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My Fitness Journey: Melanie Rogers

I think I came out of the womb dancing! I studied classical ballet my entire childhood until the age of 26. I loved ballet with a passion. Starting when I was just 12 years old, I attended various prestigious ballet programs every summer. I was honored to have been able to study at The Boston Ballet School, the San Francisco Ballet School, and The Joffrey Ballet School. My career path was going well until age of 16, when I began to deal with the hormonal and emotional changes that come with puberty. Although I had ample talent and potential, I was disillusioned and frustrated with my skill level. I also had trouble getting motivation from my home dance studio and felt depressed about my body. I even quit dancing all together for a year, becoming a “regular” teenager.

I had to dig deep and swallow some pride to return to dancing again; losing a year of training definitely set me back and I had to learn to work harder than ever before.  Unfortunately in my late teens I developed extreme back pain that made dancing almost unbearable. Luckily, between acupuncture treatments and training in Pilates, I was able to heal my back. Pilates was the only therapy that consistently made my back feel good. I was hooked!

I was lucky enough to be able to dance professionally with the San Diego Ballet until the age of 26. With class and rehearsals 6 hours a day, six days a week, I lived in the dance studio. I practiced Pilates twice a week, and did extra cardio in order to stay in ballet shape. Pilates put my body “back together” after all the crazy demands I put on it in rehearsal. Pilates truly kept my body balanced and allowed me to dance relatively pain free.

After receiving my Masters in Oriental Medicine I treated a lot of patients with back pain using acupuncture. Although it helped my patients, I found that my treatments were often just a “band aid” for what was really wrong: fundamental muscle imbalances. I knew how much Pilates helped my back, so I decided to go through teacher training so I could offer Pilates to my patients.

Fast forward to 2006 when I had my first child. I had “retired” from ballet, hit the age of 30 and gained 50 lbs. during pregnancy. I had never had to work that hard to keep in shape due to my crazy dancing schedule, but now it was different. I felt tired, overwhelmed, damaged from the birth and unsure of how to get my body back. After a more positive birth experience with my second child, I was actually in a better mindset to get my body “back” once and for all. I was still doubtful I would ever wear a bikini again or fit into my skinny jeans, but I was ready to FIGHT for what I wanted.

What did I do? Pilates of course! But I also found zumba and cardio kickboxing as fun replacements for dance. And a key addition was incorporating barre workouts many times a week. I was so impressed with the results from barre work I now incorporate similar exercises in to my clients sessions. I dropped 6 sizes and shaved down my hips more than my pre-baby body!

In the last couple of years I have added in weight training, TRX and running to my regime. I highly believe in fusing and cross training various fitness modalities. I love it all! Although I believe your body needs to do more than the “basic” human movements:  push, pull, hinge, etc. You need to be able to be “fluid” in your joints, be able to roll through and extend your spine and have the ability to deep breathe properly. Pilates keeps you limber, moving, strong and balanced and young. Hands down there is nothing like it. You can do Pilates your whole life!

Recently I dialed in my nutrition and cleaned up my diet 100%. By eliminating wheat, dairy, grains and legumes and increase veggies, fat and protein, I have more energy, less illness and less weight problems than ever before. I’m not perfect and I have my indulgence days, but I am happy to have found an eating regime that works for me.

Now at 37, I feel more balanced and in BETTER shape than in my 20’s! I may have looser belly skin and stretch marks from childbirth (my well-earned tiger stripes!), but I still proudly wear a bikini! I believe in growing old gracefully, but also striving to better yourself everyday. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

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