Kelley Caldwell was a physical education teacher for 33 years, so when she was diagnosed with osteopenia in 2013, she naturally thought she could take appropriate steps to mediate the disease. Last summer, when she realized her osteopenia had turned into stage three osteoporosis, she knew it was time to do more.
“Being a PE teacher, I felt like I could do it myself,” she says. “I’m knowledgeable, but in reality, I needed help.”
Because of her background in physical education, she understood the need to strengthen her muscles and core to prevent falls and pain.
“I needed help with overall conditioning, and especially my posture,” Kelley says.
Kelley’s husband, Danny Caldwell, had been working for four years with Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, NCPT, owner of ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio. He began seeing Karyn for physical therapy a month before back surgery in 2018. [Click here for Danny’s story.] Following his surgery and more physical therapy, Danny began coming to Pilates classes at ProHealth.
Kelley knew Pilates had helped Danny, so she decided to try it for herself. In January, she began coming to Karyn’s Pilates Reformer classes two days a week with Danny.
When she tells other people about her Pilates classes, they think of floor Pilates. She explains that the springs and pulleys on the Reformers make the exercises seem easy.
“It feels like you’re not doing anything, but you are,” she says.
Kelley notes it takes a little time to get the movements right and that the effects are gradual.
“At first, when you’re doing it, your body doesn’t really have the conditioning to be able to do it right,” she explains. “But as Karyn works with you more, and you’re listening to her cues, you realize what she means by keeping your hips down or how to pull with the back of your legs and not your thighs. You gradually build strength and start seeing a change in your body.”
As the changes and benefits accrued, Kelley says she knew Pilates was the right exercise for her.
“I’ve just made it a part of my life,” Kelley says. “And by doing it and by making the commitment to just go ahead and give it a try, I’ve reaped the benefits of it. I have muscle engagement that I haven’t had for years, and I’ve strengthened my overall body. I’ve even lost weight!”
She credits Pilates with improving her range of motion in her tennis and pickleball games, too.
“I can get to a lot more balls than I could before,” she says. “I think even my teammates have noticed a difference.”
Kelley’s osteoporosis diagnosis surprised her and her husband. Having been active all of her life, they never dreamed she’d have a condition like this.
“There’s no way for you to know your bone density unless you have a scan,” Kelley says.
Kelley notes that Karyn helps her adapt Pilates movements to her body. Karyn gives cues and reminders to those who have bone loss issues so that they know they may have to do an exercise a little differently than others in the class.
“You don’t want to do anything that could cause a problem,” Kelley says. “It’s important for you to be under an instructor who knows what they’re doing.”
“At ProHealth, we strive to make Pilates available to everyone. We are a medical facility that must meet the highest standards, and this carries over into our wellness program.” – Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, NCPT
Kelley’s concerned about the confusion that surrounds the disease.
“There’s so much information out there and people telling you different things,” she says.
She often asks Karyn about the theories she reads or hears in conversations with friends.
“That’s another thing about Karyn, she’s not only an instructor, but she’s also medically knowledgeable,” Kelley says. “You can ask her about things.”
Kelley’s osteoporosis treatment comes with an onerous regimen. When the alarm goes off once a day, Danny goes to the refrigerator and retrieves the vial for her daily shot, administering a medication that builds bone rather than hardening it.
When she considered her options, she asked Karyn what would happen if she didn’t do anything.
“If I don’t do anything and it doesn’t go up, will I be okay? She goes, ’Kelley, no, you need to do something now.’”
In addition to Pilates and staying active, Kelley is careful with her diet, eating lots of yogurt and green vegetables and keeping her weight down.
She’s retired from teaching now, and though she misses her students, she and Danny enjoy this new phase of life. They’re looking forward to many things this year.
In June, they’ll celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Their sons are living independently and doing well. The youngest is getting married later this year, something Kelley is thrilled about.
“I’ve been blessed with a daughter!” she says about her son’s fiance.
This summer, Kelley and Danny will be traveling to Ohio, where their three-year-old labrador, Max, will be competing in a national dog show. (Max has a story of his own.)
“It’s exciting,” Kelley says. “It’s just really exciting.”
Kelley’s grateful that they can be active and enjoy life together despite her osteoporosis and Danny’s back surgeries.
“God’s taken care of us,” Kelley says. “He has taken care of us through all kinds of different things. And He’s taking care of us now.”
“He’s blessed us with Karyn. He’s blessed us with all these things.”
About ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio
ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio was founded in 2005 by Dr. Karyn Staples, PT, PhD, NCPT. She leads a staff of more than a dozen physical therapists, Pilates teachers, and office support staff in providing effective research-based therapies and exercise.
ProHealth is located at 1777 Georgian Park in Peachtree City. For an appointment for physical therapy, call 770-487-1931.
If Pilates exercise is something you would like to explore, private lessons and classes are available throughout the week at ProHealth. Call or visit https://prohealthga.com/schedule.