Kathy Cassidy has moved her entire life. An athlete from a young age, she took up mixed martial arts in her 30s and competitive rowing in her 40s, while raising her daughter as a single mother with a high-responsibility career.
She had done yoga for years, but it never became a habit or hooked her the way other physical activities had. Then around the time Kathy turned 50, her general practitioner said something that scared her. “She said, ‘You know, your posture is getting a little round. You don’t want to be one of those women with a dowager’s hump,’ “ Kathy said. “When she said that, I freaked out! And she said I should think about Pilates.”
That planted the seed, and when Kathy saw a Pilates Defined ad in West Hartford Life five years ago, she called the studio. Since then Pilates has become such a part of Kathy’s life, she can’t imagine not doing it. “I don’t want to be one of those old ladies who sits all day,” Kathy said. “I mean, I’ve never done that, but with aches and pains from years of sports and injuries, I want to make sure everything keeps moving.”
After retiring in June, Kathy increased from three classes a week to four or five. She regularly takes reformer, chair, mat and the Saturday equipment challenge classes, and seeing progress keeps her coming back for more. Three years ago, she couldn’t do a pike on the chair, and now she can. Her improvement, and her dedication to Pilates, inspired us to have a conversation with her about how she grew to love the work.
What benefits have you noticed from doing Pilates? “I’m so much stronger! I tell people that, and they say, ‘Oh, but you’re an athlete. You rowed.’ But what Pilates is doing for me is helping me to become more balanced. It’s made me very conscious of both sides of my body.”
She has also seen improvement in her stability and balance. “I have always had the worst balance, and I still suck, but it’s definitely better,” she said.
What is your favorite exercise or piece of equipment, or both? “I have a love-hate relationship with the chair. I’m so challenged by a lot that we do on it. But I don’t want to diss the chair — I adore it. It kills me if I have to miss a Tuesday class.” For a feel-good exercise, Kathy loves short spine, and recently the version with one foot in the strap and one foot crossed over in a figure-4 stretch has helped open and release her hips.
What would you say to someone just starting Pilates? “Slow down! Be patient. That’s advice for myself as well. I watch when new people come in, and I know I did the same thing — you want to muscle through it. “When (the instructors) came back from the (Pilates Method Alliance) conference, Jessica did something in class that was just a little change, and I got such a workout! It reminds you of the subtleties. If you don’t slow down, you’re missing it all.”
Describe Pilates Defined in three words: Welcoming. Patient. Precision.