by Amy Butler
I had the pleasure of working with one of my client's mothers while she was in Nashville visiting for the winter. Let me tell you, Nancy is the kind of person I want to be when I reach my mid-eighties. Her eyes are bright and focused, her intellect is stunning, and she carries herself with an admirable balance of grace and sturdiness. At 86, she knows who she is and has an amazing bank of stories from a full life, but what I admire most about Nancy is her openness to continue learning about herself. Just when we think we've figured it all out, we encounter a new perspective or are given a new nugget of information, and Nancy reminded me to embrace those moments of growth and learning. After returning home from her stay in Nashville, Nancy mailed me this lovely piece she'd written about her journey to Pilates. I'm thankful that Nancy offered to share a bit of her story with us, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
“Any metal?” is the inevitable question the TSA people ask me and all the other gray-haired
people as we reach the scanners. “Both hips,” is my inevitable answer. Two hip replacements not
only won me metal body parts but the unanticipated benefit of learning first in my sixties and
now in my mid-eighties a great deal about how to keep this human machine running.
That part of the story begins first with the physical therapy that hip replacement patients face as
soon as the anesthesia wears off. Crutches and a healing incision on my left side were not a
deterrent to a process I saw immediately not only hastened the healing of my body but my mind
as well. Conservative as those first exercises were, they served to reassure me about my future
mobility, and they became the building blocks of a daily exercise regimen I could follow at home
and have now for several years.
Then about three years ago, the arthritis in my knees worsened. After examining the x-rays, the
orthopedist put it succinctly: “Severe arthritis. Knee replacements or PT.” Although officially
retired from the University, I was teaching one course a year, and it was due to start within the
week, so PT it was. The physical therapist didn’t blink when she heard my story, worked with
me for the requisite six weeks my insurance allowed and gave me a series of exercises to do
daily at home. For three years, I have followed this regimen daily, and my knees are holding.
I’m aware they’re not “cured,” but except for the occasional twinge, they’re continuing to work.
I came late to Pilates, even though the physical therapists had recommended it as a supplement to the daily exercises I was already doing. When my daughter, a fan of Pilates, bought me a gift
session with Amy at Nashville Pilates Company, I thought it would be redundant. Absolutely
not. It has opened a new page in this narrative not just about my body but about life itself, not
just because of the exercises, but also as a consequence of Amy’s excellent accompanying
explanations. Again, this is not just about our bodies as separate from our minds, but about the
wholeness of this, about the muscles we didn’t know we had and the unexplored places in our
minds. Although I’m in my mid-eighties, I think I know now what a new lease on life really
For all of us, let this be a reminder and inspiration to continue to learn, explore, nurture the body and mind, try new things, and LIVE.