This evening as I write this blog, I am enjoying my favorite Greek island music by Giannis Parios.  I am celebrating with music, which matches my KEFI- positive energy for life.  You see, this week, I am so grateful to be feeling better, stronger and dare I say a tad fitter, since beginning Pilates 2 weeks ago.  Tonight, I am certain that there is always a work around to every problem, a sound & natural way to regain strength/health and a reason we experience our setbacks.  My setback initiated a lesson in itself, which is to respect my body when I ask it to work hard.  I do not have to back off when I experience difficulties or strains; I only have to ask WHY am I am experiencing this uncomfortable situation and how do I mend it.

The quest for respect dates back to January 2014 when I began my dedicated training for DU. Signing up for Duathlon got me so excited to get in shape, drop lb’s and gain fitness.  I worked super hard running and cycling all the way to June, and then in an instant, my lower back and iTband started to wimp out on me. I kept working out through the pain, and then one day I couldn’t get out of the car without limping. I started canceling my run sessions with Coach, and it wasn’t because I did not want to work, it was because my back felt like a 1,000 bricks on it when I ran.  I decided I would kick this interruption by getting frequent massages, icing, taking Motrin and engaging in nightly Epsom salt baths and walking instead of running. However, after three months of this routine, as soon as I would feel some improvement and resume my normal workout routine, I inevitably  ended up at square one.

Joseph Pilate
Joseph Pilate

Coach Sara said it was time to do some Physical therapy to get out all the gunk and loosen up my tight sacrum, gluteus and hams.  I thought for sure I had some disease or something- but sure enough Sara, an 18-time Iron Man competitor and top finisher, was correct in saying that by lower body was screaming for relief from the tightness.  On to Physical Therapy I went….

As Abby, the exceptionally qualified PT worked on my trigger points, I asked numerous questions as to how I could feel so terrible when all I was doing was running and cycling.  She answered, “well, if that is all your doing – running and cycling, then yes everything is going to go stick straight leaving no opportunity for muscles to be limber and cooperate.”  She emphasized the crucial step of stretching and warming up the muscles, which I had not been committed to doing.  While I was working so hard at the cardio, I had not taken the time to  warm up my body and muscles to prepare them for the upcoming strenuous effort.  Skipping the consistent and vital warm-up eventually led to injury and pain. Over the course of a year I had also stopped doing planks and sit-ups on a regular basis, and as a result my back went freak on me.

So, here in a nutshell was the answer to the question of “why” my workouts were causing my body to shut down or guard itself – I simply had not respected and honored its need to warm up/loosen up and prepare it for the work I was going to do, as well as I did not ensure a good and strong trunk foundation.  This may sound simple and trite, but truly the step of keeping muscles loose and warm, and working on a physically powerful core are building blocks of a dynamic cardio program.  I had to learn the hard way. However, I believe the lesson I learned and lived is a blessing in disguise, for it led me to my new found love- DEMI-BAR PILATES!

During one of my PT sessions, I over heard Abby telling a high school athlete that football players do ballet barre work to keep their muscles loose and increase leg strength to support their strenuous football workouts.  Somehow, hearing this tidbit got me interested in using Pilates as a means of warm-up and stretching.  I immediately signed up for a Demi-Bar Pilates class, and upon completing it, I felt revived and hopeful. I’m hooked to the point that I will incorporate Pilates in my workout routine for the rest of my living life.  Speaking from experience, and plenty of trial and error, I promise you that Pilates is an excellent method to stretch, strengthen and tone that body of yours.

Here is an excerpt from

Pilates isn’t just another form of exercise, but a method of stretching and strengthening the body. These exercises are based on systematic practices designed to develop the body’s core through balancing, stretching, strengthening, and breathing.

History of Pilates
Pilates exercises are the invention of Joseph H. Pilates, a German born in 1880. During World War II, he was a doctor in an English hospital. Observing injured soldiers confined to their beds and unable to exercise, he came to the idea to create a machine made of old hospital beds and springs, and design a method of exercise which would help the soldiers in rehabilitation regain their strength. Later, when he came to New York, he also brought along this method of exercise. Since then, Pilates exercises gradually became very popular counting more and more fans around the world.

How Does Pilates Work?
Pilates works by combining breathing techniques with special stretches. Unlike other forms of exercise, Pilates represent a method focused on improving the body’s core by making the body more flexible and stronger. Many people confuse it with yoga, but Pilates is actually much more dynamic of the two because it pushes the body through stretching and targets flexibility, posture, and strength.

For Kiki Vale, Pilates is not a substitute for cardio, but instead, a strengthening tool to cycle and run stronger and more efficient in her next Duathlon!

TAKE AWAY FOR YOU THE READER: Besides the invaluable lesson that you must respect the one and only body you have and live in, setbacks in life are not a reason to give up or walk away.  Setbacks and difficulties are signals sent to your brain to change up the program!  It’s time to do things in a different, better and more efficient way as to live your full potential.  Don’t stop or take shortcuts- find the technique to live better, stronger and more vibrant, and then act on this approach; once you do, you will have so much KEFI-positive energy that you will feel fabulous!

In the meantime, I wish you a strong mind so you may achieve/maintian a healthy body!


Kiki is a master interviewer with 25 years broadcasting on Kansas City and Chicago radio. She was a prevalent force at WMAQ & WBBM radio where she was the first female airborne news/traffic reporter in the "Windy City". Kiki’s voiceover work has garnered her Omni awards for Evian water and Coca-Cola commercials. These days Kiki enjoys energizing audiences on stage during motivational speaking engagements, and through writing. Her highly regarded “Kefi-That Life Force” column, was published previously in The Greek Star. She’s currently working on her first non-fiction book. [ View all posts ]