The Absolute Center Endeavor Program: Bringing hope, and results, to those with spinal cord injuries (Part Two)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in our 2016 catalog. For Part One please see our March 18 post.

Arash was one of the first to come on board and thinks that Pilates is a great fit for SCI clients. “What I found with Alejandra and NKP was noticeable and fast progress. SCI is a devastatingly slooooow injury to recover from. Nerves don’t recover like muscles do. But with Alejandra it was the rapidity and the quality of the progression. It is truly incredible. And now coming to the Absolute Center has been great because the adaptability of the machines and springs is kind of like this big box of tools that you can use to build on those great results.”

The Absolute Center Endeavor ProgramTheo St. Francis sustained a spinal injury during an ocean engineering exercise at MIT in August of 2013.  After working with Body Wellness Hawaii he came to Absolute in May. “Because every spinal cord injury is so drastically different, one has to figure out for himself what works best for his body, and that includes trying every possible modality and piece of equipment. Pilates has been a valuable way to bring connections to my core. And Absolute Center has been a great way for me to continue what I learned in Hawaii.”

Working with a compromised body does means that exercises require modification. Louise points out that one of the biggest modifications is being adaptable in the moment. “As Pilates teachers we have a thought-out plan and goal in mind. However, sometimes the client is unable to utilize their body in the way our ideas came together and we have to change the plan and start again. We end up using just about every piece of equipment and every prop we have. Sometimes it looks like a hurricane went through the studio.”

The center is hoping to add another instructor shortly: Arash.

“What better voice to perpetuate this work than those who are going through it,” says Katie. “He is the perfect candidate to be an SCI instructor for these folks. He’s well-spoken, thoughtful and athletic.”

Arash had never done Pilates prior to his injury and finds it somewhat strange that he is now in instructor training. “It’s kind of like using words before you learn your ABCs. But I think I can bring some real value to this program. I have such a close and deep understanding of what they feel that I might be able to maximize their results.”

Staying focused and positive

The SCI clients come from all over the area, many making long trips 2-3 times a week for sessions that can last up to three hours. Some are being funded by HelpHopeLive accounts and from other foundations, while others are paying customers. “Our long term goal is to develop a comprehensive program that includes instructor training, equipment adaptations, instructor transfer assistance and financial support for SCI clients,” says Claudia.

In truth, some of these people may be able to walk again and some may not. But there is a constant positivity and feeling of hope that abounds at the center and the three co-owners know that these people believe in the story they are telling themselves every day.

“Many of the SCI clients have goals to become self-sufficient, to beat the odds in recovery, to heal their wounds and to take life full force. It’s truly very inspiring,” says Louise. “And you never know when somewhere down the road somebody could have a breakthrough that opens the floodgates.”

Arash puts it a little more succinctly: “I’m getting out of this damn chair.”

Learn more about the Absolute Center at
Learn more about Arash’s recovery at
Learn more about NKP at
Learn more about the High Fives Foundation at