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Gettng Back Into Shape After Spinal Fusion Surgery - Michael's Story

I had spinal fusion surgery a little over a year ago and was looking for something different than the usual gym-workout club to get back in shape and strengthen my core & flexibility. I wanted something close, that has classes/workouts that would get harder as I progressed and continued to challenge me. 

As I was doing internet searches on health clubs/fitness centers around my home,  a Pilates location popped up that was not Club Pilates. From there I watched Pilates Youtube videos and I liked what I saw so I decided to take a class. After that class, I did another google search on other Pilates locations and Club Pilates Wicker Park popped up as an option. I was curious and I signed up for an intro class to compare.

In my first class, being the only guy was a bit concerning, I kept thinking, “Is Pilates just for women?”. Before and after the class I had some good conversations with the owner, Abbey. She couldn’t have been more helpful, kind and thoughtful.

I decided to sign up!

When I have a chance to go 4x a week, I feel great and can do 1.5 classes well, but then I travel for a week and return to the 1.5 classes it becomes a real struggle, but I expect over time that issue will diminish.

I have two small rods that hold the vertebra in place to relieve pressure on my spinal nerves.  In theory, it’s the sturdiest part of my back, but I’m not as strong or flexible in that area. I remember my first few classes struggling to stay in the “tabletop” position. I would look around the class to see everyone else having zero issues with that simple position while I’m sweating bullets in exhaustion. Now, you can literally put a tabletop on my legs and have dinner! My core is night and day better. My spinal fusion is not an issue for me, I am able to work out regular and proper fashion.


Going back to the workout challenge that I was initially looking for, I definitely found it here. I took a 1.5 Cardio Sculpt with a real motivated instructor. The next day I could not straighten out my arm (for about 3 days). I was traveling that upcoming week and on the plane, an elderly lady asked me if I needed help getting my luggage down because she could see me struggling trying to reach up to the overhead bins. I’m probably scaring a lot of people with this story, but the fact that I got through that really tough class reconfirms I’m getting stronger and in much better shape. Since then, I have taken that class with another instructor and I wasn’t sore at all the next day. With the variety of classes and instructors it's easy to find classes you love.

When I started, I weighed 224 with a 38” flabby gut waist. Today I’m 220 I have more muscle and a smaller layer of flab with a 36” waist.  Same thing with my chest. I have used the word flab in those 2 sentences more than I have ever said in twenty years. Sorry about that! But I’m just not sure how else to describe it.  So basically, I’m getting in much better shape, rather quickly and it’s a very nice feeling!

Some thing I was surprised that I’ve gained from Pilates has been putting my socks on more easily!

I also walk taller, my golf swing has more balance in it, and my posture has improved.  Lastly, I own a Great Dane and for the first time in a long time, I can pick her up. Not that I want to do that a lot, but just knowing I have regained my core strength to be able to do it is a cool feeling!

If someone were to ask me what I love about Pilates, I would say that it's not so much one single thing. I would say that it checks a lot of boxes, which is what I really love. I first signed up for 8 classes a month plan and then quickly went to the unlimited plan, because I really wanted to get in better shape and early on, I started seeing positive results. When I'm not traveling out of town, I look forward to the different classes offered. Being around positive-energy instructors that have helped me make steady improvements to my form.

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