Inspiration of the Month Karen Viars

Pilates Inspiration of the Month Karen Viars

When did you start Pilates and what inspired you to start?

I first started Pilates about 10 years ago and didn’t stick with it for long. In the Fall of 2020, deep into the pandemic, I was dealing with an ongoing back injury and wanted to find an activity that I could do at home that would make me feel stronger, and Pilates came to mind again. I wasn’t sure that it would work as an online class, but I also knew I wasn’t going to go to a studio during the pandemic. I was a beginner the last time I did Pilates, and didn’t advance very far, so the idea of pre-recorded classes didn’t appeal to me, either.

I found Rachel Piper (a Rivercity Pilates Instructor) on Instagram and asked her if she knew of anyone who teaches online, and she gave me the studio’s contact info. I did a free private session with Carey, and Pilates felt as good as I remembered, so I kept going! I’ve never visited the studio, or met Carey in-person, but the level of teaching and attention to detail is very much like my previous in-person experiences. 

How often do you practice Pilates?

I do weekly sessions with Carey, and have taken many of the workshops that the studio regularly offers, too. I’ve enjoyed all of them. 

What benefits or improvements have you experienced in your life?

One dramatic example happened just three months after I started Pilates again: I had a fall down some stairs. The body awareness that Pilates classes created helped me know right away that while I was bruised, I was (fortunately) not seriously injured. I could tell that my range of motion was normal and I was going to be fine. Pilates also helped me get back into exercise the next week. On a day-to-day basis, I am more strong, stable, balanced and I love how I feel when I’m doing Pilates. 

How do you incorporate Pilates into your daily activities?

In-between weekly sessions, I do what I call “bite-sized Pilates.” I don’t do a full hour long class, or even half an hour. I do the stomach series with my morning tea, or practice rolldowns between calls for work, or some mermaid stretches to finish out the day. I don’t schedule it, but I just find a few minutes to fit in. Pilates feels great after working at a computer all day!

Do you have a favorite exercise or piece of equipment ( or both!)? 

I’ve gotten serious enough about my practice to buy a Wunda chair, and it’s the best! Carey gave me a ton of great advice about what to look for and the pros and cons of different models as I was thinking about which one to pick. I love using it for footwork or running, where I get to work on strength, stretching and balance all at the same time. I also love the roll down, both on the chair or on the mat. That spinal articulation feels amazing! My previous Pilates experience was entirely on the reformer, so I’ve enjoyed getting to know more of the mat exercises, as well as what’s possible with the Wunda chair. 

What would you say to someone who was thinking about starting Pilates? 

Absolutely give it a try, even if you’re not in the same physical place! I came back to Pilates completely out of practice, unsure of what a back injury would allow me to do, and a little uncertain about online Pilates teaching because it’s a movement practice. I’ve gotten support, guidance, thoughtful instruction that have led to more strength, more flexibility and a greater level of knowledge about how my body works. It’s a great idea for almost anyone to try.

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