How Pilates Saved My Life

Why I teach Pilates and how it Saved My Life…

Everybody has their own story as to why Pilates changed them, whether it be physically or emotionally. Until now, I always thought Pilates reformed me only physically by changing and improving how I looked on the outside. That is still true. But more importantly, my story is really about being set free from pain, suffering, and sadness. Prior to Pilates, I had been living a “life of a lie”. On the outside, it always looked like I had my shit together. Perfect body, perfectly groomed, beautiful children, a big beautiful house, a dream job as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, and everything else I needed to be happy. This illusion could not have been further from the truth.

“I started to believe it was my fault that my first born son was premature because I worked out during my pregnancy and that my second son is Autistic because I have bad genes.”

I was married to a man for 20 years that thought very little of me. So little of me that he thought it was OK to physically and emotionally abuse me. Every year that I stayed with him, I lost more and more of myself and my self-esteem. I started to believe him that it was my fault that our first son was premature because I worked out too much. I started to believe him that it was my fault our second son is Autistic because I have “bad genes”. Silently, I became less and less confident in my role as a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, an employee…and just a human being! I was drowning by criticism about my haircut, my body, my parenting, my housekeeping, my cooking…you name it, it wasn’t right …EVER!

“At my happiest moment, again…he lost his shit!”

When I was chosen to audition to be a fitness model for QVC, he lost his shit! Basically he told me I wasn’t allowed to do the audition and I almost didn’t go. He used the excuse that I couldn’t go because I wasn’t allowed to have anyone else watch our children while I was gone. Up until this point not a single person ever babysat for us, which meant we never left the house! Nevertheless, I persisted and went to the audition. To my surprise, I was hired to present Pilates on TV! At my happiest moment, again, he lost his shit! More manipulation came, he told me I could only take bookings when the kids were sleeping in the middle of the night so that I wasn’t “dumping” our kids on him or anyone else. I agreed at first but realized quickly that I wouldn’t get much work if I limited myself so much. I continued to live three separate lives…the one at home, the one at the gym where I worked, and my “Pilates life” on TV. My modeling work took off and I got more and more bookings and just dealt with the “penalties” as they came. The more my body started to change for the better from Pilates, the more I heard how ugly I was and how no one would ever want me. And yes…I started to believe it more and more every day. I loved how I looked, but I wasn’t sure if I was seeing something that wasn’t really there, based on what he was saying.

“I was referred to as “slave” by him in front of my children.”

The good news is, the more I did Pilates, the more “chances” I took with standing up for myself when he would pick up a meal and throw it in the trash while he referred to me as “the slave” to my children. The more Pilates I did, the more “risks” I would take to fight back instead of just cowering and crying. The more I did Pilates, the harder I prayed for “a sign”. I am not a quitter, I do not give up easily. I took marriage vows seriously. I prayed for God to make him love me more or just even like me more! I prayed everyday that he would come home happy instead of angry about something I did or didn’t do. Pilates catapulted me into start understanding what my purpose was in this life. Of course I was a mother and that meant the world to me, but I knew my kids would be leaving me at some point, so they didn’t “define me”. I wanted to leave something bigger to the world. The more I did Pilates, the more I found the courage to at least think about wanting to make a change. Pilates is hard…it’s really hard! I felt good about doing something really hard. But I felt bad about not doing something about the other hard thing I was faced with every day…unhappiness. I got more and more brave and tolerated less and less from him. I prayed for my boys because this relationship would be the image of marriage that they would forever be left with.

“You never were anything and never will be. You are nothing.”

Everybody who has ever ended an abusive relationship will tell you that there was that “one thing”. That “one thing” that clicked or flipped them to make them know it was time to go. For me it was when he said to me “You never were anything and you never will be. You are nothing”. That simmered in my head for only a few days. I looked around at everything I was doing and everything I had accomplished while being ridiculed, criticized, and made fun of by someone who was supposed to love me…and then it happened. The switch flipped. I really did say out loud “Fuck this, I’m done”!, and called the police while his hand was clutched around my throat. I had a police escort me out of the house with wet hair, only carrying my purse, on December 26th never to return.

So why do I teach Pilates? Because it made me the Badass that I am today. It was the “thing” that led me to reform my freedom. It was the “thing” that enabled me to escape 20+ years of believing I was no good and I didn’t matter. It was the “thing” that led me to happiness. It was the “thing” that led me to my wonderful husband Bob who has been my biggest fan in every aspect of my career and personal development. And because of his belief in me I was able to be the “leader” he saw in me to become a business owner.

I am a Badass Pilates Teacher today not because it changed my body, but because it changed my mind about who I wanted to be to the world…worthy, proud, loving, compassionate, and brave! It changed my life and I am here to support you to change your life, your body, and to become whatever you want to be. Come and visit us at our Badass Pilates in FIDI and join our events or to take a class. My goal is to make it life changing for you too. Pilates continues to keep me alive by giving me faith that the my estranged first born son will one day realize I did what I had to do to survive…and he will come find me. On my darkest days when the pain of missing him for over 10 years, I rely on Pilates to bring me light. I am a Badass Pilates Teacher not because I am mean and nasty, but because Pilates took me on a journey to pursue empowering others to find the Badass in themselves. The rockin’ Pilates body is a bonus! My relocation to New York was for my loving husband to be able to continue his work with the non-profit organization IAVI, as he finds a cure for AIDS in our world. I forgot to mention he does Pilates too and is also a Badass!

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  • Jean Buskirk
    Reply

    Deb …. wow I am speechless. Your story is sad yet amazing at the same time. You are bad ass and I have always seen you that way. I am so happy that you were able to find the strength to move forward in life and find the path you were meant to be on. If I ever make it up to NYC I will be sure to stop by the studio to say hi and maybe try my first Pilates class.

  • Karyn Kelly
    Reply

    Deb – I’m glad you found your happiness and I’m very sorry to read what you went through. Good luck in NYC. ~Karyn

  • Nicole Rousseau
    Reply

    Badass!!

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