risa sheppard working with katherine wolf in pilates

My first Pilates session with Katherine Wolf was on February 10. I was excited to meet her! She arrived at my studio with her dear friend, Susan, who was visiting from their home town in Georgia. I was impressed with Katherine’s enthusiasm, positive energy, and excitement to start working with Pilates, and continuing her rehabilitation. She was open and responsive to do and try whatever I asked of her. She had tried Pilates only once, following her surgery in Casa Colina, the rehab facility where she and her husband, Jay, lived for more than a year. Unfortunately, Katherine remembered getting sick each time she had to move the position of her body. So that idea was quickly dropped!

I decided to start her at the barre, which she held onto as we went through the centering principle, corrected her posture and got her aligned. As Katherine’s right side was most affected by her stroke, her imbalance is acute. The difference between her right and left side is more apparent than most, but I know that as soon as we get the center, or core, stronger, that imbalance should improve. Since she (and I) have no hearing or balance nerve on our right side, I quickly learned to place myself in a strategic position for her greatest benefit and my best teaching skills! I explained the center to her, and she picked it up right away, feeling and enjoying the sense of control it gave her over her movements.
I then had her lie on the Cadillac, and I stretched her out and helped her relax. Katherine is naturally flexible, but we needed to stabilize her back and hips to help to elongate and align her lower body. Finally, I put her on the reformer. Again, because of her extremely weak right side, her right leg kept shaking, and it felt like it was coming off! As we brought her focus continually back to the center, the shaking decreased and her movement became more precise. We went through many of the beginning exercises on the reformer. Katherine was elated and tired at the same time. But we both finished the session with a feeling of pure joy, and looked forward to our next session.

To learn more about Katherine Wolf as we work together, visit her blog at www.hope-heals.com.


Risa Sheppard
The Sheppard Method Pilates Studios