An Instructor’s Journey

We all come to Pilates for different and personal reasons.  For some people, it’s to recover from an injury, some are looking for a life with less pain, some simply want flatter abs.  There are so many valid reasons to embark on this journey.  I thought for my post, I would share my own.

Back in the olden days, I was a touring drummer, a bartender and a part time server.  My arms, in particular, were in constant  use.  One night I was playing a concert where we had a special guest returning from France.  He wanted to make a grand appearance, so he had the band play as he waited outside for his triumphant return.  It was a difficult, fast beat, and we played…and played…and played.  By the time he entered and the song was in full swing, my arm was swelling.  My shoulder seized up, my neck was killing me and I was practically in tears.  Years of poor technique were rushing in around me like a torrent and threatening to drown me in excruciating pain.  A nightmare!  

After that night I could no longer comfortably close the car door, let alone use the stick shift.  I was out of commission.  To make matters worse, I knew I had a tour coming up in the not too distant future and more on the horizon.  Would this be the end of my musical career?  I was desperate to try anything, so upon some friends’ advice, I went and saw a Rolfer.  This woman turned me to taffy in only 6 sessions and reset everything.  She worked with me on the ergonomics of drumming and I set out immediately to switch my set up:  lower the drums, raise my throne (we drummers call our chairs, our thrones…an attempt to feel more regal and important?), and move everything within easy arms’ reach.  I was ecstatic!  Forever grateful!  I was ready to pledge my first born! (ok, not really,  but you get the point).  

My ebullience was marginally tempered by her sobering warning:  if I don’t do some form of strengthening, I would end up in the exact same horrible, painful place.  She then gave me the number of a woman who would change my world forever:  my Pilates guru Dempsey Dybdahl.  Dempsey had her STOTT Pilates certification, and began immediately building me some shoulders.  After a first session where I felt better than when I had walked in, I committed to coming back later that week.  I began seeing her twice a week for the next several years.  Once a week, she explained, was just maintenance, twice would help me see actual progress.  And I did.  I fell in love with the way my body started to feel!  I went on tours and did the 100 in my hotel room.  I brought flex bands with me throughout Europe and did leg circles and half rollbacks.  My life changed!  I was suddenly so much stronger, and I could drum forever without pain.  And what were those lines starting to form on either side of my belly?  Obliques?!  I began spreading the word to all who would listen:  you can live a life of less pain!  You can feel stronger than ever!  The best is yet to come!  

When I decided that being a touring musician was no longer my path in life, I decided to go to law school.  I was taking the Kaplan LSAT course and began feeling neck and back pain within a few weeks.  I was studying like crazy and learning all of these exciting new things;  but I was feeling much worse in my body.  I began picturing the future:  late night snacking, dense books to slog through, all nighters…and my spirit began to deflate.  I was walking/running around Greenlake when it hit me:  I should get certified in Pilates!  I should truly spread this discipline I love so much to all those who want to feel better!  I had a new mission.  It took a few years to get through all of the schooling and practical hours, but I did it.  I then began teaching 32 hours a week for a few years.  Eventually I had a beautiful (and whacky) little girl and decided I wanted to work in an environment that was as healing and positive as Pilates itself.  And so I’ve landed here, at Bria.  I love it here.  I love Pilates.  I love our members.  I think it’s safe to say, Pilates truly made my life a better place to be!  I still drum without pain.  I still practice Pilates.  I hope over the course of time, some of you will share your stories with me.

Thanks for reading!  


Faith Stankevich