Updated: Aug 4
My own personal experiences with accidents, surgery and recovery from birth, have all taught me the importance of strengthening and conditioning my body.
I wanted to share my personal journey with you to explain how important Pilates has been in my life. It's not only helped my antenatal and postnatal journey, but also helped me to recover from some serious injuries.
I qualified with a BSc Hons degree in Physiotherapy in 2001 and I’ve been a physio ever since - can’t quite believe it’s over 20 years!!
I have worked within several healthcare settings including orthopaedics, rheumatology and musculoskeletal and outside of work for several sports teams for 10+ years before starting in private practice.
I developed a love for rehabilitation using strength and conditioning methods to help my clients recover to full fitness. During this time, I completed a PG Diploma in Sports Medicine & Exercise and an MSc in Advanced Practice in Physiotherapy.
Why I was inspired to take up Pilates
I played hockey throughout my school and university life, but knee and hip injuries left me unable to continue playing.
I started my first physio job and it was then that my body just started to break down.
A couple of months into my job, I was involved in a bad car accident. I badly injured my neck. This was my second road traffic accident and neck injury within a couple of years. Whilst I was fortunate to be able to walk away from both, pain and stiffness in my neck became an ongoing issue.
I sought to find a way to rehabilitate my neck and help me manage my niggling knee and hip injuries.
That's when I discovered Pilates.
I started Pilates initially just for short-term rehabilitation of my injuries, but I quickly discovered the amazing benefits of Pilates. I began to see improvements in my strength, flexibility, relaxation and stress management.
I started integrating Pilates exercises into the rehabilitation programmes of my clients with great success.
After my first baby Noah was born I attended some Pilates classes and practised regularly at home to help my recovery.
The benefit I gained from doing Pilates inspired me to become an instructor myself.
I soon began my Pilates teacher training with the APPI. Over the following few years, I completed my full training and certification including antenatal and postnatal training.
As soon as I qualified, I had baby number two (Phoebe).
During these years I suffered several miscarriages but my Pilates really helped me deal with the stress and difficulty at this point in my life.
In 2011 I started teaching my first classes. I took three Pilates classes including one antenatal class one evening a week in a church hall. I’m delighted to say I still have some clients coming to me after all these years.
Pilates for postnatal and post-gynae surgery recovery
By 2012 I had grown my classes to two evenings a week while working full time and that was the year my twins Archie & Tilly were born. Once again my Pilates played a big part in my postnatal recovery and it’s certainly something I’d recommend to all mums in the antenatal and postnatal stages and beyond.
We now run pre and postnatal reformer classes and a new mum and baby Physio-led class in Hillsborough.
The creation of All Active Pilates and Physio
In 2014 i was juggling alot from a full tme job, part time Pilates instructor and bringing up four young children. With the support of my husband I made a big decision to go part time in my job and founded All Active Pilates and Physio.
I wanted a job that would give me satisfaction and that I could enjoy and follow my passion for Physiotherapy and teaching Pilates whilst bringing up my four children.
My heartfelt vision was to help more people move better and feel better.
Later in 2014 when the twins were still babies we went on holiday to America. During the trip I became really unwell. I somehow managed to make it home and my doctor sent me straight to A&E.
Whilst in hospital, my condition worsened and I ended up having emergency gynae surgery to remove an infected ovary and fallopian tube.
I was determined to get back to my Pilates teaching as soon as possible post-surgery as I knew it would help my mental and physical recovery after what was one of the most awful experiences of my life.
A bike injury and spinal surgery recovery
I had taken up cycling back in 2012, around the time my twins were born.
I have always had a passion for improving my own health and fitness and cycling appealed to me as a way to challenge myself, as well as enjoy fitness in a sociable environment.
I considered myself fit and active and never considered the need to have proper bike set-up.
In the Summer of 2016 and 2017, I undertook some big events (for me!) including my first triathlon and the Maracycle - a two-day 200-mile cycle to Dublin and back. Little did I realise that a niggling back pain that I picked up during training was the start of a significant injury.
I woke up one day towards the end of that summer in 2017 with severe low back pain, excruciating leg pain and numbness in my foot - I was unable to do a single calf raise!
Following an MRI scan my consultant told me that I had sustained a significant disc prolapse of L5/S1 disc with nerve root damage. Fortunately for me, my knowledge as a physio helped me understand my injury and its consequences.
Three months later, I made a difficult decision to have back surgery in the hope that I would regain strength in my calf. Fortunately, my calf strength returned and although I still have some permanent numbness and ongoing back pain I am grateful to be very functional and have been able to return to cycling and running.
Again, pilates was a major part of my rehabilitation back to a full recovery and continues to help me manage my body, back pain, my fitness and my well-being.
Pilates for Cycling
My back injury led me down a couple of new pathways regarding my Pilates teaching.
Firstly, not long after, I travelled to Bristol with a good friend and learnt how to become a Clinical Bike Fitter.
Not long after my bike fit course I completed teacher training in ‘Pilates for Cycling’ and ‘Pilates for Runners’.
My aim is to share my skills and knowledge and increase awareness of the benefits of riding a bike that has been properly fitted.
Today, we offer a full BikeFit assessment which includes a personalised Pilates for Cyclists program. We also provide a 6 week online course which includes four Pilates for cyclists classes with short bonus sessions using the foam roller and spikey balls.
Full time Pilates & Reformer
After I recovered from my back surgery in 2017 I left my job to pursue my Pilates and Physio business as a full-time career.
I was very excited to attend the ‘Reformer Teacher Training‘ course, which I completed at the start of 2019. For me it was a way of taking Pilates to the next level and incorporating more strength-based training into my classes.
Our Reformer studio in Hillsborough opened in March 2019 offering small group classes and private sessions. The reformer has also become a great form of rehabilitation for my physio clients.
Surviving and thriving during lockdown
During lockdown, we delivered online Pilates and helped support our clients keeping them active and connected through a difficult time.
The Covid lockdown has left us with a legacy in the form of our online Pilates channel which we continue to add classes to on a regular basis. Our channel offers unlimited access to 140+ classes is available to access for only £4 a week.
We opened our second reformer studio in Dromore in August 2021. From this studio in the centre of Dromore we run small group reformer classes (5 max) and private Pilates, Reformer and Physio.
Over the past year, our studio classes and Pilates classes in Dromore, Hillsborough and Lisburn and online grew to 50.
I wanted to share my personal experiences in the hope that it gives others inspiration to get started with exercise to help with pain and injury.
Our business provides a range of services to help support people and our classes can help provide support, motivation and accountability. If you're interested in Pilates why not try a taster session, or take a look at the range of classes we offer near you.
Or if you want advice or have any questions, just get in touch.