Like all things done well, moving your body correctly is an art.
That’s the philosophy of physical therapist Jonathan Hoffman, who says understanding and mastering your body’s kinetics is no different from tackling a Mozart sonata.
“People learn to use their bodies like they learn how to use the piano,” said Hoffman, an Israeli citizen who was in Missoula on Friday to introduce his physical therapy and exercise machine, which he considers revolutionary.
In development since 2005, Hoffman’s CoreAlign machine, four of which are now in use at Alpine Physical Therapy, doesn’t look like a therapy or exercise breakthrough.
But Alpine therapists and Hoffman say the machine, featuring two independent foot tracks and a workout ladder, will not only speed up recovery for all sorts of people who’ve suffered injuries, but be used by professional and amateur athletes alike.
How certain are they?
“This has all the potential to exceed pilates” in popularity and effectiveness, said Hoffman, who believes it will exceed the popular program in its cardio benefits, movement, balance, healing, breathing and even digestion.
Hoffman, who sold the CoreAlign technology to Balanced Body Pilates, a major pilates marketing firm, is in Missoula to introduce the machine and train Alpine physical therapists on the 200-odd exercises already developed for it.
Alpine, located in the PEAK Fitness and Wellness Center just south of Missoula on U.S. Highway 93, is one of the first American physical therapy centers to adopt the new machine into its therapy programs. CoreAlign went into production last month.
Alpine therapist Samantha Schoeneman first ran across the CoreAlign at a trade show last year. In August 2009, she became a CoreAlign master instructor in California, and brought a machine back with her.
Having helped her clients for six months with it, Schoeneman, one of a dozen master instructors in the country, said it will speed up recovery from all sorts of injuries, and be a huge hit with athletes – even the most healthy and accomplished ones.
“Ideally, I want to get this method out there to increase their performance and efficiency, whether it’s people playing with their children or playing high-level tennis,” she said.
“I’ll make Roger Federer,” said Hoffman confidently, “a better tennis player.”
The individual foot tracks can be adjusted for resistance, and working the body in a standing position, which the CoreAlign demands, trains the body to work in harmony and balance in a way that isolation exercises don’t.
“The tracks enable the body to work the way it’s supposed to work,” said Brent Dodge, a physical therapist and the owner of Alpine. “For the people who are rehabilitating, we’re training their bodies for movements that are harmonious.”
Even the simplest exercise demands total concentration, balance, posture, and perfect and fluid movement. This, a reporter found out after trying it and failing numerous times before finding his rhythm.
Don’t expect to find this equipment in stores. Because the exercises must be performed with perfect precision to be beneficial, Balanced Body Pilates is only shopping them to places that employ physical therapists schooled on the CoreAlign’s techniques.
Because the machine is so new, very little has been written about it, and it has no official endorsements. Nor are there any scientific studies on its effectiveness.
All that is coming, said Hoffman, and he welcomes even the most ardent skeptics.
“The concepts are avant garde, and this is coming from outside the establishment,” he said. “The question is: Will the establishment embrace it? We believe they will because this works.”
Reporter Jamie Kelly at 523-5254 or at email@example.com.