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Lisa T. -February 2010 Client of the Month


When Lisa walked into the studio, she was in horrible pain and without much hope that she could feel better. She was on a medical leave of absence from work and spent much of her time icing her back. Before being injured, she was a vibrant elementary school teacher and avid world traveler.

 "A year and a half ago, I slipped at work and slipped a disc at the same time. I underwent four months of physical therapy, chiropractic appointments and two epidurals. Doctors were telling me that the pain was 'normal' and I'd probably be in pain for the rest of my life. My daily activities had become excruciating. I was so badly injured that walking was painful. After trying yoga, I started Pilates."


When Lisa started working at Aspire, we started out slowly. "The first couple of weeks in private sessions, we worked on breathing exercises to get my core muscles to kick in. It doesn't sound like much, but I was in pain and too weak for anything else." These basic exercises gave Lisa a solid sense of body awareness, began strengthening her deep core muscles, and helped to stabilize her spine. In order to minimize her pain, we also suggested changes in how Lisa approached her daily activities, such as how to sit while grading papers and positions in which to sleep, which began to make an impact on how she felt.


Prior to beginning Pilates at Aspire, Lisa had little success relieving her pain or strengthening her body. But with this new and careful "inside out" Pilates approach, she gained strength, stability, improved body mechanics and endurance. She worked very hard throughout the summer, integrating the new techniques into her life. Then just before school started, a dramatic announcement came from her doctor: Lisa was cleared to return to work! "When I went back to work, I was SO HAPPY, but so nervous that I was going to hurt myself again or be back in pain. Thankfully, that hasn't happened."


Lisa continues to get stronger and stronger. After 18 months of not being able to workout or exercise, she still surprises herself that she is now able to spend an hour on the Elliptical. "Now I really understand what it means to use my core and am always surprised that now my stomach and legs are doing most of the work for me instead of my back."


"At my last appointment, the doctor said that my injury was considered 'stationary' and that I was working at 90%. Tonya has made it her personal challenge to help get me back to 100%." Will Lisa ever be back to 100%? Only time will tell. But through her hard work and positive attitude, Lisa has already gone far beyond what she or her doctors had dared to imagine. With less than eight months under her Pilates belt, she gets stronger and stronger, and the quality of her life has changed for the better. Our guess? That we will soon see Lisa, once again, leading youth groups across the world.


Best of luck, Lisa! You are a true inspiration!



Debbie G. - September Client of the Month

"I'll be doing Pilates for Life!" 
- Debbie G.

Debbie G. started classes at Aspire six months ago. As a martial artist and avid skier, she's always had an active lifestyle. While skiing eighteen years ago, she fell off a twenty five foot cliff and landed seat first on a boulder. After five ski patrollers successfully lowered her off of the mountain by gurney, she suffered a few harrowing hours of waist down paralysis. Thankfully, Debbie's movement returned, but she never felt quite like her old self after the accident. 

Debbie was plagued over the years by never ending bouts of hip, back and shoulder pain. 

"As I got older, my body started locking up on me. I had really lost my flexibility and I always hurt so badly. I had trouble getting out of bed and standing up again after sitting. Movement was very painful and the pain made me unhappy, moody and tired. I felt like I was becoming a miserable person." 

Debbie knew that she wanted to be able to live her active life style and knew that she wanted to address her pain, "But I had no idea that it was really possible. What was happening to my body was scary because I'm only in my 50's, not 90!" A friend suggested that she try Pilates. Debbie says that she saw a new world of possibilities when she visited Aspire and watched Tonya working with "a vivacious, 80 year old client in such great shape". 

Debbie began taking group classes twice a week and within a few weeks felt a decrease in her pain level. Within a few more weeks, she noticed an increase in her flexibility. She also realized that how she moved in her daily life was changing.

"I've always used a stick to close the drapes because I had trouble reaching the top near the rod. Now I can touch the very top, and I don't even have to stand on my tippy toes to close them. And I knew that something was very different the day that I could balance with one foot on the edge of the tub and reach my toes to put on lotion."

Since starting to feel better, Debbie is back in full swing training in Aikido. She also has noticed major changes in her outlook on life.

"All of a sudden, I noticed that my happy go lucky attitude was back and I was starting to enjoy life again. I'm more consistently in a good mood and I catch myself whistling, which I haven't done in years. I'm thrilled to know that my bad moods and unhappiness were not who I was becoming, but were due to pain. I am so grateful to Aspire Pilates Center for helping me get this back".


Debbie at Hikari Dojo in Martinez, CA.

Debbie continues to get stronger, more flexible and more balanced everyday. Her body mechanics are becoming healthier and her pain level gets lower and lower. She might never get back to her 30 something self who fell off the cliff that day, but she is definitely taking her body and mind to a new place.

Recently, Debbie reminded me of how excited she was when she saw the 80 year old, energetic client her first day in the studio, and excitedly stated: "I'll be doing Pilates for life!"


July 2009 Client of the Month! - Judy E.!

"I tell you, I AM 100% PAIN FREE! NO JOKE!!!"
- Judy E., Client of the Month




Judy works in the same office complex as Aspire, so over the past few years we've swapped stories about family and home life. During several friendly conversations, she mentioned in passing about her excruciating back pain. I told her "Pilates, Pilates, Pilates!" 

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles that stabilize the spine first, then builds outwards. We have seen many, many clients regain their quality of life after strengthening their core and reducing or eliminating their back pain.

No Light at the End of the Tunnel

After Judy had spoken with her doctor and read several Internet articles on Sciatica, she became more and more concerned that pain may be something that she "was going to have to live with" for the rest of her life. There wasn't much light at the end of the tunnel when it came to relieving Judy's pain. 


"I literally had to stop 4 times on a drive home from Lake Tahoe because the pain was so bad sitting down. After seeing a sports therapist that 'rearranged' things and helped it for about 2 days, taking pain pills, muscle relaxers, heating pads, ice packs, and everything my doctor prescribed/suggested, I was basically desperate. So I started at Aspire. I was skeptical because I am not in very good physical condition, and wasn't sure how Pilates was going to help." 
- Judy E., Client of the Month

Pilates the Aspire Way

At Aspire, safety always comes first. We started slowly and made sure that every movement and exercise was safe and would not increase Judy's pain level. We also taught Judy how each exercise affected her anatomy.

"Usually when I take some kind of exercise class, the instructors are not very informative. They don't tell you why you need to do what they tell you to do. Its like, 'Just to do it.' Tonya actually took the time to explain what she was having me do and why, and what each exercise strengthens and affects. That helped me A LOT because I was able to take home what I learned in class." 

- Judy E., Client of the Month

Profound Results After Just 3 Classes!

Although we take the slow and steady approach at Aspire, Judy was able to achieve great results after her third class. Ironically, Judy almost didn't attend class that night because of pain. After finishing a core strengthening exercise mid-class, an astonished Judy exclaimed:


"Oh, my God! My pain is gone!! This is impossible!" 

Needless to say, the whole class applauded. This is why I teach Pilates!

"That was the best money ever spent. Still, to this day, if I even feel a little twinge, - Pilates exercises. Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!!! I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you have done for me." 

- Judy E., Client of the Month

Judy did it for herself! She learned basic Pilates concepts and exercises appropriate for her body in class, and now practices them at home to maintain her strength. Judy is now in control of her own pain level. She has fun skiing with her 11 year old son and once again enjoys activities that used to make her wince just thinking about them. Congratulations, Judy! To many more pain free years!