Fostering body awareness, acceptance, and improved performance.

Interview with our newest instructor Mika Shafir

Mika RolloverWhat is your favorite Pilates exercise?

On the mat I love to do inversion exercises like rollover and on the reformer my favorite is the semi-circle.

How did you get hooked on Pilates?

I was active and in motion since childhood with after school and weekend activities like swimming, roller skating, gymnastics, and more. During my second year of Physical Therapy school a friend, who is a Pilates teacher, made us all come in early and start the day with a workout. It helped balance out all the sitting during the school day and made me feel more focused and energetic. Soon I found a Pilates course and studied the basics of mat just for fun. Whenever I feel discomfort in my body or hear someone complaining about constant pain from everyday activity, Pilates exercise, and movement in general, are always my number one solution.

What inspired you to become a physical therapist?

I always wanted to work in the medical field.  I injured my knees while in the army due to all the mandatory running and I had a great experience with my treatment with physical therapy.

What was it like to serve in the army?

Serving in the army taught me discipline and responsibility – being in charge of a group of soldiers, carrying a weapon, and setting an example at all time. It also made me proud of my country since I contributed to the community by delivering food on holidays and conducting cleaning and renovation operations on playgrounds and parks. I believe the army helped me appreciate time, independence, and mom’s cooking.

Tell us about your professional background.

After I finished my PT education in 2008 at Tel-Aviv University I worked in orthopedic rehabilitation which means that most of my patients had osteoarthritis or some sort of sports injury. I have also worked with other rehabilitation methods including prescribing and teaching specific rehab exercises and working on balance and control. One special method I enjoyed was AposTherapy, which is a device-supported rehabilitation.

Primarily I helped patients deal with pain and disability, correct movement and alignment, and encouraged them throughout the process. Motivation and consistent exercise can be hard to maintain so I also referred patients who were finishing their program to workout in different ways, mostly Pilates and swimming.

What are the similarities and differences between teaching Pilates and working in a Physical Therapy setting?

The Pilates setting can bring many kinds of people together who have different goals and they may not have pain or a disability. It is a refreshing change to work with highly motivated clients without the presence of chronic pain. Having said that, I feel that there are people who are seeking solutions to orthopedic issues that involve some discomfort and sometimes pain. From my experience, exercising regularly using safe and interesting exercises can help people achieve their goals. My role here very similar to PT since I adjust alignment, correct movement, and create a balanced class to work on reaching those goals.

What are you most excited about exploring about Seattle?

I love hiking and as a family we love exploring nature and getting familiar with the new-to-us plants and animals in the area. Washington is very lush and green and I would love to learn more about gardening, a new hobby. I am happy to report I have not killed any plants with my brown thumb.

As a newcomer to the area, what is the thing you miss the most?

Naturally, I miss my family. We are very close and it is hard to connect only by phone or Skype. As a mom of three young kids, it’s a challenge to not have the grandparents close by for hugs and easy babysitting.

I also miss the food; nothing tastes the same as in Israel. The array of fruits and vegetables is diverse, but the flavors are different. The cheese is delicious but the texture is not what I am used to. Mediterranean food, especially Israeli food, is very fresh. We use a lot of fresh herbs and spices that are not very common here, that is why I grow many herbs in my new garden.

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