Pilates Instructor Helps Cheerleaders
by Michelle Kodis
Apr 14, 2011 | 1837 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RIDGWAY – I started Pilates four years ago as part of rehabilitating a long-term shoulder/upper back injury that was primarily caused by 20 years as a professional writer, a career that required me to sit in front of a computer for many hours each day. Simultaneously, I did too much over-stretching via yoga, and any weight-lifting I added to my routine only emphasized the development of the more superficial muscles of movement rather than the deeper, intrinsic muscles of true core strength. Pilates took me from severe, sometimes debilitating pain to a place of fitness, health and strength I had not found in any other kind of fitness regimen.

Thus, two years ago I began training to become a Pilates teacher. Having been a high school cheerleader myself, I understood from personal experience the extreme pressure the body can take from the jumps and the necessity to stand for long periods of time. My goal with the Ridgway cheerleading team was to teach them to find and develop their core strength, and then use that strength to land with a sense of lightness on jumps, to stand in a position that would remove pressure from the spine, and to learn to use their upper back musculature properly to maintain good posture.

I am amazed at how quickly the girls learned the key concepts, and their enthusiasm for Pilates has truly been heart-warming. Darin Fletcher, founder and owner of Integrative Movement Center in Ridgway, has been committed from day one to forming alliances with the local schools in order to teach young people proper body mechanics so that they can avoid the high risk of future chronic pain caused by compensatory movement patterns that many adults in our society experience on a daily basis, simply due to lack of knowledge about how best to use and move their bodies.

Darin and I plan to continue to work with the schools, teaching youth the techniques for life-long health and vitality. All high school kids are welcome to attend our classes for free; upon graduation, we will give them the same discount we offer to all public school teachers. Working with the cheerleaders has definitely been one of the highlights of my Pilates career!

Kodis has lived in Ridgway for the last four years, coaching the Ridgway High School Varsity Cheerleaders for three years, after teaching and coaching in Arizona for four years. A onetime high school cheerleader, she says, "because of the lack of body knowledge I had, I damaged and injured my body repetitively during cheerleading because of the high impact of the sport. Having this background, and knowing of these resources in our community, I have tried to provide my squad with tools, knowledge and awareness of their own bodies so that they can remain injury free."

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