Alex Dainty led a Pilates-free life until an accident changed his life forever. When Alex was 21, he was hit by a drunk driver and became a double above-knee amputee. As a part of his recovery journey, Alex’s physiotherapist recommended that he try Pilates to build up his core strength and stability. What follows is an incredible story of willpower, dedication, and the healing power of Pilates.
Alex’s Pilates journey at a glance
“After the accident, Pilates was the perfect form of fitness for me. It provided accessible entry-level workouts, but the stronger I got, the more eager I became to challenge myself.
“I still remember my first Pilates session which was a decade ago, and now when I look back, it is so rewarding to see how far I’ve come. Pilates has undoubtedly been responsible for a huge amount of the progress I’ve seen in my life ever since,” Alex says.
Meeting STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Carlo Yanez at Core Kensington, UK
In 2018, Alex met Carlo Yanez, a STOTT PILATES Certified Instructor, co-founder and director of Core Kensington, UK. With Carlo’s help, Alex has gotten stronger and achieved many physical milestones.
“Pilates is the best way to kick-start my day. My routine begins with a one-on-one session with Carlo at Core Kensington in London three times a week at 7 a.m.
“Pilates allows me to push my limits and establish that mind-body connection. Carlo is always on board to help me switch up my routine to keep things interesting.
“He’s pushed me to do my best and he challenges me while allowing some time to appreciate how far I’ve come. I think your instructor and the Pilates studio you go to can have a huge influence on your experience. I’ve been lucky because I couldn’t possibly have wanted more,” Alex says.
Regaining strength and flexibility
“Pilates usually looks harder than it actually is. It is really enjoyable when you get it right,” Alex says.
Alex tells us that his favorite exercises over the years have helped him regain strength and flexibility. He describes Cadillac workouts to be ‘enormous fun’ even when the movements are a little difficult for him.
Alex’s workouts involve a lot of rotational movements, focusing on hip and pelvic strength and control. “My entire walking ability is dominated by the amount of pelvic strength and control I have. Carlo has customized my Pilates program according to my needs. Sometimes he would also include more challenging exercises to help me work on my body strength.”
Alex’s fitness journey hasn’t been a smooth sail. The fact that he has no control over his mechanical knees and ankles makes every exercise more challenging for him.
“At times it is frustrating but I push through knowing that I’m doing this for myself and how good I feel after my Pilates session,” Alex says.
Alex feels grateful to have Carlo by his side who motivates him to reach his fullest potential.
“There are some mental challenges too which lead to frustration. But Carlo has always been able to understand my requirements and adapt the movements according to my specific needs,” Alex says.
Pilates has also helped Alex cope with a lot of mental barriers. “With my condition, even the simplest tasks are difficult to do. Pilates has helped me achieve more strength and I feel more confident. This helps me navigate through complicated feelings such as stress or frustration.”
Alex is often required to wear full-size prosthetics which are the tallest and add to the challenge. “I will admit that it is difficult, but also very practical. I often wear full-size prosthetics in my day-to-day life. So it makes sense to work out wearing them as it also enhances my day-to-day mobility.”
A new life with Pilates
Like many people, Alex loves spending time in nature. But after the collision, simple activities like getting outside for a walk became hurdles. This is when Pilates came to the rescue.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that my world would be less joyous without Pilates. I enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities, such as golf, which requires immense torso and core strength and flexibility. Without Pilates, there’s no chance that I would be able to do this and be satisfied with my game,” Alex says.
Keeping motivated and consistent
Staying committed and motivated to a fitness routine is hard for everyone, but it is essential to achieve results.
“Find a place you enjoy going to with people you like. This has worked for me as I look forward to waking up and starting my day at Core Kensington. Like I said before, finding the right instructor who can understand you, boost your confidence, and make you feel better about your fitness level and ability is a game changer.
“Finally, sticking to a routine that works for you is one of the best motivators out there. It can be tough when you’re just starting out, but having some go-to exercises you can keep returning to is a great way to remind you of how far you’ve come. It’ll get easier and easier as you get stronger and more flexible,” Alex says.
Alex’s rehab journey from Carlo’s point of view
When Alex met Carlo, he needed to improve his core and hip strength as his main goal was to be able to walk with long prosthetic legs. He had to carry them to the studio every day as he did not have enough core and hip strength to be able to walk around with them.
“Alex had only been using short stubs, which eliminated the knee joint and did not require the strength, balance and stability that long prosthetic legs demand. The Vertical Frame on the Rehab V2 Max™ Reformer provided us with an infinite variety of options by simply changing the angulation in the line of pull. The Cadillac supported him while he developed initial core strength via the push-through bar, roll-down bar, and arm and leg springs.
“When Alex was strong enough to stand on his long prosthetic legs, we worked standing with the added challenge of the springs from the Vertical Frame Soon after, he was able to move to the SPX® Max Reformer for exercises like side splits instead of always having to be on the Rehab Reformer.
“Alex has used all the Merrithew Pilates equipment in his recovery journey, including the Split-Pedal Stability Chair™ and Ladder Barrel. As he got stronger, we were able to decrease the base of support and increase the challenge,” Carlo says.
The significance of STOTT PILATES Rehab Education
Carlo credits his STOTT PILATES Education as giving him the ability to think ‘out-of-the-box’ and design effective and personalized exercise programs for every client.
“The STOTT PILATES® Rehab Education gave me many more tools to help customize workouts for complex clients like Alex. I am able to teach different variations and modifications for spinal and peripheral conditions.
“I am able to use the Pilates equipment with Alex in ways a traditional Pilates course cannot cover. The course theory is phenomenal, and up-to-date with the latest research. Many of the exercise variations mimic the techniques I use in the clinic as a registered osteopath. This allows me to integrate the exercises into our clinic practice and teach patients and clients how to help themselves at home,” Carlo says.
The STOTT PILATES Rehab course has provided Carlo with great insight into how to translate his hands-on clinical modalities on the Pilates equipment.
“I was able to challenge Alex safely on the Pilates equipment. For example, Alex would sometimes come in for an exercise session with back pain. We would address it with osteopathic treatment and then use the equipment to support the given treatment with specific modifications that I learned in the rehab course,” Carlo explains.
A message for the world
“Pilates is one of the most versatile workouts. There is something for everyone and once you get used to it, there is no going back,” Alex says.
The healing power of Pilates has played a huge role in helping Alex get where he is today. “My life wouldn’t be the same without Pilates. It keeps me strong and flexible and makes everything easier. The best part is that Pilates is enough on its own. I don't add any extra training or exercise to feel this way.”
Alex gives a huge shout-out to Carlo and the team at Core Kensington for welcoming him into their studio and helping him progress far beyond what he thought he was capable of.
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