Post-rehab Fitness Therapy

Patricia Haft
Instructor and owner of Creative Fitness

Where did you do your schooling and training?

My training began 40 years ago in New York City. I received additional training in L.A. and Florida. I am a certified Pilates trainer, a certified Nickolaus trainer and a certified wellness counselor. Creative Fitness is a one-on-one Pilates-based exercise therapy studio.

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Patricia Haft

What does it mean to be a certified wellness counselor?

It means I can advise people about how to balance their lives to help them reach their optimum level of health. I work the whole body, and I try to maximize whatever strengths each person has.

What is Nickolaus training?

When I first started training, the procedure was to be an apprentice to a master trainer. Richard Nickolaus had been a friend of Joseph Pilates, who created Pilates 95 years ago, and Nickolaus was commissioned through Duke University to come up with a system of exercise that would help prevent the football players on the Duke University team from acquiring so many injuries. That’s how the Nickolaus technique was born. It’s a synthesis of the Pilates technique and the new work that Nickolaus had done. I received my initial training with a protege of Nickolaus. Nickolaus and Pilates are two techniques that have withstood the test of time.

What first interested you in pursuing a fitness career?

I grew up as a professional dancer and actress in New York. By the time I had reached my mid-to-late 20s, I had already acquired some injuries. Through Pilates and Nickolaus technique, I was able to rehabilitate myself, and that led me to interest in rehabilitating others.

What do you do to help seniors, in particular?

First of all, I train all ages. In more recent years, I have transitioned into specializing in post-rehabilitation of seniors. What I’ve found is that there’s a gap in the system. If people have surgery, let’s say they have knee-replacement or rotator-cuff surgery, through the doctor they are granted about six weeks of physical therapy. Unfortunately, that is not sufficient to reach the optimum level of recovery and health.

I provide that liaison between when they complete their required physical therapy and the next step, which is getting them to obtain full range of motion, strength and stability so that they can return to a more normal standard of life.

Do you also do preventative training?

Absolutely. Maintaining stability and avoiding falling is a great problem, not just for elderly people, but for a lot of people today, especially when you look at the streets and sidewalks of Honolulu. Ideally, what we’re looking for in terms of balance is a properly centered and well-aligned body with focused attention. We’re trying to establish a body that is equally strong and flexible. These are two great issues that, as we age, need to be dealt with because we lose strength and flexibility.

What are some tips to avoid falls?

• Slow down. Rushing causes tripping and falling. We’re living in a very fast-paced society, and I find that a lot of my clients have had accidents and falls because they were trying to do too much too quickly.

• Keep your hands free. Women should carry purses or shoulder bags that are short-cropped, that do not pull them to one side and throw them off balance. And that also will allow their hands to be free, so that they can grab onto handrails, or if they lose balance, they can try to catch onto something on the way down.

• Internal focus. Avoid distraction. Be mindful in the moment. Frequently, we’re thinking of so many things at the same time that it will make us not just mentally off balance, but physically off balance, as well.

• Eyes up and alert. Look up and out to know what’s coming next. If you’re leaving your car and walking down a road toward the shopping mall, keep your eyes up and look at least five feet in front of you. That way, you know what to expect. This is for everyone, men and women.

Those are good life tips, and what I do in the studio is I take care of the structural issues that allow people to be more balanced and resilient, should they be taken off balance.

Do you have a philosophy behind your teaching practices?

Invest in your health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is the best investment you will ever make. Without health, you have nothing.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Everything I do is custom designed for the individual, and I consider my students over the past 40 years to have been my best teachers. They have presented me with such unique sets of symptoms and conditions, and it’s a challenge to me to come up with a creative way to address their needs and get them back on a healthy path.

For more information, call 285-1475 or visit creativefitnesshonolulu.com.