IN 2002, after the tragic death of her father, Georgette Mairs-Ingram decided she was not going to soak up the sorrow and withdraw into a shell. Instead, she focused her energy in an area she truly loved, and not only strengthened her mind, but also her body.
"I had one of two options," Mairs-Ingram said. "I could either withdraw, or I could keep moving. I decided to keep moving with the help of pilates — which she started in 2004 — and with the reformer in particular (pilates apparatus), I was able to lie on my back and get in shape — it was the best thing since chocolate!"
From there, pilates became a constant in her life.
After returning to the island from England in 2007 (she had left Jamaica in 2002) with her family, she set up a pilates studio in Mandeville — Pilates Central and Wellness Jamaica.
A certified level 1 pilates mat and reformer instructor who has been accredited by Stott Pilates Organisation based in Toronto, Canada, Mairs-Ingram has introduced Stott Pilates to the island — a specialised form of exercise that works the body differently from the inside out.
The method is a contemporary approach to the original exercise and includes exercise, science and rehabilitation, a method recognised by fitness facilities around the world.
Pilates is a very popular form of exercise internationally and is used in both fitness and rehabilitative circles.
Stott pilates lengthens and strengthens the body, rebalances the muscles, flattens the tummy, and helps to restore posture, the natural curve of the spine, and is also great for weight loss. It also adds inches in height.
Mairs-Ingram's Stott Pilates Reformer classes help with things like lower back pain, one of the most common problems among adults, and uses 'the reformer' for exercises that will help to correct any postural deviations such as scoliosis. The result is a balanced and aligned body, an important goal for clients whether they are rehab patients or athletes.
Other clients have a choice from a range of other methods that help with, among other things, the treatment of osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and similar problems associated with the bones, joints and surrounding tissue, as well as cardiovascular health and fat loss.
And her clients have been raving at the results.
"It actually helped me to lose weight. I did three C-sections and I can do sit-ups. I never thought I would have been able to do sit-ups again," said Kathryn Drake-Snider, one of Mairs-Ingram's clients who was at the studio when All Woman visited last Wednesday.
Drake-Snider admitted that she has lost 30 pounds over a two-year period and has lost two inches off her waist through pilates alone.
Mairs-Ingram said she also gets a number of persons coming to her with injuries, especially back pain.
"Pilates is highly recommended for persons with back pain," she said. "Physical therapists are also referring persons to pilates for relief from aches and pains. It's very powerful."
Even though the pilates industry is new to Jamaica, it's something Mairs-Ingram sees as having tremendous possibility for growth, since it is results driven.
"Persons want results. And you can do 100 sit ups and not see any significant changes or you can do five pilates and see results — that is why Stotts pilates is considered the leader in pilates education," she told All Woman.
She said after 10 sessions, persons feel differently, and after the recommended 30 sessions, persons have a whole new body, which is referred to as the 'pilates body'.
Mairs-Ingram's career has taken her from entertainment to hospitality to airline to wellness, and it's here, in the wellness niche, that she plans to fully establish herself.
"Through my faith in Christ Jesus I gained a lot of strength and was able to do the things that I love and pilates is something that I love," she told All Woman, explaining that she was particularly impressed with its similarity to dancing, something that has been a part of her all her life.
She was part of the ASHE Caribbean Ensemble and Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and she toured and performed in activities like folk festivals in England.
With over 18 years dance experience and six years fitness instructing experience, she has taught at health club facilities in England, America and locally.
And her children have inherited her drive — five-year-old daughter Mya ran the 5K road race in Mandeville and the Relay for Life in Kingston recently, while her son, Jayden, age eight, does taekwondo and tennis. Her husband does pilates and tennis.
"I have very active children, very energised and highly motivated," Mairs-Ingram said. "The entire family ran the 5k. And my daughter didn't want to just run, she wanted to run and win."
She added: "It's a joy to be a mother. That's the most important project I will ever work on. No other job or career can be as rewarding as being a mom."
Now, from her spacious studio on Greenvale Road, this instructor says she would want women to use pilates to overcome physical and emotional challenges because it is created for pain.
"This is especially so for those with back pains and those who have given birth," she said.