In honor of Movember, we’re celebrating men’s health by raising awareness and celebrating the men we love and the men who love Pilates. Fishbein Physical Therapy, kinected’s in-house physical therapy program is run by Elliot Fishbien, PT, OCS, CFMT, FAAOMPT, who shares his journey to Pilates and its effects on his health and well-being below.
When I was in my late 20’s I had a fairly healthy routine. I worked out 3-5 days/week, was riding my bike regularly, and played a variety of other sports at least 1x/week. As I moved into my 30’s things took a turn for the worse. Sinus infections that I had been getting throughout my 20’s worsened to a point that I would get about 6 of them per year, often requiring more than one dose of antibiotics to manage them, meaning I was often on antibiotics for anywhere from a 1/4 to 1/2 of my year. In addition, I found that if I worked out or exercised even slightly too hard for my body to handle, I would get a cold that would immediately turn into a sinus infection. Thus I became increasingly fearful of exercise, as the infections were exhausting and often debilitating, so I dramatically decreased my amount of physical activity.
As I got into my mid and late 30’s, I had more responsibilities at work, was working 2+ full time jobs and had 2 kids. Along with this my infections worsened to a point where I was almost constantly on antibiotics. I finally found a doctor who was willing to try a surgical option to open my sinuses and since then have had a fairly significant drop in the frequency of the infections. By this time I was almost 40 years old, and my body was feeling it. I’ve had low back pain since youth, but my left hip and shoulder were hurting after tearing my labrum in both. Now that I was less fearful of exercise, I wanted to try to stop this physical decline, but it was so much harder then when I was in my 20’s. I had multiple jobs, 2 children and taught continuing education on 5-10 weekends/year. Also, after 10 years of aging and inactivity, when I would exercise, I was shocked at how weak and de-conditioned I was. Motivating was hard as I was generally exhausted due to my extra life responsibilities, which made it hard to muster up the energy to get back in the gym, basketball or tennis court.
The thing I really had to wrestle with was this: Was I just going to sit back and allow this to happen, or was I going to take charge and make my body a priority? I had to realize that if I didn’t the take time, energy and financial resources to prioritize my body, things were only going to get worse.
The big motivator for me that really got me back on track was my children. If I didn’t take time to keep my body and mind healthy, I may not be around for them, may not have the energy to care for them, or even worse, they’d have to care for me. I decided this was not acceptable and I started making changes. I decided that I would not pursue the degree necessary to continue my university teaching job effectively, ending my time there, and that I would expand my clinical practice, which would be less labor and time intensive. I started slowly, doing what my body and schedule could initially handle which was one Pilates session/week and daily maintenance exercises that I knew to maintain the health of my back, hips and shoulders. I also gave up taking elevators and escalators except when with my kids.
Gradually, over the course of one year, I expanded this to add on 1 group Pilates class/week and changed my diet to largely remove gluten and sugar as they made me feel bloated and tired. In addition I started seeing a Functional Manual Therapist and a Craniosacral therapist about 1x/month to maintain my physical wellness and energy. I then added on riding my bike to and from work 1x/week and have recently started playing basketball weekly. My next goal is to progress to riding my bike to work at least 2x/week and either adding another sport or a long bike ride on my weekend to the program.
Stay tuned for more testimonials and don’t miss studio director ￼Matt McCulloch’s upcoming masterclass, The Male Client, which proceeds will go to the Movember Foundation. November 30th: 1-2:15pm, $25.