Julie Christensen - Personal Trainer
Pilates has been an instrumental part of my life: facilitating general health & wellness, the mind-body-spirit connection, and more specifically, recovery and healing from a traumatic motorcycle accident.
Simply put, I love Pilates! I’ve been practicing for close to a decade now, and I can say its truly the greatest, most transformative gift of my entire life. Through my passion, personal practice, and love for Pilates, I’m inspired to assist others in living as comfortably as possible in their bodies. Through mindfulness, physical awareness, effective breathing, and consistent, continual practice of these vital ingredients Pilates is a powerful yet simple tool for living a full, healthy, and inspired life.
My Personal Story
My love for Pilates began in the tiny, rural town of Ennis, Montana where I was off handedly invited to attend a noon mat class. I had heard of Pilates but really had no idea what journey I was about to embark upon. I was out of shape, disconnected from my body, had little self confidence, and basically just wanted to blend into the woodwork, with very little desire to be noticed by the world or anyone else, including my husband for that matter. I almost talked myself out of going; I remember I had to borrow my friend’s workout clothes because I lived too far away to get home and back before class. When I arrived, I meekly chose a mat in the back of the room. As the class progressed I questioned why I had accepted such a silly invitation. I recall asking myself, ‘Why in hell are you here, Julie?’ I felt clumsy while attempting these crazy exercises and doubted my abilities while observing the “veterans” of the class who obviously knew what they were doing. However, something must have caught my attention because the next week I went back to the class…and the following week…and the next...and so on.
Before I knew it, I was a regular. I began to eliminate certain expenses so I could afford this new weekly activity. It had become a priority. I began to feel a difference. My spouse began to notice a difference. I was holding myself differently. My confidence began to grow. I began to expand into myself. I began to live into and through my body, but more importantly, I began to live into myself, wanting less and less to become one with the woodwork. I found my passion. Pilates gave me access to that passion.
After some time, I became driven to attend that weekly class; it was an obsession…because I knew it was good for me. I was finally learning that I needed to take care of myself before I could take care of anyone else. I had become completely worn down by the demanding pressures of my job, and I often literally ran out of the nursing home where I worked just to make it to Pilates class before someone asked something more of me. By getting in touch with my body and myself, my intuition improved immensely, and I realized if I attended this class regularly, I would not only have more to give to my clients and coworkers, but to everyone I cared about. Its a simple concept, but immensely profound if you’ve never really embraced the art of self care. I was finally learning some larger life lessons, and Pilates was, and still is, the catalyst that initiated that awakening.
Practicing Pilates routinely provides a sense and basis of strength I have never known before. Not only has my posture and the way I carry myself changed over time, but more importantly, my stance on life and the way I embrace the world around me. Pilates is not only a physical process, but a psychological one, if not spiritual. Of course, everyone has their own unique path, but we do all have bodies that can teach us a lot along the way. Self awareness is the key, and Pilates teaches one how to access that awareness, through steady incremental growth over time. Small but significant changes begin to happen when we become more aware and awake to ourselves and the world. I’ve learned that the more I live in my body with presence and intention, the more I embody my life with presence and intention. Simply said, Pilates charges my battery. I love how I feel physically, mentally, and spiritually after I have worked out on the mat, reformer, Cadillac, foot corrector or low chair.
My life, how I feel about myself and my body, and how I feel about those around me in this world has changed for the better thanks to randomly attending a noon Pilates mat class in little Ennis, Montana taught by the dynamic Master Pilates Instructor, Shauna Laszlo. I can’t thank her enough! Gratitude!
Then one day I had a thoroughly life changing event…
Pilates gave me the knowledge, drive, and motivation to overcome life threatening injuries due to a severe motorcycle accident I endured just months after I had earned my Level 1 certification as a Peak Pilates Instructor. I was on a motorcycle adventure road trip as a celebration of my accomplishment and a parting goodbye to dear friends before returning to my old stomping grounds of Oregon to pursue my dream of teaching Pilates.
On the date of August 15, 2014, I was thrown off the back of a Harley Davidson, in sunny Pennsylvania. On a winding strip of 1-80 we turned a blind curve and ran smack into another automobile accident. I was life flighted to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, PA where I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit over the weekend and a few days later I underwent extensive leg surgery. I ended up staying for nine days total. After a blood transfusion to assist my immune system I was discharged into the care of my parents for the long flight back home to Oregon, and the arduous attempt at recovery soon to unfold.
This accident definitely derailed me. It seemed my life was put on hold, and it seemed it might be permanent. The injuries were not only immensely painful, but would require much time and commitment to fully recover. Full recovery was not necessarily a given. I had sustained a traumatic head injury, numerous lacerations and broken bones, including a spiral fracture in my left femur that requires a metal rod, some hardware around my knee, and numerous bolts to hold everything together. Parting gifts from the hospital that will be part of me forever.
I left the medical center in a wheel chair and was sent home with a walker. I started Physical Therapy (PT) about a week after my return home. I went to PT for about four months. Over time, I graduated to a cane. Eventually, I got rid of the cane, as well. I still suffer with pain, but I’m active and can tie my own shoes, among other things. Actually, my life is very active. Honestly, its a miracle I’m alive, let alone teaching Pilates.
I believe that without Pilates I would not be living the full life I live today. Not only did it establish a solid foundation for my recovery, but it showed me the process necessary to recover. I absolutely believe the years of Pilates training prior to the accident established a strength and flexibility in my body that diminished the literal impact of the accident when it occurred. It also provided the conditioning to endure the pain and discomfort one inevitably experiences through months of grueling physical therapy. Believe me, there were days I thought I would never walk without a limp, that I may never dance again, have a lover, a job, or a life, let alone just shuffle to the toilet. It was the biggest challenge of my life. If not for Pilates I may not have had the mindset to keep working on myself. The truth is most people don't do their physical therapy, and pay the consequences of not caring for themselves. Through Pilates I had already learned the power of a systemized, daily commitment, which gave me the patience and vision to pursue my physical therapy with all of my being…and to love myself with all of my being.
There are truly not enough words to express my gratitude for what Pilates has given me. Thats because Pilates isn’t a word, its an action, its a lifestyle. You’ve got to do it, to get it.
That is why I do what I do. I instruct others in Pilates so I may share my gratitude for the gifts it has given me. I love sharing my love of this fabulous and effective movement and mindfulness modality so my clients can become the greatest versions of themselves.
I have a particular passion for meeting people in their bodies where they are. Having had my own unique challenges, I understand there is a lot to learn about walking in someone else’s shoes. I also have a definite passion for helping the elderly, who’ve done a lot of walking in their lifetime; thus my class titled ‘Pilates for Vintage Bodies’. My goal is just to keep everyone walking, even if its just baby steps.
A body in motion stays in motion.