The Business of Physical Therapy and Pilates
There were three factors that formally spread the Pilates Method into the Physical Therapy radar by the early 1990’s.
First, Sean Gallagher, a successful Broadway P.T. bought the Pilates trademark and not only presented it at Physical Therapy conferences, but worked out the diagnostic codes for the insurance companies to assign ancillary monies for the modality. The second was the mass production of equipment, adapting it for therapy with lighter springs and adjustable ropes, and then,the formalization of Pilates training courses.
Within ten years Pilates branched from the fitness and entertainment worlds into the orthopedic fields throughout the United States, and continuing in England, and Australia.
After the Pilates trademark was ruled generic, Pilates would spread in the new century to every corner of the globe.
Michael Garret, trained in the UK as a physiotherapist, as they are called abroad, worked along side Pilates teachers for six years while treating the London Royal Ballet dancers, and, then with gymnasts at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“I find them an exciting part of the multi-disciplinary approach,” says Garret. “ When there is a team, we might not use the same language but there are many ways to solve a problem that benefits the high-performing athletes. It is a real value to the client.”
Garret, an athlete himself who is finishing his PhD at Boston University, is also studying classical Pilates, “to experience the original work in my own body.” He is opening a Gratz wellness center in his Physioworks practice in Nantucket, Massachusetts this spring.
“I am always pushing my patients into movement therapies,” and now, his patients will continue working on their health when their therapy phases are completed.
”Physical therapy exercises are not fun, they are boring and people will not continue them in time. I like the Pilates teachers, they are creative and have fun with the exercises.”
For Cristina Gabor, a P.T. and founder of Orthosport Physical Therapy in Culver City, California, Pilates started as a personal exercise in 2004. It kept her strong for the physical demands of lifting and moving people. “I thought, My God, this would be amazing for people who have a bad back. As I kept doing it I wondered how come we are not doing this?” said Gabor, a native of St. Petersberg, Russia who immigrated to the U.S. in 1985.
Gabor had her whole team of therapists and aides in three of her clinics trained in Pilates Therapy, and they use the Balanced Body Cadillac, Reformer, Chair, Pedipole, Foot Corrector and Magic Circle on their able patients. The patients may start on the Cadillac as a treatment station using light therabands but then they progress to light springs.
“It is an investment and we never got distracted by the trendy stuff. Patients like one on one attention. Pilates re-educates and trains them. People love it and it’s a really great regiment!”
Alycea Ungarro always intended to be a physical therapist and got certified in Pilates by Romana Kryzanowska in 1995, opening a studio so she would have a job to put her through school and clients when she came out.
By the time she passed the New York boards in1999 her business had 250 clients a week and she had a small office in the back of the studio where she would see an occasional frozen shoulder or bad knee or ankle. ”After the babies came I had to shelve something and at the end of the day the business was generating more revenues” said Ungarro, who moved more into writing books, leading seminars and training teachers.
“Mr. Pilates referred to his method as ‘health control.’ As a physical therapist myself, I can attest to Pilates’ rightful place in a therapeutic setting. What I find the most valuable is the way Pilates can straddle the fence between passive, assisted rehabilitation, and active, self-guided rehabilitation,” writes Ungarro in her latest book, 15 Minute Everyday Pilates.
“Concentration, which is key in Pilates, makes a tremendous
difference in the healing process. Pilates is a perfect place to practice this
biofeedback process and have a dialogue with your body.”
A physical therapist AND a Pilates teacher. How does she see the body?
”Through my Pilates eyes. I get people in a strengthening program right away. I’m a real advocate in strength training from the ground up.”
How does she train the teachers?
“I teach people with a case study, to look for two or three patterns or limitations. I teach them to step back from movement and look at the whole picture. You can’t go micro until you go macro. Any qualified teacher can identify weaknesses. Then they have to find the moves that helps them-and there are 500! You don’t have to make any up!”