The story of The Douglas Method is also my story...
To explain what that mission is and why it’s important, we need to go back to the mid-2000s…
...I was lecturing in Pilates at the Pilates Institute in London, and lecturing and mentoring staff at the German Pilates Institute in Dusseldorf. I was also running a “train the trainer” course at the internationally recognised South African Exercise Training Academy (SAETA).
But, as an expert “industry insider”, I could see that Pilates was not the be-all-and-end-all that it was being hyped up to be.
I was growing more and more unhappy about some of the things I was required to teach.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Pilates is a fantastic exercise regime - for those who are already mostly fit and healthy – it was designed for ballet dancers after all. But what about the vast majority who are not elite athletes?
In 2006 I was invited to design a Pilates workshop for the Scottish Disabled Athletic Team.
This was the catalyst I needed to start developing my own methods for dealing with what seemed to me to be a core problem: giving exercise modifications to people who “can’t do it” - leaving them stuck without any way to progress - not to mention that the modifications themselves could lead to injury.
So, as Douglas Pilates, I began to develop new ways of working with clients with difficult and/or chronic issues, still within the overall umbrella of Pilates.
Classes became more focused on what clients needed, rather than what the exercises required. I had realised that the one-size-fits-all, follow-the-leader approach to fitness was not giving people the outcomes they wanted.
I was getting excellent results and dreaming about taking my new ideas to a wider audience. Especially when I began to get more and more clients coming to my classes after bad experiences, and even having picked up injuries, from standard fitness, yoga and Pilates classes.
It was clear that a different approach was badly needed.
In 2010 my dad had radiotherapy to shrink a tumour on his spine. A short course of physio followed, but he was having to use a walking stick as he was still not walking well, he couldn't feel his feet (peripheal neuropathy) and his balance was bad.
I was not happy and neither was my dad. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am like a terrier with a bone – I will NOT give up trying to figure out how to help someone. I went in search of new techniques – neuro-muscular facilitation, myafacia-tissue massage, mind-body awareness, muscle testing and bio-feedback, amongst others.
I fed these new modalities back into my work with clients and with my dad, integrating them with, and developing new ways of using, tried and tested fitness techniques.
Not only did my dad walk unaided again, he even got back to playing bowls! And I was getting amazing results with many of my other clients too.
(For example: one of my long-term clients – an MS sufferer – gave birth quickly and easily, much to the astonishment of her midwives - MS sufferers can experience nerve damage, which reduces the ability to push during labour.)
Sadly for my family, my Dad's cancer returned and, in 2014, he passed away. It matters a great deal to me that I helped him regain his mobility and get back to many of the activities he enjoyed.
I care that many people are not being given the support and advice they need to improve their physical health (and that the internet is a mess of conflicting, wrong and sometimes downright dangerous information).
I care that instructors who want to become excellent at what they do often struggle to find the support, training and mentoring they need.
I love my job - what gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing that I am going to help someone and improve their quality of life.
Find out more about Susan Douglas...
Or check out How It Works - and find out how the Douglas Method could help you...