Certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor
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Fitness and wellness have been a way of life for Terri Todd as long as she can remember. But having her hips resurfaced, first one hip, then seven years later, the other, showed her the difference Pilates can make. Prior to her first surgery, she only did weight training, and her recovery was standard. For her second surgery, she pre-habbed and rehabbed with Pilates, and achieved amazing results. This discovery ignited a passion for Pilates that led to her organizing a successful charity event to support veterans in her community.
This is her story.
For Terri Todd, fitness and wellness were a way of life as much as they were her business. So when a friend opened a Pilates studio a couple of towns over from her home in upstate New York, her curiosity was piqued. At the time, she was a busy single mother raising three children, two sons and a daughter, and didn’t have the time or financial ability to travel to train in Pilates. But the exercise method was always in the back of her mind. When her sons eventually joined the military and her daughter went off to college, she made the decision to train in STOTT PILATES® in 2016. The next year she had hip resurfacing surgery, and what happened next shocked her. “I had my first hip resurfacing in 2010, and it took me a month to walk unassisted,” she says. But training in Pilates in preparation for her second hip surgery seven years later was amazing. “I was out of bed an hour after surgery, and was walking unassisted three days later.” Her surgery also meant that she couldn’t do other forms of exercise until she had healed completely, but certain Pilates exercises were still available to her.
When Terri had recovered enough to safely return to her weightlifting routine, she noticed a difference. “I lifted more than I had prior, I went from a 25-pound dumbbell to 30 pounds in the first workout.”
The difference was a defining moment for Terri. “If it did this for me, I want to give this to others,” she says. She decided to build her own practice with the love and support of her husband, David. She rented a space at a local fitness center, bought a Reformer, and got to work sharing her knowledge with her clients. As her practice grew, so did her equipment acquisitions. She now works with 4 Reformers, 2 Stability Chairs, 1 Ladder Barrel and offers mat classes with a mix of fitness accessories. She gradually introduced Pilates into workouts with her existing personal training clients, and mixed in other fitness modalities, such as TRX, with Pilates exercises. “People loved it so much, it’s hard to keep them away from my Pilates classes,” she says. “An intro session is often more than enough to show the value of the method to people and have them commit to a package.”
It wasn’t long before Terri was presented with an opportunity to use her Pilates training in an even more generous way. Her two sons are former marines, and the younger son works at Clearpath for Veterans, a nearby facility that provides health and wellness options for veterans, including access to doctors, massage therapy, acupuncture and more. One initiative at Clearpath is the Dogs2Vets program. Run by Ryan Woodruff, the program brings in a number of puppies and dogs to be trained as service and support animals for veterans in need of them.
Terri had seen a puppy Pilates class on Instagram that was run by a studio to raise money for the Humane Society and had an idea. What if she were to teach a Pilates class with puppies to raise funds for Clearpath for Veterans? Terri’s first thought wasn’t as charitable as she would have liked. “I thought, I don’t want those puppies on my $80 mats!” she says, laughing. Her initial misgiving quickly faded, and she threw herself into organizing the event. Two mat classes of up to 50 people each, and five puppies to add a playful touch.
And people responded. When she advertised the event on Facebook, 164 people were interested within one week. When she launched ticket sales online, the first class sold out in just over 24 hours. The second class was soon filled as well. What was even more impressive is that Terri only knew nine people in both classes—the majority of participants were strangers.
She raised a total of $3,040 for Clearpath for Veterans. On stage, seeing the results of her hard work was overwhelming. “When I saw everyone there, I almost started crying,” she says.
For Pilates Instructors thinking about hosting charity events of their own, Terri has this advice: “Find an event that is near to your heart,” she says. Be mindful of what people need and understand the limits of what you can provide. “Everybody has something going on in their life, and you don’t want to exploit that,” she says. Terri notes that even as you set an example for other instructors to use their love of Pilates to benefit those in need, you'll also have exposed new people to the benefits of Pilates. And finally, just do it. “All it’s costing you is time,” she says.