Pilates participant faces change, challenges with gusto

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One of the many benefits of Pilates is enhanced flexibility. That’s part of what drew Kathy Van Buskirk to Pilates in 2001. Kathy had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985, and although she remained active in subsequent years, she sought a solution to increased inflexibility and weakness in her abdominal muscles. “I really benefitted from Pilates’ emphasis on core strength and flexibility,” Kathy said.

For Kathy, flexibility goes beyond just muscle. In fact, she might just be one of the most flexible people you’ve ever met, rolling with life’s punches in a quiet but inspiring way. Her accepting, positive attitude about the many ups and downs of MS are extraordinary, and she puts her “one day at a time” philosophy toward every Pilates workout.

Kathy’s Pilates journey began with mat classes, which she did for 10 years, beginning in 2001 with Luba Takamoto in her studio. “The Pilates principles of centering, concentration, control and precision complemented my existing exercise regime,” Kathy said.

She then moved into Pilates Reformer classes in 2008, working with coordinator Terrell Goodson right after the program made its debut at the Apex Center. “I jumped into Reformer classes with no hesitation after doing mat classes,” she said.

Encouraged by the positive results she got from Pilates Reformer classes, a few years ago Kathy purchased her own Pilates tower reformer. Having the equipment in her home “helps with energy fluctuation, and it can be modified to what feels good.”

After more than 10 years doing Pilates, Kathy still finds herself challenged by the variety of exercises. “That’s one of the great things about it – the variety is almost infinite.” In addition, each instructor brings his or her own unique perspective, allowing for even more ways to engage and challenge the body and mind.

Although Kathy’s MS limits her ability to do high-impact activities such as aerobics and running, her background includes lots of cycling and running events and a stint teaching aerobics for Jefferson County Adult Education. She later switched to biking and walking, and also took hydrotherapy for three years. As walking and biking have become more challenging for her, the balance aspect of Pilates has really helped her.

Kathy was an Elementary Art Specialist for Jefferson County for 15 years. She was honored as Colorado Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for 1991-1992, and co-chaired the Jefferson County Elementary Art Show for 4 years. She pursues her own creative path now, working in her basement studio and referring to herself as a “jack of all trades, master of none!” She enjoys clay, batik, weaving and papermaking.

She also credits Pilates with helping her pursue her second passion – gardening. “I’m able to do far more in the garden since taking Pilates.”

Kathy is also a proud first-time grandmother, whose granddaughter Abbey was born in June. She and her husband are expecting their second grandchild in October.

Thanks to Kathy for sharing her inspiring journey. For more about the Pilates program at the Apex Center, visit apexprd.org or email Terrell Goodson, terrellg@apexprd.org.