Which part of the body gets the least of your love and care?
Please glance through one of the sport magazines and you will see all kinds of ways to get tighter abs, sexier shoulders, firmer buns, leaner legs etc.
Have you ever seen an article titled
“Get your feet in the best shape of your life!” or
“5 Best exercises for the sexiest feet ever” or maybe
“5 Crucial Tips to Work Out Your Feet Effectively.”
I don’t know about you, but for a long time I paid zero attention to my feet. It wasn’t until I started having knee pain while running that I shifted my fitness focus to the very bottom of my feet.
Right around that same time I started working with several clients who were suffering from bunions. My grandmother and my mother-in-law both had surgical procedures to ease the pain. Then finally I realized that feet couldn’t be taken for granted any more. Today I am a passionate proponent of healthy and well conditioned feet.
A couple of months ago I came across an interesting article Bunion Help: Two Toe Exercises for Correction and Relief by Michael Salvatore. The exercises were great so I kept on digging through Michael’s blog. There were so many awesome tips and ideas that I just had to contact Michael and ask him to be a contributor here at PilatesBridge (and he said “Yes”!)
Michael Salvatore is the owner and instructor at Foundation Pilates in New York City. Today I have the pleasure of introducing him to our wonderful Pilates community. In this interview Michael shares
- What other methods he uses successfully to complement his Pilates practice;
- his strategies on helping clients succeed with their goals
- as well as some personal interests that will make you smile.
1. Michael, what inspired your love for Pilates?
A physical therapist suggested Pilates so I could continue to work out while healing from a shoulder injury. I gave it a go and quickly became hooked. I was especially drawn to the ability to go deeper into each exercise, the striving to perfect a movement, and the fact that the mental workout was as exhilarating as the physical one. Those aspects drove me to learn more and become certified in Pilates.
2. What is your personal short definition of Pilates?
I’d say Pilates Elder Romana Kryzanowska summed it up best: “Stretch with strength and control.” This concept lets us take Pilates outside of the studio, teaching us how to sit, stand and move more efficiently.
3. What part does Pilates play in your life today (personally and professionally)?
My life has undergone a major overhaul over the last few years, and Pilates has played a significant role in the transformation. I put my business management career on hold to teach Pilates full-time, which has given me a tremendous boost in energy and clarity. I now focus on activities I love, surrounded by inspiring people I admire. I work with a lot of people that have limitations, a constant reminder that life is short; we need to enjoy every moment without taking things for granted. Pilates continues to reinforce what’s important in life.
4. How do you combine Pilates with other methods? What are good “companions” of a Pilates practice?
Pilates serves as the foundation for my sessions, and I combine Pilates with exercise and/or treatment methods that serve as compliments while addressing clients’ specific needs. These can include Foundation Training to activate the posterior chain of muscles, Barefoot Education/Rehabilitation to help improve posture and mobility, and clinical orthopedic manual therapy to help correct any number of dysfunctions. I may also introduce other techniques for additional benefits, such as spinal decompression to alleviate spinal pressure and joint mobilization to increase range of motion.
5. What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you when teaching or practicing Pilates?
My clients seemed to be hugely distracted whenever they were using the push through bar, quizzically asking about my interests, and I simply couldn’t figure it out. Or at least I couldn’t figure it out until one of them asked to look through one of my books on the bookcase at the end of the Cadillac by the push through bar. I took a look to see what book they were talking about, and it ended up the push through bar put clients eye level with a book leftover from my undergrad days. I had written a paper on the neurological basis of paraphilias, or fetishes, and the eye-level shelf still held one of my research items: “Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices.”
6. What is the most common issue that people come to your studio with?
Clients seeking pain relief are common, as are people looking for a way to continue exercising while recovering from an injury. People often want help with both issues.
7. What are your strategies to help your clients with this issue?
My first step is to get a thorough history from the client, testing for range of motion if it relates to his or her issue. I review what the person can and cannot do, noting limitations and weaknesses. I then tailor the sessions to alleviate the person’s symptoms and address the cause of the issue, two things that may be very different.
Clients get specific homework to help alleviate what’s bothering them. I also stress the importance of paying attention to the entire body and the root causes of a problem throughout their daily activities.
8. What is the most amazing transformation that you have ever seen in a client? What was your role in making this transformation happen?
Any improvement a client experiences is equally rewarding for me. The most amazing transformation probably came from two different stroke victims, each of whom had lost much of the voluntary control over one of their limbs.
Their lessons began with showing them how to move all limbs from the torso and then progress further outward to the limbs. Once neuromuscular endurance reached sufficient levels, their limbs started to free up and they slowly regained movement and control of their limbs. Fine motor movement can be the toughest goal to achieve, especially in the thumb – but when you get creative, you can find a way to work anything! One of the clients was able to perform an intermediate/advanced reformer workout in less than a year.
My role is to motivate, support and challenge my clients to work harder despite their setbacks during a session. I’m their cheerleader, celebrating even the smallest results.
9. Joseph Pilates in his book Return to Life through Contrology said “Above all, learn to breathe correctly”. If you were to give a similar advice what would it be?
Above all, respect your feet.