Thursday, 23 August 2012

Pilates: Yay or Nay?

A few weeks ago, at the recommendation of my favourite physio in Perth, I started Pilates. I have a chronic shoulder/neck condition and have spent the last 12 years searching far and wide for a cure. I am SUPER awesome at starting things (Tae Kwon Do, running, dancing, tennis, painting- the list goes on); not so good at following through. Usually something else will come up, I'll cancel the appointment with the intention of rescheduling and then accidentally-on-purpose forget to call. This time it was a bout of bronchitis :( Ive never had bronchitis before and it was a physically crippling experience. It started with a simple cough (that kept me up all night) and left me clutching my chest and unable to walk a short distance without making me feel like I was having an asthma attack. This, from the person who has had adult whooping cough, influenza, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis (at the same time!) and a bee allergy that landed me in hospital for three days. So, yeah, it was pretty nasty.

But back to my commitment issues. My first pilates appointment was a 45min assessment with a humourless young lady (she didn't laugh at my self-deprecating humour- WHO DOESN'T FIND MY SELF-DEPRECATING HUMOUR FUNNY???) who took me through various muscle exercises and made a thorough examination of my strengths and weaknesses. I got to play with one of those giant gym balls (I ended up buying one!) and learned that I have "winged" scapulae [insert Duck joke here], terrible posture (duh), scoliosis (already knew this) and, weirdly, I am quite flexible. I found the last revelation particularly strange since my back/shoulders are so stuffed that I can't even touch my toes. Appalling, I know. The assessment was supposed to wound me to the tune of $80 but I latched onto some half-price deal and my health insurance covered the rest (FYI: Pilates is covered under Physiotherapy- neat, huh?). The owner of the Pilates place- Premier Sports Medicine- is this 30ish disarmingly friendly French dude who kept smiling at me and freaked me out a little. He booked my next appointments for physiotherapy and another one-on-one pilates class. I have NO idea how I got roped into physiotherapy with them- I already attend a place in the city on Collins St and I am quite happy with it because it's cheap ($55/session as opposed to $78 at the pilates place) but the French dude sort of, er, smiled me into it. Damn you, smiley French man!!

I fully intended to go to my appointments the next week but then I got sick. I also decided to a little investigation into Smiley French Dude (SFD) because a comment by my pilates instructor niggled at me a bit- she mentioned that pilates was a "holistic approach". This set off a few alarm bells in my scientician's mind because, as a perfect scientist cliche, I only believe in physiological facts. I'm not a great believer in alternative therapies and natural medicine.

I googled SFD and found his credentials:

B. App. Sci (clinical sci.) B. Osteopathic Sci., M.H.Sci

But here's the kicker: his title is "Doctor".

Seriously. WHERE in his list of degress does it state that he did a medical or dental degree? Or a PhD? Since when do qualified osteopaths get to call themselves doctors??? This made me totally question the credibility of his practice. According to Google, there are a lot of osteopaths giving themselves "doctor" titles. This, to me, puts them in the same category as chiropractors, who also deem themselves fit to use the doctor title. As a person struggling to complete a PhD I find this absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. Not to mention INSULTING. Shall I rename myself Professor McSweeney Bumblepants? Or HRH Penelope Rocketsocks???

Now that I'm almost fully recovered I am hesitant to go back to pilates. Do I really want to spend $70-80 a pop on pseudo medicine? I'm inclined to stick with the tried-and-tested physiothearpy- my crutch for the past decade. Not a cure, but better than being in pain.

If you have experience with pilates I would dearly love to hear about it.

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