For more than 13 years, Peak Pilates and Physiotherapy has been using the famed physical exercise as a means to complement their rehabilitation techniques to enhance and speed up recovery from injury. Peak was one of the first health and fitness firms in New Zealand to embrace this hybrid method and so Verve caught up with star staff member Georgia Farmer to find out more.
>> How would you describe pilates to someone not familiar with it?
“It’s essentially a strength-based exercise which uses the correct biomechanical techniques to activate muscles in the correct order at the correct time. Pilates works on some of the smaller — or local — muscle groups which often get missed at the gym in favour of the larger — or global — ones such as the glutes. Pilates works by stretching the muscles, and it is the local muscles that are needed to stretch the global ones. Practising it also improves balance.”
The company has studios scattered around Auckland and Georgia arrived at the Newmarket branch, their largest, with some serious sporting credentials. She’s travelled internationally with the New Zealand underwater hockey team and also has vast experience working with a range of rugby players. Plus, Georgia skis, rock climbs and cycles in her spare time. Since being snapped up by Peak, she’s added becoming a fully qualified pilates instructor to her physiotherapy degree, tending to patients from all walks of life, not just professional athletes.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with athletes at tournaments around the world,” says Georgia. “I’ve witnessed lots of injuries and you just have to figure out how to fix them. It was this which led to my interest in biomenchanics and anatomy. Pilates combines so well because when someone is going through rehab, they need to build strength and it’s ideal for those weakened muscle groups. Even after the physio’s finished, clients will often continue with pilates once they’ve realised its many benefits — including helping to prevent further injury.”
Endorsements by Olympians and All Blacks have further raised the profile of what many once perceived as a feminine endeavour. “Guys often prefer to go to the gym, but this actually shortens the muscles,” says Georgia. “Pilates will both strengthen and stretch them. The guys are usually surprised to discover it to be much harder than they expected. Then they get hooked!”
The centres are available for GP referrals, or customers can simply drop in. “We have longer appointment times, usually up to one hour, and we combine hands-on physio with the pilates,” says Georgia. “Our physios take you through the exercises whereas others may simply give you ones to practise at home.” Pilates is also offered separately to physiotherapy, and a membership-type scheme offers classes at a discount.
“It’s a constantly evolving industry, with so many new things to learn,” Georgia says. “It’s also a very supportive industry. We work together as a team, bouncing ideas off each other. If ever someone is not sure of something, there is always someone else who knows. We regularly attend training courses. You must always keep up-to-date with the latest theories. It’s certainly a challenging job, which is of course what you want. It makes it all the more rewarding.”