What was your path to Pilates? What inspired you to take it up as a profession?
As a physical therapist, I was searching for an exercise method that could address the entire musculoskeletal system in a holistic and comprehensive method, working on multiple injured body parts in one session. Pilates does precisely that – allows me to integrate rehabilitation using Pilates-based exercises effectively and efficiently so that my patients recover faster.
Can you explain what you do and your philosophy?
I am a physical therapist and I specialize in treating orthopedic injuries, ranging from chronic pain, acute trauma, post-operative recovery, and sports-related injuries. My philosophy is to empower the patient with information by explaining to them the etiology of their symptoms and a detailed plan of care to achieve their recovery. I utilize manual techniques to help restore joint range of motion and myofascial tissue integrity, usually followed by specific pilates based exercise prescription to integrate normalized movement patterns in order to achieve long-lasting results and full recovery. My ultimate goal is to help you achieve your optimum success - whether it is to transition to pilates private sessions/classes or return to the exercise method of your choice.
What advice to you have to novice students?
Be excited about Pilates, continue to learn and explore and experience the method in your own body! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – it is part of the learning process.
How would you challenge longtime students to advance their practice?
Take workshops, become certified in level II STOTT Pilates. Spend time observing and learning from our Senior Instructors (Kristi, Shane, Michelle) – they will provide you with a plethora of knowledge on exercises you have not even thought of, including modifications for specific injuries.
Who are three colleagues/practitioners in the community whose work you admire?
- Kristi Quinn
- Shane Belau
- Michelle Gantz
When you're not teaching, what is your personal practice? Do you have goals for your personal practice?
I have an in-home studio so that I can practice Pilates on a regular basis. I watch online videos and also attend Pilates classes locally to learn from other instructors. In addition, I believe Pilates is not enough for a healthy body, therefore I incorporate cardio (biking and running) and weight lifting into my work-out regimen.
What do you do for fun?
Traveling – I’m obsessed with visiting new places, learning new cultures, exploring unknown terrain.
Has a student ever surprised you? If so, how?
I would have to change the concept to a patient since I’m in the physical therapy world. The most recent surprise story involves my current patient who has been working diligently to recover from a lumbar disk related herniation. He asked me last week: “Kat, I’ve been doing all your exercises, I’m finally pain-free for the last 2 weeks, I returned to playing soccer and walking my kids in the park, I’m back to all my usual activities. When can I stop finally stop pilates exercising for good?” My answer: “Never. I officially discharge you from physical therapy to a life-long pilates practice.”
What's a memorable moment you've experienced yourself in a class or on the mat?
Haha, I remember taking my reformer training with Kristi and the first time I did stomach massage on the reformer, I thought – was this exercise just made up to laugh at non-dance people? I mean seriously, my hips don’t even turn that way! But my philosophy is – whatever is hard, do more of it! And now I can proudly say that I can do stomach massage without a cramp in my hips, lol!
In today's fast-paced world, what advice to you have for people who don't think they have time to practice?
Well, that’s a dilemma we all face daily and I don’t have a perfect solution, as I’m a victim as well. What I have discovered in the past year that has helped me is practicing daily transcendental mediation. It helps me focus and prioritize my day, which includes daily exercise practice.
What is something you'd like to share that people might not know about you?
I am born in Ukraine. Studied in Oklahoma. Interned Switzerland. And landed for work in Seattle. I have a younger sister who is a professional rally race car driver! You can look her up on Instagram: @dash_bakai