been a wonderful experience to keep moving.”

Interested in learning more about how we can help you improve your health and well-being? Click here for details »