Cathy Kandalac-Sweetman Certified Pilates Instructor, GFCP
I was first introduced to the Feldenkrais Method® after eight years of unsuccessful traditional physical rehabilitation. Injuries, chronic pain, and fibromyalgia had confined my once active, vital self and left me bedridden. Although I had been left discouraged and nearly hopeless by failed rehabilitation attempts and doctors’ prognoses that I would live with constant disabling pain, I decided to devote whatever time it took to reclaim my life.
Contacts within the Feldenkrais community led me to the Center for Physical Health. After extensive research, I decided to relocate from Michigan to California to seek treatment there. I was drawn to the Center because of the numerous disciplines they offered in one location. I could further explore the Feldenkrais Method® and at the same time see highly qualified physical, massage and reflexology therapists, and when ready, include Pilates and Gyrotonics exercises for strength and conditioning.
My first visit to the Center was unlike any other rehabilitation experience I had known. For the first time I wasn’t left in a room attached to equipment and lying on an ice or heating pad. A therapist saw me personally for 50 minutes. No matter how difficult a day I was having, I left feeling that change was always possible. The Feldenkrais Method® calmed my nervous system and effortless movement became possible for me again. Then I was able to gain more strength and flexibility by incorporating Pilates and Gyrotonics exercises. Although progress seemed slow at times, the therapists were always supportive, encouraging and imaginative in their technique and approach. Most important, I was given the tools to feel capable of growing physically and personally.
Feldenkrais and Pilates became a way of life for me. After 12 years of being on disability, I was ready to re-enter the work force. A career change was needed, and I was inspired to do what had transformed me. I studied Bones for Life® with Ruthy Alon, a technique using a series of movements to stimulate the body to help rebuild bones, promote alignment and create freedom of movement, and I became certified as an instructor. I went on to become a Certified Pilates instructor and started teaching at the Center for Physical Health in 2000.
I started a Pilates Mat class geared toward patients who have completed physical therapy and want to transition to an exercise program, as well as those just starting Pilates. I continue to study and take workshops to expand my knowledge, including Yoga and Pilates for pregnant women. In 2005 I fulfilled my dream of becoming a certified Feldenkrais Method® practitioner and am now teaching The Feldenkrais Method® Awareness Through Movement classes.
Drawing on my own rehabilitation experience, I work with people struggling to overcome illness and injury as well as fitness clients looking to sculpt, tone and strengthen their bodies. I enjoy utilizing the Swiss ball, foam rollers, Thera-bands®, Bosu® fitness ball, free weights and Pilates Magic Circles to give my clients lots of variety and keep them challenged.