Up until an unexpected injury, Physique 57 client Willow J. had been a regular at the barre from the moment we opened our doors. Here, she shares her story of her journey back to Physique 57, her challenges along the way and the joy she has found in each achievement, big and small.

I first studied with Tanya Becker at The Lotte Berk Method. When that studio closed, I learned she and Jennifer Vaughan Maanavi were teaming up to start a new studio here in New York City six years ago.

Tanya developed Physique57 into a new, fun, challenging, effective and fast-moving method incorporating updated positions from the original technique. The classes were invigorating and instantly rewarding, I became a self-described Physiquiac making it part of my routine several times a week. Essentially, what keeps us moving forward in life are activities and communities which keep our minds, bodies and souls pulsating with excitement, variety, challenges, results, joy and energy.

At the end of December 2012, I was blind-sided by a bicyclist (a Tour-de-France wannabe) while crossing at a major intersection in Manhattan at midday. According to the wonderful witnesses who helped me, the bicyclist saddled up and rode off when he realized how badly I was injured.

The doctors could not believe how seriously a pedestrian could be hurt when hit by a bicyclist, nor could they believe how quickly I was able to get up and move forward. My family, friends and I believe that being in good shape by having taken Physique57 classes regularly, helped me to endure, heal and move beyond the accident faster than originally predicted.

Once the doctors gave me approval to return to Physique 57, I contacted Jennifer and Tanya who suggested that I take a couple of private lessons to come up with a strategy to work around the new limitations. During these sessions I was advised by the experienced, top-tier teacher to take time in the classes and especially through the transitions, and what modifications to incorporate for the exercises. The orthopedic surgeon said “take it slow, listen to your body and if it hurts, stop doing it.” Add to that the advice of the Physical Therapist—who having had hands-on weekly contact–recommended specific exercises and muscles groups to be vigilant about toning and what moves to avoid. If you have a body-work specialist in your life—acupuncture, Alexander Technique, Feldenkreis, massage, etc. get their advice, as they know you before and after the illness/accident. Knowledgeable guidance, listening to one’s body and common sense are essential components of healing and becoming stronger.

It was extremely moving to return to the studio after several months’ hiatus, and to be welcomed very warmly by the amazing staff and the teachers of Physique — it brought me to tears of joy and relief. At first, it was daunting to come back, but I quickly started to gain strength, mobility and flexibility. Now, after having taken a few Beginner classes, I am now regularly in Mixed classes — progress!

Willow Success Story after injury

If you have been ill or unable to take classes for any reason, I urge you to come back when your doctors approve, take a gradual approach to classes, and take courage in knowing that there is substantive support system from Physique 57 staff and clients — which starts with the extraordinarily generous leadership of Jennifer and Tanya.

Advice: Look both ways (and behind you) when crossing the street, wear your helmet when rolling, rely on family and friends for support when you need it, and keep moving!

Goal: To get strong enough to attempt a Physique Cardio class.

See you at the Barre!


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