Pilates helped me recover from near-death motorbike crash
THE accident that nearly killed fitness trainer Kylie Beeby inspired her passion for a form of exercise that would help not only re-build her body, but transform her life.
In the late 1980s, the Banora Point resident was living in the US, working at a Miami Beach gym that was a celebrity magnet, attracting the likes of Madonna, Eddie Murphy and Kylie Minogue.
Moving back to Sydney after her visa ran out, Beeby presented a cartoon show for Foxtel TV and also did promotional and retail work, before she was offered another job at a new TV station being launched in Bangkok.
But after moving overseas, the station never got off the ground.
The fun-loving Beeby was having too good a time to go home, so she resumed fitness training.
A series of fortuitous meetings in Bangkok eventually saw the "mad Aussie" training the movers and shakers of that city, including the Princess of Thailand, who would arrive by helicopter flanked by a large entourage.
Beeby was living the dream, working hard, and pursuing her passion for fitness through running and weight-training in her downtime.
That was up until a motorbike accident literally brought her crashing down to earth.
Beeby has no recollection of the accident, which occurred after she hit a ditch wearing just a helmet and bikini.
She just recalls waking in excruciating pain with serious leg and spinal injuries.
Back home in Australia, Beeby was told by medical specialists that her days of hard-core exercise were over.
Instead, she was advised to take up pilates and swimming to help with her injuries.
Beeby had dabbled in pilates, and even taught it, but considered it a bit soft and certainly not in keeping with her adrenaline-charged approach to fitness and life.
"But when I got into it, I couldn't believe how challenging it was compared to anything else I'd done," Beeby recalls.
"And, despite all those years of boofhead exercise, how weak my core and hip flexors were."
Beeby fell pregnant with her now seven-year-old daughter Lola soon after returning to Sydney.
It prompted a re-think of her life, including breaking up with her partner of eight years and relocating to the Tweed, where her grandparents lived.
She had begun to recover from her injuries, but giving birth set her back considerably.
"I could feel my scar tissue pulling apart in my back during contractions," she says.
To control the resulting pain and be able to raise her daughter, Beeby resorted to cortisone treatments three times a year.
It also freed her up to more intensely pursue pilates, as well as gain teaching qualifications.
Beeby says that so successful has the cumulative effect of pilates been in controlling the pain, she hasn't had a cortisone treatment since February last year.
After working as a pilates instructor for a couple of local gyms, in September Beeby opened her own studio at Tweed Heads South - Good Vibes Pilates and Yoga.
Physiotherapist Belinda Hinchey, who Beeby also credits with helping her to restore her body, also practises from the studio.
Ironically, Beeby says nowadays thanks to pilates, including a cardio version on a mini-trampoline, she is more toned and taut than her gym-junkie years and more in touch with her body.
"It changes your shape like you wouldn't believe because you're strengthening from the inside out."
The accident and pilates has also changed her approach to life.
"Things happen for a good reason. I needed to slow down. It (the accident) definitely mellowed me out."
That the boisterous 41-year-old considers herself mellow will prompt a laugh from anyone who has met her.
"Well, this is mellow for me," she concedes with a chuckle.
What is Pilates?
Pilates is a body conditioning routine developed by German Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century.
It may help build flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance in the legs, abdominals, arms, hips, and back.
It puts emphasis on spinal and pelvic alignment, breathing, and developing a strong core or centre, and improving coordination and balance.
Pilates' system allows for different exercises to be modified in range of difficulty, from beginners to advanced.
Intensity can be increased over time, as the body conditions and adapts to the exercises.