Skip to content

The Power of Pilates for Pain, Balance and Improved Mobility


The Power of Pilates for Pain, Balance and Improved Mobility

Felicity Cohen: [00:00:00] Hello, I’m Felicity Cohen. I’m so excited to introduce you to my wellness warriors podcast. For over 20 years, I’ve been a passionate advocate for helping thousands of Australians find solutions to treating obesity and health-related complications through surgical intervention and holistic managed care.

My podcast is dedicated to all the people. Past, present and future who have helped shape my journey and continue to inspire me to work consistently to achieve a healthier Australia in both adults and future generations. I hope you enjoy it. 

Welcome to my wellness warriors podcast today. It’s my absolute pleasure to introduce you to Sarah Callaham.

Welcome, and thank you so much for making the time to come and be here with me today and join me on the podcast. 

Sarah Callaham: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me. 

Felicity Cohen: Pleasure. So I’m fascinated, first of all, Sarah, in your journey [00:01:00] and how you ended up arriving in Australia, you’ve only been here for four years. Tell us about a little bit about your journey and where you started. You grew up in California? 

Sarah Callaham: Yeah, so I grew up in Northern California. We were in the mountains. So we did everything that was pretty much outdoors. So people usually think of California as like LA and the beach. And we couldn’t have been farther from that. Like I didn’t see the beach. The closest beach to get to us was, or to the ocean was probably four hours away.

Or if you’re driving through San Francisco. So, we were in the rivers, the lakes, hiking, climbing, skiing, all snow sports. So that was, that was kind of where I rolled. And then I got into swimming, competitive swimming, as a kid, just through the pool and, kind of fell in love with it and sort of an obsessive way.

I’ve always been one of those people that’s like all in or all out. There’s no kind of like, oh, I’ll try it and see how it goes. It’s [00:02:00] either like doing this. So at 10. It was like, okay, I’m training. We’re going to, I’m going to make the Olympics, whether how ridiculous that probably sounded to my parents or not.

It was like, that’s what’s happening. So it was year round training every day and which in some ways was great, right? Like I learned so much from swimming in terms of discipline, in terms of hard work. You don’t like something, it doesn’t really matter. You’re still going to push through or you’re going to go for it.

But in other ways, that’s where I kind of found my journey in terms of management of pain, learning more about biomechanics and body structure and what that like inevitably led me to where I am today. So by 11, I was starting to get shoulder pain, just like basic tendonitis kind of stuff. So then by 14, I actually couldn’t use my arms anymore in terms of swimming. Like I was [00:03:00] still picking up things, but even just like grabbing the cereal box off the top shelf was insanely painful. When I was learning to drive at age 16, a lot of the times I held the steering wheel from below because putting them up top was too hard.

 You didn’t do anything extra with your arms, like you were. I was on, I don’t know, like at least eight Advil a day just to manage. You’d get out of the water you’d ice before you got in the water you’d ice. The only amount of swimming I was actually doing was probably about 200 yards of like actual pooling and then everything else was kicking.

So it was. And because I’m so like I’m in, or I’m out, there was no in between. So it wasn’t like, oh, maybe I should back off for a little while. I was like, okay, let’s go to the physio. What else can I do? Like, there was no like, oh, we’ll take a break and see if it gets better. It was just, you just kept pushing, which like, looking back now was really dumb.

But you know, when you’re a kid, you’re like, no, I have to make these [00:04:00] goals or have to make these certain things. So we would attach, like we kicked with fins, there was a couple of us in the kickers lane or that we’d attach like belts to us. And then we pulled those five gallon paint buckets behind us, or we’d attach bungee cords to us and you have to kick from one into the pool to the other and try and get there before you got yanked back.

So like my body, like imbalances were insane. So I had legs that were, I’m probably four pants sizes smaller than when I was in high school purely cause my quads were insanely massive. 

Felicity Cohen: And that was by design to help you power through the pool to be faster, stronger and better swimmer?

Sarah Callaham: Yeah. And so the problem, actually, in some ways it was like I was getting faster purely because my leg strength was going, but it’s not because I was any better in terms of like movement or pain.

So eventually it got to a point where like playing water polo was just impossible with the throw. And I [00:05:00] was like, okay, this is just, what am I doing? You know, someone on my team who’s, who was a friend. And I thought of him, I was like, what, what a jerk? Like, why would he say that? He’s like, Sarah, what is the point?

Why are you still doing this? And I’m looking at him just being like, like ready to punch him. But I went home that night and I was like, what are you doing? Like, you can’t pull with your arms. Like, you’re never going to get to any point higher level in the sport, you can’t use half your body, like you’re an idiot.

What are you thinking? You know, so at that point I was like, okay, I’m done swimming and I just stopped swimming completely and at that point I was still skiing. I was like on my ski team for the high school, which was cool. But again, I think at that point, that’s when I started realising I started getting pain in my knees.

If I was trying to do dry land training or running, or if we were skiing, my knees were starting to hurt more and more. And I’m like, what is going on? But just ignored it. Went straight into college skied for my college [00:06:00] team there. And I was teaching ski lessons to all the little kids on the mountains on the weeks that we didn’t train or compete.

And in that snowplow, like the pain was just getting worse and worse and worse. And it was getting to a point where I was like, dude, I can’t even, like walking across the floor flat ground was painful. I’d have to like hobble down the stairs. I couldn’t bend my knees down the stairs. So we spent all the time, the athletic trainers, like trying to rebalance, trying to get everything back together.

We did light therapy. We did injections. We did heat. We did cold. We did like anything you can think of, we tried. And it was getting to a point where it’s like, okay, nothing’s really working. So he’s like, all right, why don’t you go see this knee specialist? He’s supposed to be the best in the state. I was like, all right, sweet.

So I go and look at him. He’s like, okay, we can do exploratory surgery. And I’m like, oh, What’s that. Okay. Like what, what are the options here? How’s it gonna work? Well, 30% of the time we do it, we find something that’s going to help and then you’ll be way better off. We can come back and we do [00:07:00] the surgery and I was like, all right.

And then the 70% he’s like, yeah, we find nothing. I was like, awesome. And then he goes, or we can cut your it band. We can split it so that you only have just a little bit hanging on. And then that sometimes 30% of the time works. But when it does work, it works every time. And I’m like this is infomercial. It doesn’t sound good.

Felicity Cohen: It sounds radical. 

So let’s just pause for a second. That’s so much to unravel. First of all, you know, I love the idea and the concept of what sport drives for kids in terms of self discipline and the ability to perform better in other areas of life in general, whether it’s at school. It enhances performance, and I wish we could see more kids understand, or even parents understand the value of being engaged in some form of competitive sport. 

You know, what you learn on the field or in the pool or in any sporting arena is so incredibly valuable from that [00:08:00] sense of self-discipline. And I know I’ve seen it in my own children, you know, being capable of performing and working hard at sport has definitely made a difference in everything else that they do in life.

Sarah Callaham: A hundred percent.

Felicity Cohen: And also manners. They learn manners through sport as well, or reinforced good behaviors in sport, how you respect your teammates and your colleagues that translates to so many different things right throughout life. I it’s interesting cause I have a memory of my daughter when she was a competitive gymnast and we went to France and she trained there.

 And in France you don’t just say hello to your teammates. You of course kiss them all on both cheeks before you even start to train. And I thought this is so beautiful, you know, the respect and the cameraderie and all these other things that we gain from sport, I think is so, so unique and so special. 

And you were clearly incredibly diverse driven, but what, what did they attribute that [00:09:00] pain in your shoulders to at the age of 11? Was there any kind of understanding awareness or that diagnosis was not until much later when you were looking at exploratory surgery. Cause that seems pretty extreme and so the pain from your shoulders and your arms and progressively seemed to get worse and traveled down through your body, how was that actually understood or diagnosed or what awareness was there around? What was this attributed to? 

Sarah Callaham: So as a kid in like a normal team sport, you know, my coaches, they were awesome. You know, they were, they were so good. One of them had had very similar pains when he was, when he was young and growing up too. So he was trying to give us that same sort of support, but the part, so they always just said, oh, it’s just tendonitis.

Like it’s just inflammation. You’re just overusing it. It’s because you’re not balanced in the right muscle groups, but I did all of that. And granted, like, I [00:10:00] was probably way more rounded and way more overdeveloped in other areas, but even the exercises never made, never seem to make any difference. my body type is that I have hypermobility through all of my joints and ligaments.

So especially in my shoulders, they sublux or they’ll pop out. You know, they’re always telling me, sorry, you got to reach as far as you can. So I go to reach as far as I can. Well, normal people stop here, but I can pop the shoulder out of the socket to reach farther. And I don’t recognise that that’s happening because that’s so normal, just how I move.

So it wasn’t until much later until I actually looked at, started doing my Pilates training, I started looking at my movements and other people were like, what are you doing? Like, what do you mean? Isn’t this how everybody moves? No, we don’t move like that. So everyone’s just like, oh, you know, you know, your knee pain, your shoulder pain.

It’s just because you’ve got that over that overused. It’s just overwork. You’d have the [00:11:00] imbalances, but which is true, like our a hundred percent agree with that. But because of the hypermobility within the joints, I was going to be more susceptible to that. If I didn’t understand where I needed to be more stable in the first place, like the stability of the shoulder did not exist in my training for swimming. And then the stability of my pelvis and my low core did not exist when it came to skiing. 

So, I mean, the knees had no chance in trying to stabilise because the hips were all over the place. So it wasn’t until the doctor. So our, we got not like, just go to Pilates, like just go get really strong just, and I’m like, dude, I was so strong.

You just told me not to do anything for the last, however long. I was like, whatever, I’ll go to this weird Pilates thing. I don’t even know what it is. And then I went to it. I remember walking in and you’ve seen Pilates like all the crazy machines and the equipment. Slightly terrifying. Remember walking in me like, whoa, like had my hand on the door.

I was like, oh, I’m not staying in here. And the lady walks out like on [00:12:00] clouds, like flowing through. She’s like, oh, you must be Sarah. I’m like, you are the only reason I’m staying right now because you look nice. And as someone who’s strong and has always been an athlete, you know, I was like, okay, well I’ve, you know, I’m strong.

I can do all these things. First thing she had me do, I was like, so can you just walk. I just walked and she’s like, oh, you don’t know how to walk. Telling someone who is an athlete that they don’t know how to walk is like the most offensive thing. You’re like, what do you mean I can walk? She’s like, no, you can’t.

So from that point, I either had a moment. It was like, I was either going to go, okay. All right. She’s full of it. Like, she’s an idiot. She’s got no idea what she’s talking about or. Whoa. Like, am I that far off? Is this where I have to, like, is this really where I’m at? And I’m thankful that I didn’t totally get my ego up into the sky and was like, all right, let’s see what you’ve got.

And she changed my [00:13:00] gate, started looking at all the muscles that weren’t stable, all the things that weren’t right. And, yeah, it, within a month I was walking in without any pain. So it was. In the beginning. It was, yeah. It was like, oh, you’ve got these, you know, patellofemoral syndrome or, oh, you’ve got these tendinitis.

But I think really what it came down to once I had the awareness of understanding from someone from a different perspective of not just purely that medical doctor, surgeon side of things, it was like on a, there’s a few more things going on that I wouldn’t have been able to see by myself. 

Felicity Cohen: So biomechanically, pilates is designed to support people. Better manage pain. Is that the promise behind Pilates? And, is that what attracted you to it, you know, as a long-term solution for managing and helping people? 

Sarah Callaham: Yes and no. So Mr. Potty started it back in the, while it was back in world war I really [00:14:00] he’d been interned.

 He was a German national, he was interned in England. and those prisoner of war camps, he was just training himself and do all these things. The reason you see Springs in the equipment is because he pulled the Springs out of the mattresses, and started using them as ways to weight train. And it wasn’t until the English, the English soldiers were like, oh, who’s this guy like, you’re going to have to train all of our soldiers and fix our people who are in the infirmary. 

So he, he was like, okay, well, I’ve got people who are, you know, amputated people who can’t like, you know, got brain damage. Like, what are we going to do? You guys can’t move out of your beds. So that’s why those things look kind of archaic and kind of scary because they’re off of hospital beds and that idea of the four posters.

So then you could train them to use their core while they’re still lying down. So on a very basic level, It does have its origins in terms of like, okay, how can I get you out of pain? How can I get you stronger? in terms of him himself, he developed a system to try and make himself stronger. Cause he was [00:15:00] a sickly kid.

He never really did well, physically and he trained himself into a machine. So then he moved to United States trying to Flay the world war II and got stuck with all of the dancers. His studio was above the American ballet company. And so it was just, it happenstance people like, oh, you’re broken. You got to go see on.

I’d be like, oh God, he’s so crazy. And so they’d go up there, but he would fix him. And so it was very individual. It was okay, you’ve got this problem. I’m going to work on this and this, and look at you biomechanically from however his genius mind worked in that way. For me, I came at it from that very same standpoint.

 It has developed in a lot of ways to become more of like a fitness type of thing where yeah, she are going to get really strong. Yes. You are going to probably tone in ways that are a bonus, but in my opinion, it’s always been a bonus. It’s like, okay, I need to come out of pain first and be able to have my functionality in my movement.

And I [00:16:00] feel much better about myself in my daily life. And then if I look a little bit different, cool. That’s nice. Cause it’s probably not going to go the way of, you know, feeling like I’m unstable or, or feeling like I’m here. Like I’m feeling lighter in my body. I feel like my movements are smoother. so that’s, that’s definitely how it came from me.

Felicity Cohen: Yeah. It’s got a fascinating history of the whole development of Pilates from, Mr. Pilates. And I was a little bit aware of how it’s been used for, for ballet dancers as well. So that’s so fascinating and definitely, you know, I can, I understand, you know, it’s used for rehab and strength and conditioning.

It’s known to be amazing for abdominal and core strength and really working on that area. How has it progressed and developed over time? And obviously now it’s a, so much more popular and there’s a much greater awareness of the value of incorporating Pilates, maybe as part of an overall exercise program.

What do you think has given rise to this [00:17:00] whole big, I guess, understanding of how Pilates fits into the wellness industry and into health wellbeing and exercise sector? 

Sarah Callaham: Yeah, I’m not a hundred percent sure it’s been around for awhile and that term. So like, since the eighties, nineties you’ve seen it in the states.

 And of course it was like real small, you know, it was kind of this weird boutique-y thing and people like, what are you doing? And then in 2000, it started to become a bit more popular and then you really saw it become more popular within that 2000 to 2010 in the states. Now in terms of Australia, cause I’ve only been here for last four years.

I don’t know what its progression looks like, but I know since being here. We’re coming here for the last six years. I’ve seen the amount of studios, the amount of people talking about it has definitely grown quite a lot. You know, people seem to be much more engaged and even want to have conversations with people.

Now I was like, oh, I teach Pilates. They’re like, oh yeah, I’ve heard of that. Whereas before they’d be like, oh, what is that? Like yoga or something. So there [00:18:00] is definitely more of that uptake. And I reckon it’s because especially here on the gold coast, if we want to look at that specifically, there is that idea of that health conscious idea, that fitness kind of more minded approach to people. and I think people are starting to realise, especially if you’re looking at it from the, from the rehab side of things. Okay. I can go and train myself all day long. I can be in the gym. I can push myself super hard. Like we know how to smash ourselves in a classic sense, but you can only smash yourself for so many hours, weeks, years, decades before something’s going to break.

If you’re not looking at balancing it properly. And that’s something that potties does really well, is it focuses so deeply on those stabiliser muscles it’s working on the neuro, the neuro kinetic patterns. So it’s making sure that you’re not just balanced, like, oh, I can stand on one foot, but I’m balanced.

Muscularly throughout the entire body that stabilise your [00:19:00] muscles are doing the work, as opposed to just the big movers. So that then your joints don’t have to have so much stress. So I think that that is the part that’s kind of come about. And then you’ll see that intertwined even in the fitness side of things.

So, you know, someplace classes can be insanely hard, you know, where I get and I’m like, oh my God, I’m going to die. but it’s coming from a perspective of such deep work that’s balancing out from like the deepest layers all the way out to the most superficial layers muscularly. So it’s, it’s not just about like, oh, I want to get a six pack.

It’s well, I feel strong from the inside all the way out. I feel taller. I feel longer. I don’t feel like I’m getting compressed or I feel unbalanced or this shoulder is bothering me more. Maybe it’s, you know, like they, they really make a good, a good point within the classes and within the system to make sure everything gets touched in a very even way.

Felicity Cohen: It’s fantastic. I loved the whole concept and I think it’s so important to focus on[00:20:00] , because I think a lot of the strength conditioning and the work that you can achieve through Pilates is really important for when we’re talking about functional fitness. And what does that mean as we age? You know, so thinking more future focused on not just what you’re doing and how you’re feeling now, but how are you protecting your health, your wellbeing and your body that you live in for the rest of your life. And what does that mean for your functional fitness down the track? Because in my understanding you can do Pilates forever.

There’s not a time limit, right. A hundred percent. So I hopefully when I’m 95, I can still do Pilates. Well, I’ll still be doing that. Sounds like a great idea. 

So Sarah, what brought you to Australia? So you you’ve been living here for four years. Yep. What was, what was that sudden trigger for you that made you decide that you were to come and live in Australia and move all the way here from California?

Sarah Callaham: Yeah, so my partner is Australian and so we’ve been going back and forth and trying to make it [00:21:00] work, you know, an ocean apart. And it was just getting to the point where it’s like, okay, this is emotionally draining. It’s financially draining. Cause it’s not very cheap to just, you know, come over and say hi, and it got to one it’s like, okay, well, what are we going to do either?

You’re going to move here to the states or I’m going to move to Australia. And it was just easier for me to move here since he’s got two little girls, which are not so little anymore. And we just made the switch, which has been difficult and challenging in a lot of ways. But I also find so many like silver linings in that where, where I was living in California and where I was living in Hawaii before I moved here.

Yeah. It was amazing. The lifestyle was exactly what I liked. It was more quiet, more low key. But in terms of career goals and where I wanted to take things, different things ahead of my brain of like, oh, I really want to set this program up where I want to work on these things. I want to be able to work with this population.

I didn’t have [00:22:00] that opportunity. It was just so much more difficult. And here I’ve been able to have been able to get through those milestones and, and keep working towards the goal. So it’s been, yeah, it’s been good. It’s definitely had its moment. But it’s been good. It’s crazy. It’s only been four years. I think about I’m like, wow. It seems like I’ve been here for so much longer with all I’ve done. 

Felicity Cohen: You’ve achieved a lot since you’ve actually been here and you’ve implemented what you refer to as The Body Method, you’re wearing on your t-shirt today. 

Sarah Callaham: I’m headed there straight after this.

Felicity Cohen: So tell me about The Body Method. What’s the concept and what does that mean? And,yeah, I’m fascinated to learn more about that. 

Sarah Callaham: Yeah. So the studio that I own and run is, I had been working there before I bought it with my partner, just as a normal instructor. And when the owner who had put it together, her vision was really beautiful. It was taking this idea of holistic fitness or holistic [00:23:00] wellbeing.

 But putting it in a really, not just beautiful, but super welcoming space. She has the creative eye to be able to put these two spaces together. We’ve got one, that’s a reformer based studio, which with all of the Pilates equipment, and the other one is a matt-based studio. So we’ve got bar, Pilates, yoga, et cetera.

But when you walk in, that’s what I loved about working there is when you walked in, it was like, oh, it’s just so nice to be here. Like, it just feels so comfortable. I think fitness can be intimidating sometimes for people, you know? And so when you first walk in, if it’s like, oh God, like everyone just looks massive.

Or I don’t know what those crazy machines are, or I don’t fit into this place. It’s sometimes you lose people before they’ve even started. and I think that’s what’s really nice about our spaces that I, I feel really lucky that we were able to take that over. And we took it over in 2019. So we’ve had it for a couple of years now, and it’s been fun to grow and to, and [00:24:00] to grow with the community.

That’s the part that I really have been focusing on is making it, it’s not just you’re coming for your class or it’s not just that, oh, you want to get your workout in? It’s like, I want people to come because they it’s like a second home. You know, like we are a little family. I treat all of my instructors that work for us as family.

And I hope that that passes down to the people who come in because we aren’t just fitness instructors. Like we’re not just looking at it from that side. We really do genuinely care about the full wellbeing of people. People that I work with generally are people who’ve had really serious injuries or, have, you know, have no.

They don’t have a path in terms of, that sounds bad, but you know, like when you see people, I’m sure you’ve run into this. It’s like, I’ve been to all the doctors. Like I’ve been to all the things and no one can really figure out what’s going on or why can’t I just get this? Or they’re just kind of at the end, you know, like they’re at the [00:25:00] end of their rope and their journey and they’re frustrated and they’re tired and they, they just don’t really know where else to go.

I’ll get those people too. And it’s just nice to be like, okay, like let’s just focus on the basics and start to give them something, at least in our space where they can feel like they’re accomplishing and making moves towards their goals, whether it’s pain reduction or mobility, or just better structural alignment.

Because then that transfers everywhere else. Right? Like when you feel better, your whole life feels better. Like if your body isn’t in pain, you’re not just constantly like in that little that pain cycle, you know, where everything just feels like it’s closing in. 

Felicity Cohen: Oh, that’s just so debilitating and it’s weight bearing.

And I think people need to be able to move beyond that. Get beyond that because it’s so limiting. I love your cultural values and your philosophy around your workspace. It’s very much aligned to how, how we behave here. Not just as a team. That community feel is so important to us with our [00:26:00] patient population. So, so similar in thought process, and I love, I love that. That’s fabulous. 

Can you tell me a couple of stories about people who you’ve worked with, where they’ve started and what you’ve achieved through getting them through something that’s been a huge challenge from the first moment they’ve met you?

Sarah Callaham: Yeah. So we’ve had, whether it’s been at The Body Method or at a couple other places that I’ve worked along the way, we’ve had a couple or I’ve had a couple of moments where I’ve just been like, oh God, sorry, don’t cry.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. You know? Cause it’s massive. Hey, like sometimes some of the things I’ve worked a lot with people with paralysis, you know, or paralysis or people who are overcoming surgeries from, whether it’s a hysterectomy or, you know, they’ve been in pain for so long, they finally taken a step to do it, something, you know, big on the medical side.

And then that almost feels more daunting because it’s like, oh God, I don’t have to recover from this too. [00:27:00] so, you know, for one, which was so funny and so cute, He was a patient who or a client who’d come from Spain. This wasn’t working here at The Body Method, but it was working when I was back in Hawaii.

And, he had been, he’d been paralysed from the waist down and he’d been able to walk at that point, but his, his feet weren’t, it was like a kind of a drop foot. Like he couldn’t get his toes to work. They just weren’t. They were just all with the foot. So nothing was working individually. And we were doing our normal exercises and we’ve been working on those pieces for a long time.

And since I worked through different fascial lines, we can kind of play with the pieces prior to the actual end part of that limb. And, he spoke Spanish. He spoke a little bit of English, but not much. So a lot of our sessions would be in Spanish. He goes into this big move and I’m like, okay, I really want you to think about trying to not only just bring your feet this way, but also think about bringing your toes around, you know, like, as you’re bringing your legs in that circle [00:28:00] motion.

And he’s like, okay. And he’s like doing it and feet aren’t working, the toes aren’t working, the toes aren’t working. And they finally kind of got a little bit and I was like, oh, is that an, is that a me just visualising that? Or is that actually happening? And then he must’ve clicked that he could do it.

And you know, the Adele song, he goes sings in English. He’s like, hello. And he waves his little toes. I was like, is it me you’re looking for. 

So that one was good. And I was like, oh my gosh. And he’s like, this is amazing, you know? And like just those little things. 

We’ve got another client at The Body Method, she again had been paralysed from the waist down. Still has one leg has come back amazingly. The other leg we’re still working on. But again, we’re starting to see those like little movements in the feet that hadn’t been there before, or the muscles are starting to flicker stronger in places that they hadn’t before.

Felicity Cohen: So was she in a wheelchair? 

Sarah Callaham: Yeah, she was. When she was a teenager after her [00:29:00] accident. It’s been a long time that she’s been working with that and she can walk now fine, but she still has a lot of weakness on the left side. So we’ve been trying to balance those two out.

And so, you know, even just getting people who’d walk in and you can tell they’re just in so much pain by the end of the session. And it’s like, oh, See you later, Sarah. I’m like, oh, wow. It’s so nice. Just to see that very, very drastic change within a short amount of time, just in a session. 

Oh, we had another girl who couldn’t get her hands to work. Again, same thing, she was quadriplegic. And so we were working on our fingers, working on her fingers, working on her fingers. And finally, she got her finger to work on that one. I just started crying. I was like, wow. She hadn’t moved her fingers for like five years. She’d never been able to use one at all. And it was, yeah, it was massive.

Felicity Cohen: Have you worked with many quadriplegic patients? 

Sarah Callaham: Yeah, quite a few. So the clinic I was working at before I moved here [00:30:00] was I was working with their spinal cord injury program. so people would fly out from all over the world to come and work with the master teacher that I was apprenticing under. 

I had the good fortune that I got to run all those programs with the people. She would tell me what she wanted to have done. And then I would, I would execute the program with them. So it was a lot of us just one-on-one for, you know, we do two hour sessions every day for a month until they went back home or people that lived there, we would do them two hours a day, five or four days a week, just every day.

So you were, you got to know them very, very well and all of their little achievements you celebrated just as much as they would, you know, it would, you felt like you’re a part of them.

Felicity Cohen: That just amazing. In Australia, are those treatments or those sessions are they covered by our healthcare system? 

Sarah Callaham: Oh, so that’s the hard part hey, right? Because from what I understand, when it comes to the healthcare here, Pilates had been on the, [00:31:00] had been on that one of those things that it would be covered. When I moved and started working with , four years, I guess, whenever that was, it had just switched. So they’d just taken Pilates off and yoga off and all of those kinds of things off, they kept anything that was still run by an exercise physiologist, or if it was run by a physio, it didn’t matter what that session was. As long as they were running it, you could get covered.

 But if you’re just a potties instructor or you’re just a yoga teacher, It doesn’t work that way. I have it seen it, some cases it’s like, oh, if you can get an exercise class, they’ll call. If it’s an exercise class, then that’s fine. But if it’s Pilates, that’s not good enough. So it is a bit of a weird thing where some insurance will take in some won’t.

Felicity Cohen: I hope that’s a situation that over time will be revisited because I’m hearing from you the powerful opportunity to, you know, to rehabilitate patients and to [00:32:00] help so many different people with different needs. It’s quite phenomenal and probably far more powerful than I’d actually understood Pilates to be and how it can be incorporated, you know, for so many different people in different needs. It’s literally amazing. it’s so exciting listening to this, and I think, you know, we’ve hope hopefully opened the minds of so many of our listeners today, the value of Pilates, you know, what is it all about and how can it fit into a wellbeing program? So I, I just love it. I’m beyond excited to hear from you all about Pilates and thank you so much for being here today. 

I’ve got one final, quick question for you, but I like to ask all of my podcast guests. So Sarah, what does wellness mean to you? 

Sarah Callaham: Wellness means to me, for someone to be well, I think they have to be well in a lot of different aspects. So it’s not just, it has, to me, it has nothing to do [00:33:00] with an outward appearance in any way, shape or form. It’s going to be more about how you feel within the temple that is your body, or, you know, the, the space that you’re having to reside in. So wellness needs to be a few fold. It needs to be somewhere where your head, you have that mind clarity. There is a sense of, inspiration or motivation, but not just like, oh, I’ve, I’m driven to do these goals, but it’s like, oh, I’m, I’m inspired to be part of life again, you know, like you’re inspired just to go out for a walk or the little daily tasks don’t feel so mundane or so heavy all the time.

 When someone’s truly, well, I think it’s when, you might not be on that perfect path to health, but you’re putting all of the pieces together to be able to, to get your body moving. You know, like you feel it’s not painful to move. It’s not, it’s not a struggle. It’s not depressing. It’s not, it [00:34:00] might still be hard.

Like that’s, I think is okay. Things can be hard and you can still be well, but you have the lightness and the brain and the body to be able to move yourself. 

Felicity Cohen: What a beautiful explanation. I absolutely love it. Please thank Sara Callaham for joining me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the wellness warriors podcast.

Sarah Callaham: Thank you for having me. It’s been really nice.

Felicity Cohen: If you didn’t join the series, please leave your review, subscribe and follow. And we look forward to sharing many more stories with you in the future.

Nutritionist & Dietitian

Meet our team


Chealse Hawk

Nutrion Leader Coach

Isabelle Cole

Nutrion Coach

Joshua Chambers

Nutrion Coach

Laura Barrett

Nutrion Leader Coach