There are many studies and statistics that support how effective Pilates exercise is for both the body as well as the mind. Practicing mindful movement is not only great for physical health but can also have positive effects on emotional and mental health. This type of well-rounded fitness can be beneficial to those in all stages of life. While studies and statistics are great, nothing speaks louder than hearing firsthand stories of how Pilates has worked to heal the body and the mind.
In today’s blog post we are relating a heartwarming story about a client of Claremont Sanctuary Pilates in California as told by his instructors Janice Berkenheger and Julia Bourne.
Jacques Raiman was an 80 year old man from Paris, France, visiting California. His son brought him into Claremont Sanctuary Pilates in October of 2012 to see if he could do Pilates. The studio welcomed Jacques with open arms and scheduled him an appointment.
When Jacques came in for his first session he was introduced to Pilates using the Reformer. His instructor Janice remembers him being very quiet and focused. When the session was over Jacques wanted to come back to do Pilates every day. He took pleasure in taking control of his body and said that Pilates made him feel present in the moment. Janice remembers that Jacques would smile every time he could feel his abs burn during an exercise. Janice scheduled him in for one-hour sessions five days a week. He was planning on staying in Claremont for approximately six weeks.
After working with Jacques for a few weeks, Janice recalls him beginning to open up and sharing details about his life. His wife, who he had been caring for during her illness had passed away just six months earlier. She had been the love of his life for nearly 60 years. He was heartbroken. His son had brought him to California to visit his grandson hoping to lift his spirits. Jacques also shared that he had a heart attack only eight months prior to coming into the studio. Needless to say Jacques was not in good physical or emotional condition. Janice explains:
“I had no idea at that time what a good friend and inspiration Jacques would become. During his first session, he very enthusiastically said he loved it and wanted to come every day! Throughout his training I could see his transformation both physically and emotionally. He had inspired all of us in the Pilates Studio.”
– STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor,
It seemed the more Jacques learned about Pilates, the more he loved it. He was very naturally curious about which muscles were supposed to be working with each exercise. As he progressed through his training he began to have a very thorough understanding of Pilates and the philosophy behind it. He went back to France standing taller and stronger than when he arrived and in better physical and mental condition. He came back the following February and stayed until May. During that time he continued with Pilates five times each week. He was walking and eating healthier as well. He had continued with his Pilates practice when he was in Paris at a studio he found near his apartment. It was during this trip that he said the following:
"Why is it that every time I look forward to another Pilates session? The answer lies in the morale, physical effects, and the very pleasant atmosphere of the studio. As an 80 year old man, I arrived in Claremont quite depressed and physically in very bad shape. The positive morale effects were the fastest, with the pleasure of taking control of my body and forcing the mind to be here and now and not to dwell on the past without rest. It is concentrating on life itself. The body now is much stronger, spectacular improvements everywhere, notably the abs and back muscles.
– Jacques R.
Instructor Training at any Life Stage
His instructor Janice remembers when the two began having conversations about Instructor Training. Jacques had a second home in a rural area in the South of France. There were no Pilates instructors there. He wanted to learn more, so he could work out there on his own, and he also wanted to be able to teach his friends so they could experience the benefits of Pilates.
Then that was it, at the age of 80 Jacques became excited about taking on this new challenge and decided to go through the Intensive Reformer Instructor Course. He had bought a Merrithew® V2 Max Plus™ Reformer and had it delivered to his house in the South of France. His Instructor Janice at the Claremont Sanctuary Pilates contacted the Merrithew® Licensed Training Center, John Garey Fitness & Pilates in Southern California and scheduled him private classes with Instructor Trainer Julia Bourne for the following March of 2015. Julia was touched by his reason for wanting to take the Instructor Training:
He wanted to train his family and friends back home in France and help them improve their posture and become stronger. He felt he had gained so much from his own training with Janice that he wanted to help other people do the same.”
– STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainer,
Julia recounts Jacques arriving in California very excited and a little nervous. During his training he was determined to try as many of the Intermediate exercises as he could. His trainer Julia would offer him the modification of the exercise and he would say “I think I can try the full version”.
As a student Jacques was quick to pick up the anatomy, even though English was not his first language. He enjoyed doing the postural analysis and programming workouts for different postures. He finished the training in 7 days and was eager to come back and take his exam at the end of the year after he had practiced teaching at home. Upon completing the course Jacques’ smile said it all, he was so proud that he was able to both physically and mentally complete the Intensive Reformer Instructor Course. Jacques made plans to come back in the fall to take his full certification exam.
Unfortunately, Jacques never had the chance to become fully certified as he passed away in April, 2015, just a short time after returning to Paris. His Instructors Janice and Julia say they will be inspired by him for the rest of their lives and they will never forget his strength and determination. Both were amazed by his transformation. He went from depressed and heartbroken to a man who stood tall and had a new found joy and sense of purpose in his life, something profound for someone at any stage in life.
If we take anything away from his story let it be that it is never too late to try something new and it is never too late to become stronger both mentally and physically. It is clients like Jacques and Instructors like Janice and Julia that demonstrate the impact mind-body exercise can have on people’s lives. Do you have an inspirational story of how Pilates has inspired you and your clients to be more mindful in everything you do?