Pilates Teachers' Manual

Meet the Teacher - Sabrae Garrett

October 22, 2020 Olivia Bioni, Sabrae Garrett Season 3 Episode 7
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Meet the Teacher - Sabrae Garrett
Chapters
0:00
Welcome
1:48
First Pilates Experience
3:40
Becoming a Teacher and Its Challenges
13:58
Advice for Aspiring Teachers
18:36
Building Community
25:46
Pilates and Breast Cancer
Pilates Teachers' Manual
Meet the Teacher - Sabrae Garrett
Oct 22, 2020 Season 3 Episode 7
Olivia Bioni, Sabrae Garrett

Listen in on my conversation with Sabrae Garrett! We talk about everything from her first experience with Pilates to choosing the best teacher training program to surviving breast cancer and healing with Pilates. Tune in!   

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM

Email [email protected] with your feedback.

Show Notes:   

Sabrae is a Balanced Body trained and Nationally Certified Pilates teacher, a loving wife and mom, a breast cancer survivor, and private session teaching powerhouse. You can find her at Club Pilates West Loop in Chicago *https://www.clubpilates.com/location/westloop*, where she loves sharing the power of Pilates with her students.  Check out the website to join her workshop to support Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center in Chicago! 

Support the podcast:    

Visit https://links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to take advantage of some sweet savings! 

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Tobu - Good Times [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/YHSH9k9ooZY
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/goodtimes

Track: Tobu & Itro - Sunburst [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/4lXBHD5C8do

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Listen in on my conversation with Sabrae Garrett! We talk about everything from her first experience with Pilates to choosing the best teacher training program to surviving breast cancer and healing with Pilates. Tune in!   

I want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and follow the podcast on Instagram and Facebook @pilatesteachersmanual. Full show notes, episode transcription, and chapter markers can be found on the podcast website here: http://bit.ly/pilatesteachersmanual. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast for updates, and rate and review wherever you listen!  Episodes now available on YouTube: *https://bit.ly/YouTubePTM

Email [email protected] with your feedback.

Show Notes:   

Sabrae is a Balanced Body trained and Nationally Certified Pilates teacher, a loving wife and mom, a breast cancer survivor, and private session teaching powerhouse. You can find her at Club Pilates West Loop in Chicago *https://www.clubpilates.com/location/westloop*, where she loves sharing the power of Pilates with her students.  Check out the website to join her workshop to support Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center in Chicago! 

Support the podcast:    

Visit https://links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to take advantage of some sweet savings! 

Episode Music: 

This episode uses NCS music in compliance with https://ncs.io/usage-policy

Track: Tobu - Good Times [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/YHSH9k9ooZY
Free Download / Stream: http://ncs.io/goodtimes

Track: Tobu & Itro - Sunburst [NCS Release]
Music provided by NoCopyrightSounds.
Watch: https://youtu.be/4lXBHD5C8do

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/oliviapodcasts)

[00:00:00] Olivia: [00:00:00] Welcome to Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates teacher. I'm Olivia, and I'll be your host. Join the conversation and the Pilates community on Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual and visit buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. Today's chapter starts now.

Hello, hello everybody. Welcome back to the [00:01:00] podcast. I'm really excited to share a. Conversation with you today, between myself and my good friend and colleague Sabrae Garrett. She is a phenomenal, balanced body trained Pilates instructor. She's a nationally certified Pilates teacher. She's a loving wife and mom, a breast cancer survivor, and she teaches with me at Club Pilates West Loop in Chicago.

We'll be discussing her path to becoming a teacher, her experience with breast cancer and so much more. Let's dive in. 

Thank you so much for joining me today. Sabrae. Happy to have you on the show. 

Sabrae: [00:01:38] So happy to be here with you. 

Olivia: [00:01:40] I don't know all the things about your Pilates journey, so I'd love to hear what was your first experience with Pilates?

Sabrae: [00:01:48] My first experience with Pilates was in Colorado in 2012. And I had a friend, a couple of friends actually, who were very dedicated to Pilates, believed in it. One of the friend's husband is a [00:02:00] doctor and he very much wanted her to take Pilates. And at that point they had two children, ultimately ended up having four children. And it's really what made me pay attention because she said, you know, doing Pilates through each of her pregnancies really helped her to feel good and sort of snap back if you will, afterwards. 

My other friend who was an adamant runner at the time, ran so much that she got shin splints, terrible shin splints, training for a half marathon. And so she couldn't run. And at that point she was really like, begging me, like, I want a friend with me in Pilates, please come with. So I finally conceded because I just thought paying $25 for something like that seemed extravagant at the time when I had a gym membership, but I told her I would go try.

So I did. The first session, okay, but I kind of liked the idea of it. But by about the third or fourth session, I realized it was a really smart system. So I continued doing Pilates. I was having a little bit of neck and back pain at that point [00:03:00] from running and lifting weights all the time. And so it helped me to alleviate some of that.

I will I'll say, I like everybody, I had no idea that Pilates was named after a person. So it was interesting. My journey has been very full of lots of education about everything that is Pilates. And it really taught me a lot about my own body. And again, I fell in love with it and I realized it was something I wanted to continue doing.

And I did, and I moved from Colorado to Kansas and found a new Pilates teacher, and then I ultimately found a different studio. And so that was my first experience and it's continued from there.

Olivia: [00:03:35] So what inspired you to take the leap from being a student who loved Pilates to a teacher that loves Pilates. 

Sabrae: [00:03:42] Well, I like to say that pain is the greatest motivator of all. And I had chronic neck and back pain. Once I moved to Kansas, it just got worse. It wasn't like the pain was getting better. I went to see a physician and they took x-rays and realized that I [00:04:00] actually have arthritis in my neck. 

I'm a very adventurous person and had injured myself in a variety of ways, starting as a young girl who broke her arm twice in the sixth and seventh grade, and then just progressed from there. Lots and lots of crashes in my life. Car crashes, water-skiing crashes, skiing crashes, lots of crashes. 

So anyway, I was in this chronic pain, to the point where I was taking some form of, you know, ibuprofen or Tylenol or something like that every day, a couple of times a day. And I thought this is ridiculous. Like, I'm 42 years old, this shouldn't be a thing. 

Recognizing then at that point that I had arthritis in that all the years of going to chiropractors didn't really make anything better. They wanted to talk to me about doing surgery. And I said, I'm absolutely not doing surgery. You know, it's arthritis. It's not like something that's super bad. They said, okay, well, let's see for physical therapy. Sure. That sounds great. Let's start there. 

I go to physical therapy and I've gone maybe to [00:05:00] two or three sessions, and I start to see the similarities between physical therapy and Pilates. And I start to realize, obviously there's a root cause of the pain, but then there's the exacerbation of the pain. And quite frankly, I realized that in my Pilates classes, I was doing things I should not have been doing. I did not have the right amount of abdominal and core strength to do some of the moves I was doing. 

Where I kind of had the a-ha moment was once I was sort of through physical therapy and started applying some of those ideas into my Pilates classes. I started thinking, I think I could do this. I think I could teach this. I think I could help other people like me who are having chronic pain at an early age, from poor choices of exercise, often, not always- again, mine was also because of being such an adventurous person- but I realized that it would be a good thing, not just for myself, but give [00:06:00] me that thing that I love, which is to help other people. And I could do both. 

On top of that at the time my daughter was, I guess she was in sixth grade. So at that age where she wasn't needing me as much, so it would also give me purpose beyond being a mom. Timing wise, it was really great. What I had no idea of was the journey to becoming a teacher was going to be very challenging. I had no idea about a lot of things. 

Olivia: [00:06:25] So what were some of the challenges that you faced in your teacher training? 

Sabrae: [00:06:31] So I decided that I wanted to become an instructor and spoke to several people about that to try to understand what the process was. Where I was living at the time, those teachers were teaching classes after going through the three weekends that you would go through and then testing out no anatomy classes, which then made sense as to why I was doing things in class classes that maybe weren't helping my neck.

That being said, [00:07:00] I proceeded through. The first three days, I didn't have the ability to a memorize the amount of information. So challenge number one, I had not been in school in a very long time. I realized that weekend. I was like, you know, this is like so much information. How am I ever going to process this in a way that, for me personally, is going to make me feel confident to teach this method of exercise. Like, how am I going to do that? 

So I started really studying the information that I had and there was a soft touch on anatomy. And just that. It was like, how many vertebrae and what times of day am I supposed to remember? How am I ever going to remember all of this? So that was the first challenge.

 And then I did make it through my reformer training. As I was going through the studying to test out, my husband got promoted. My priorities changed a little bit because then I realized, well, we're going to be moving and soon. Like we were going to be moving in the [00:08:00] next couple of months. So I had to put that on hold. So challenge number two, putting something that you're excited about and you're moving forward with, and you've been kind of into it for nine ish months or so, and then you have to put it on hold. And it was a choice and it was a good choice at the time.

So we ended up moving to Bethesda, Maryland. Challenge number three, I have a little bit of training and a little bit of knowledge, thinking I wouldn't have to test out. Maybe I could just find a job. I could test out eventually, but maybe it was somebody would hire me to teach classes because that's how I had been where it was. Wouldn't it be like that where I was going? No, no, it was not like that. 

So once I got there challenge number four, how am I going to progress my training so that somebody will hire me? Could not find anyone who would do like an apprenticeship, nothing. Ultimately was connected with someone because she was offering a mentor program, which was, you know, for [00:09:00] anybody. If you want to be a Pilates teacher, you know, you're going through with the journey or you're already a Pilates teacher, it gave you the ability to define what type of teacher you wanted to be. It gave you the ability to understand the history of Pilates. 

A requirement was to buy the contrology book. Okay, this sister didn't even know there was a book. I didn't know there was a man. I didn't know there was a book. And on top of those two things, I also had never taken mat Pilates. I didn't even know that's where it started.

So here I am trying to become a teacher, but I really didn't have the foundation that I really needed, particularly for my personality. I didn't have the "why" Pilates is so great foundational building block. So going through that mentor program, I discovered a lot about myself. I discovered that I wanted to become comprehensively trained, which meant that I was going to have to take kind of a step back. 

Just going through the mentor program for me was sort of like, let's take this step back. Let's see if we can figure some stuff [00:10:00] out and then we're going to move forward. I finally, you know, made this commitment. Okay, I'm going to become comprehensively trained. I'm going to take the Stott reformer training, I'm going to bridge it over into Balanced Body. And then I'm gonna go back and take the mat and then go so forward.

So I started doing that. And in that part of this journey, the person who was running the mentor program is a Balanced Body master trainer. And she offered me an apprenticeship, only because I had tried to find someone or a studio or a gym, someplace where I could continue going through my certification and classes and be able to practice, and practice teach, and observe, and do all of these things.

And as it turned out, people wanted me to sign these non-competes. And I just, first off, didn't like that idea. So you're going to restrict me. I am now restricted to this one place. So I'm going to have to rely on this one place to get all these hours of [00:11:00] observation and all these teacher training hours. And a couple of the gyms they would bring me in, they would restrict me from anywhere else and not pay me, mind you, if I'm practice teaching. It wasn't all jiving. The universe was telling me there's something better than this. There's something better than this. 

And meanwhile, my mentor is helping me to navigate through all of this. And she makes me an offer basically that I can't refuse that she would love to bring me in as an apprentice. There was a handful of thing she wanted me to do and commit to, and there was a handful of things I wanted her to commit to. We were able to come to an agreement. And I ultimately ended up choosing this path, which was challenging. What does this challenge number five or six? The challenge was I had to drive from Bethesda, Maryland to Columbia, Maryland twice a week, which was about an hour drive each way, in order to gain all of the stuff that I wanted. 

That being said, I was moving forward and you know, the [00:12:00] classes were hard. And I went through all of the comprehensive training. I took anatomy twice because I just didn't feel solid in my knowledge base, you know, and I realized I was not Pilates strong #PilatesStrong. I'm going through this class and I'm like, I'm not strong. I cannot do these exercises. And I needed to be humbled to break down some of the ego barriers that were really holding me back from moving forward into a place of helping people at a level that would resonate from an authentic place within myself. I had to heal myself physically, mentally, and then really absorb this knowledge that is Pilates.

When that little spark of an idea, "I'm going to be a Pilates teacher." I had no idea the amount of time, energy, effort that I was going to put into that in order to [00:13:00] become the type of teacher that I wanted to be. And that's where the mentor program was really super helpful. I also went through that twice just to make sure.

Cause once I commit to something like I'm all in. I pushed all my chips in and said, okay, we're going to do this. We're going to do this really well. And when I'm done doing this and I take my certification test, I'm going to pass. There's no second chance. No. I'm going to pass the first time and then I'm going to go take my, well, what was the PMA certification. I did that within four months of passing the Balanced Body certification. As I said to my husband when I had this idea, and then we'll have this certification that no one can take away from me. And I can take this with me when you get promoted again. Woo.

Olivia: [00:13:46] So with that really incredible teacher training experience and really winding path to get from where you were to where you wanted to go, what advice do you have for people who might be looking for teacher training programs? 

[00:14:00] Sabrae: [00:14:00] I guess if I could give some advice, the thing that I did that was smart was not accept less than what I needed personally. Like I know the learning style for myself. There's a lot of schools of Pilates and all of those schools of Pilates are going to be similar, but I would dig down into: how do they present the information, who's presenting the information? You know, are you learning from somebody who's doing it for a long time, is going to be able to not just teach you this information that's sitting in the book that you could totally read, but will you be able to get out of it the intricacies of Pilates? Will they give you more? 

I wanted more. I wanted an experienced teacher. I wanted somebody who knew what they were doing. I wanted to be able to ask why and get an actual answer. Not the, well, it says here in the book. So my advice would be understand yourself a little bit before you choose a school and then ask questions. 

[00:15:00] Okay, so great. I'm going to go through this school of Pilates. I mean, if you were going to college, you would want to know if the professors were worth anything, right? Who are these professors? What are they trying to teach me? Pilates is very similar. It's not like a weekend warrior training, but it's a lot of information. 

I wanted an excellent education. I didn't want an okay education. I didn't want a good education. I wanted an excellent, outstanding education that was going to allow me to come out of the gate quickly, highly qualified, so that when I would meet people and, or want to go teach somewhere, there was no doubt left in that person's mind in an interview that I didn't know what I was doing. 

I was going with the premise of, I may not be an experienced teacher, but I have learned from the best, I have supplemented my education with these mentor programs. I know who I am. I know the type of classes I can teach and I understand anatomy better than most people. Because I found that for me as a [00:16:00] teacher, that was super important to me. 

Olivia: [00:16:02] That's really important when you're looking for a teacher training program, because like you said, it's not something you're going to do in two weekends. It can take six months, a year, a year and a half. It can really be a huge commitment. And then you're going to do something with that for maybe the rest of your life. So you really do want to put the time in when you're just setting out so that you have a nice path going forward. 

Sabrae: [00:16:24] Tagging onto that idea, I also think there should be some structure to the training. I've known people who've gone through training- I don't knock anybody, whatever their path is, is their path. Because sometimes, maybe that chair training is available before you have the chance to do, you know, whatever else it is. 

But personally, I would advise every single person who's got this idea. Hey, I might want to be a teacher. Go get the contrology book. Read that book first. Go take mat training first, and do it in building blocks. Right? So that things make sense. Because it all [00:17:00] started from the mat. And then there was the reformer. It's all a building block type of exercise system. And if you look at it like that- this is my personal opinion. I would have been able to absorb the information a little bit easier in the reformer classes had I already done the mat classes. 

And even beyond that again, had I even known that Pilates was a man and there was a book, but I didn't. And so I try to tell people all the time just Pilates was a real person and he was brilliant. He was way ahead of his time. And by the way, do we love Caged Lion or what? 

Olivia: [00:17:40] Such a trip. 

Sabrae: [00:17:41] I mean, great book, also great supplement to, you know, if you're thinking about being a Pilates teacher, it's also not an inexpensive journey. So buying a couple of books doesn't cost that much. 

Olivia: [00:17:53] No, that does give you a better picture of what you're jumping into with all of your money and all of your time. For sure. 

[00:18:00] Another thing that I think is pretty unique to your experience that I'd love to let you speak on is because of your husband's work, you moved a lot and you have experience in lots of Pilates studios and with lots of Pilates teachers and students and different places. One thing that I absolutely love about you, and I'm constantly impressed about you, is that you build this Pilates community everywhere you go.

You're so good at meeting people and also teaching people and just getting people who need Pilates into the Pilates studio. And so I was wondering if you can talk about that a bit as well. 

Sabrae: [00:18:37] You are correct. My husband has had a very successful career, thankfully, and it has given us the ability to literally move around the country. Relative to Pilates, I mentioned that I started my education in Kansas. I completed it in Maryland. Then ultimately he got promoted again, and we made our way to Chicago, which has been a fabulous [00:19:00] experience so far, 

I guess, really fundamentally, not a shock to anyone who knows me, I am like an extroverted extrovert. I have never met a stranger. So even, you know, just forever and ever, I can talk to anybody, anywhere, about anything. I'm a pretty much an open book. I don't pretend to be something I'm not. And I think that authenticity comes through with anyone that I speak to. 

So if I'm meeting somebody for the first time, I mean, what do you normally ask people that you just met? Hey, how are you? You know, what do you do? Where do you live? Those types of questions just automatically are part of that conversation. I'm very passionate about Pilates. I mean, it helped me out of pain personally. One of my very first clients ever in Maryland was someone who had come to the place because of pain. And she was just the sweetest woman ever with the most awful head forward posture you've ever seen. 

And she had a multitude of [00:20:00] issues, which I was a little nervous initially. I met her connected with her, wanted to help her. And that turned out to be one of the most gratifying choices I made because someone who's in pain wants to be out of pain. So when I ultimately meet new people, People don't always share, right, that they're in pain. You meet somebody for the first time or the second time or whatever. It's not like they're coming to you and going, Man my freaking neck hurts all the time. Oh my God, my back. Oh, I'm having shooting pain. Sometimes my toes go numb. Right? Not information they're going to share. 

But when you tell people that you're a Pilates instructor, there's enough of an awareness of what Pilates is that people will tend to share that information. Basically, if you are in pain and you meet somebody that says, Hey, man, I'm not a doctor, but I do this Pilates training. And I have found, by my experience, we could probably get you out of pain. You may need to supplement that with other [00:21:00] visits. Maybe you need PT. Maybe you need to go to, you know, an osteopathic doctor. Maybe you do need surgery, but what if we move forward with the idea that- 

As an example, one of my clients I met in Maryland had a herniated disc. He'd had surgery 20 years prior. And during this first interaction with him, I'm saying these things to him. Hey, what if? I know you're scheduled for surgery in three months, but what if we start doing Pilates and what if we work on the things that your body needs to get better? 

And what if you go in for your surgery consultation and what if your disc isn't as herniated? I mean, what if? What do you have to lose, right? You're scheduled for surgery anyway. Perhaps, you know, we'll do enough Pilates, you commit to it. And at the very worst it's prehab. 

And so when we talk about meeting people for the first time and building community, all community is, is a series of interwoven relationships. So learning how [00:22:00] to meet somebody and basically start a foundation of trust and then trying to, session by session, show them that you are helping them feel better. 

And then that person, my herniated disc client told, I don't even know how many people. At the time I was working in at congressional country club. So it was a club full of golfers. And he missed golfing so much. At the point, where he went to his surgery consultation and they said he didn't have to have surgery. How many people did he tell? I mean, right? He's like this woman is amazing. Like I didn't have to go so myself, because I had already shown through my experience with this man that you can find your way out of pain with Pilates.

Now not every single person, not every single time. That being said, pain is the grand motivator. And if you meet someone and they have that pain and you can build that relationship [00:23:00] session by session with trust and respect, they're going to tell everybody. That's where the community part comes from. 

Now, beyond that, personally, I like to have a lot of fun. And so always wherever I live, I try to find like a group of people that want to go have fun too. And sometimes those fun people turn into my clients as well. Not because they're necessarily in pain. However, I will say sometimes I know somebody for a couple years and then, you know, they share with me that they actually do have pain and now they want to come do Pilates. That's something that, they're already in my community. And so they feel confident to come and do Pilates with me. 

It's a very gratifying thing that I do. I never really anticipated again, when I had that spark of an idea, Hey, I'm going to be a Pilates teacher, that I would feel so much gratitude towards the people that I'm helping and watching them get better and feel better and move better. 

It's so gratifying. I can't explain it. I can't [00:24:00] explain how much helping someone else helps me feel like I have a very definite purpose in the world beyond being a wife and a mom. And to me, this isn't a job. I wouldn't even know if I would call it a career necessarily. It's just my thing. It's what I should be doing with my time to serve the world in the way that is special to me and unique to me.

Olivia: [00:24:25] Hi there. I hope you're enjoying today's chapter so far. There's great stuff coming up after the break, to be sure to subscribe wherever you're listening and visit, buymeacoffee.com/OliviaPodcasts to support the show. 

There you can make a one-time donation or become a member for as little as $5 a month. Membership comes with some awesome perks, including a shout out in the next episode, a monthly newsletter, a monthly zoom call with me and more. You can also visit [00:25:00] links.oliviabioni.com/affiliates to check out some sweet deals on products I use and love. Now back to the show.

Because your first experience with Pilates, you know, that you were in pain and then Pilates helps you get out of pain, and then you had breast cancer. 

Sabrae: [00:25:34] Good times. 

Olivia: [00:25:35] Not at all. I don't think. 

Sabrae: [00:25:37] Not so much. 

Olivia: [00:25:38] So, can you speak a little bit about how Pilates fit into your recovery and your journey with breast cancer?

Sabrae: [00:25:47] Obviously, it was a very big surprise. I have no breast cancer history. I have no breast cancer in my family. None of my immediately close, not in my mom, not her [00:26:00] mom. I did have all the tests to see if it was something that was in my genes. It is not, which makes me very thankful, you know? So it's not something I have to worry that I'm passing on to my beautiful daughter.

I will say that I'm glad that I was strong going into it. Even before I say that, I should say what I'm really happy about is that I've been listening to my doctors since I was 40 and I've had a mammogram every year. So it was my routine mammogram where something was seen. So it was caught incredibly early. I mean, to the point where I couldn't palpate the cancer. I couldn't have felt it even doing a self breast exam. 

In that vein, I want to make sure everybody hears me. Go get your boobies mammogramed, ladies. It's really important, and it saved my life. 

When they found it, I was stage one and it was operable and it had not spread to my lymph nodes, thankfully, which was just the biggest blessing. And it's been a year since I had that surgery where I had the lumpectomy and had the lymph nodes removed, but I've begun in the last few months, starting to feel some like [00:27:00] nerves reconnecting in the space where they took out the lymph nodes, which is actually was much more painful than the actual lumpectomy space.

So that surgery was in October. After surgery, you know, I had my pain pills for a couple of days and you have to make sure that the surgical sites have to be stable and you don't really want to move your arm around too much. And so I'm sitting on the couch and you know, I'm a Pilates teacher and I have some strong abs, right. 

So I'm not pushing myself off the couch. Like, I'm using my abs to like pull me up to a seated position. Well, after a couple of days of that, my abs were really sore, which did make me start to think, huh, I'm going to have many people push themselves off the couch. Probably everybody. Right. Should everybody use their abs? Probably. So, anyway, that was kind of funny to me. 

But I mean, within, I think I was back in the studio teaching after a week. And, you know, we all have like a fit ball or whatever version of the ball that, you know, small ball in our studios. So [00:28:00] basically put the ball under my arm and kept it elevated and kept on teaching.

And to be honest, because again, I'm such an extroverted person being in the studio with people. It gives me energy, positive energy. It's a positive environment. It was something that I could be around people. And beyond that, I felt very supported. I didn't hide the fact that I had breast cancer. I'm just not that person. And I wanted people to know it can happen to anybody. Again, beating that mantra drum of get your mammogram, ladies. 

I certainly didn't want anybody to see me as a victim, and I definitely wanted that positive energy and I wanted people to see it happens to everybody. Cancer is no joke, but because I am Pilates strong, you know, I do believe that helped me.

And you helped me. And we did some private Pilates sessions just because I wanted to get moving again, but I didn't want to hold back a class. Right. I needed to do things for myself that were good for me. And I have a tendency to push myself a little bit harder and I need to make sure that somebody else was [00:29:00] paying attention to what I was doing. So I didn't overdo it. Again, I can be a little adventurous. 

Olivia: [00:29:05] Actually. I'm like, so this is something you should be doing four weeks postop, Sabrae. Like maybe we slow that down a little bit. 

Sabrae: [00:29:12] No. Why would we do that? Don't slow the roll, but it was great. And, you know, I was really up and going and feeling pretty good. And then it was time for my followup mammogram and my right breast looked great. I had the lumpectomy, but then they saw something on my left breast that they weren't just quite sure about. And I pushed to have that mammogram on my left breast. Okay. But before I do radiation, let's make sure, like, did we look over there? Has anybody paid attention to that side? 

And so we did a mammogram and ultimately did a biopsy, but it came back negative. So that was good. But I, then I had another surgery. So that was in November of last year. They did do a lumpectomy. They did take that out cause they couldn't exactly identify it. It didn't test as cancer, but just to be safe.

My first [00:30:00] radiation treatment was in December of last year, like after Christmas. And then I finished in January and I was feeling pretty good by March. And then COVID quarantine. I would normally not be a frightened person or afraid, but as it turns out, because COVID is a respiratory virus and it attacks your respiratory system, I am vulnerable because I had gone through radiation and it takes about a year, according to the doctors, for the tissue that's in the lung underneath of your breasts that has been radiated. The tissue itself regenerates, but it takes some time. 

That was really unnerving for me. I sometimes feel a little like a superhero. I can survive anything, but COVID, you know, made me stop in my tracks and go, wait a minute. I actually am one of those vulnerable [00:31:00] people. I did take it seriously. The good news was that I felt better like respiratory wise because Pilates first principle is what? Breath. So I was doing plenty of like breathing on my own and really basically breathing exercises just to try to help myself heal in that way so that I didn't have to be so worried. You know, I'm not really a worrier. And so that was an unusual feeling for me. 

Now where we are, I mean, I, like everybody. I wear a mask, I wash my hands. I do as much as I possibly can to protect myself and others. You know, we did all that virtual teaching, which was great because at least I was teaching, even though it's not the same experience as in person teaching, at least it was something. And I was very happy that we were bringing that to our members. And I was able to do that [00:32:00] for my personal private clients. 

And, you know, they say all the time when you're not feeling good, that positive energy around you, you need those people to be your cheerleader. And I'm usually the cheerleader. I was accepting all of that goodness from others, from you, Olivia, who I love so much, you were so supportive of me. 

And it was in this community, we talked about that, you know, that I build. I couldn't believe how many people cared enough about me to send me the cards and the flowers, and then just continue to support me through COVID and ask if I was okay. And, you know, that's the benefit of community when you're going through something like breast cancer. I mean, I had phone calls from all around the country. I've lived all around the country. I had friends all around the country and breast cancer, like I said, is no joke. 

And I'm really happy it's breast cancer awareness month. The studio is allowing me to put some health and [00:33:00] wellness classes on my schedule.

So I'm excited about that. And we're going to do a fundraiser to benefit Lynn Sage breast cancer research center, which is where I had my treatment done. Thank you to all the doctors and nurses at Lynn Sage, they were amazing and kind and wonderful. 

My husband went to every single appointment with me. And I cannot tell you how important that was having him at those appointments was everything to me. I was crying at every single point and I needed that emotional support. So that's probably, you know, the long answer to the short question, but I think it gives you a pretty good view of how I believe Pilates helped me get through my cancer diagnosis, get through the surgeries, get through the treatment, get through radiation and to the other side of it and continues to help me every day.

Really, [00:34:00] again, work that space of, you know, my shoulder, my scapula girdle, you know, all of the muscles around the surgical site, where they took my lymph nodes out. I don't think without doing Pilates, that I would have gotten through it as well as I did. I really don't. 

So I hope other people hear this and you don't always know who's going through cancer. We know it's a lot of people because of the numbers, but people don't always talk about it. It's okay to talk about it. It is scary, but when you talk about it out loud, it makes it a real thing and you will also find your community if you let them in. 

More people than I ever thought came up to me and told me that they had also had cancer. People, I would have never imagined, members, strangers somehow. Just through, you know, meeting somebody I know. And then coming up to me like blindly, Oh my God, you don't know me, but so-and-so does. And they told me that you have cancer. And there's a [00:35:00] large group of people out there ready, willing, and able to mobilize to help if they can. And I'm very grateful that I had that. 

Olivia: [00:35:09] Sabrae, you are fantastic. The studio in the West Loop is very lucky to have you as a teacher. I consider myself very lucky to count you as a friend. I really appreciate you taking the time to share your story about breast cancer, about the magic of  and the intricacies of Pilates and your journey. So thank you so, so much for taking the time and for being on today. 

Sabrae: [00:35:32] Thank you very much. I hope that even if a little part of this helps somebody else, that that will make me feel better. And I already know it helped you, at least I think so. 

Olivia: [00:35:42] Yes, definitely yes. Thank you, Sabrae.

Thanks for listening to this week's chapter of Pilates Teachers' Manual, your guide to becoming a great Pilates [00:36:00] teacher. Check out the podcast Instagram at @pilatesteachersmanual, and be sure to subscribe wherever you listen. For more Pilates goodness check out my other podcast, Pilates Students' Manual, available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

The adventure continues. Until next time.



Welcome
First Pilates Experience
Becoming a Teacher and Its Challenges
Advice for Aspiring Teachers
Building Community
Pilates and Breast Cancer