Pilates & The Symphony: Vicky Dominguez
Introducing Vicky Dominguez Houston Symphony’s Chief Operating Officer. Vicky started her #PilatesStrong body in Boston, MA after her doctor told her that her joints, at 30 years old, were showing signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis. She was experiencing noticeable swelling in the right knee and pain in her joints.
At the time Vicky had traversed the country from Houston to Dallas, Dallas to Houston, Houston to Boston and eventually back to Houston. But Boston is where her Pilates story begins. Vicky spent seven years working at the Boston Symphony in a heavily walkable city all the while with joint pain. Vicky confided in a colleague at the Symphony regarding her pain. This friend, Karen Leopardi, was currently towards the end of her Romana’s Pilates Teacher Training Certification through True Pilates in NYC and completing teacher training practice hours at Smart Body Movement in Boston.
Karen recruited Vicky and after a few sessions Vicky noticed her joint pain and RA symptoms lessen significantly! Karen was strategically applying this dynamic, resistance-based, strength training to balance the load on her entire skeletal structure. Her spine, metatarsals, knees and wrists -- all of it. It’s not magic, it’s a system. And it works! Vicky is proof.
When her home base of Houston needed a General Manager at the Houston Symphony, they recruited her back to Texas. Shortly thereafter she was promoted to her current position as COO at the Houston Symphony. All good things, career catapulted, back home, BUT “September through May about 5 days a week.” Vicky was in heels and “I have formal events about 4 times per season which requires gowns and ridiculously high heels.” So she was in need of Pilates for her joints more than ever, but four years later searching around Houston still had not found a Classical Pilates home like the one she had in Boston.
August 2018 she saw a write-up in #HoustoniaMagazine about Control Studios. Houston’s newest “Classical Pilates Studio” *Proud Smile* She emailed, booked a private and one year later is answering these questions about her Pilates journey that hopefully will inspire you or a loved one to book your private and begin your journey.
How are feeling after your first full year of Pilates Privates & Semi-Privates?
I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I started coming to Control Studios! I just looked through my schedule history on Mindbody and my Intro Private session with Courtney was on August 29, 2018. J I am SO HAPPY that I found Control Studios and after almost a full year of regularly practicing Pilates, I’m feeling more confident in the exercises and stronger overall. Pilates is the kind of workout where you are always learning and improving (at least for me!) – and certainly my almost 41-year old body has good days and bad days – so while I don’t think I’ve “arrived” I feel so positive about my progress and look forward to being able to do exercises that are now just #pilatesgoals! They don’t seem as far away as they used to!
What’s your favorite non Pilates activity?
I really love to travel, but don’t do it as often as I’d like!
Why did you choose mat class in addition to 1-2 privates a week?
To get the most out of Pilates, it’s so important that you do the exercises correctly. While the mat classes here are small and the teachers give great guidance, I love having the individual attention and spending the time perfecting the exercises one-on-one. In Privates, you also have the benefit of the feedback from whichever apparatus you’re on, while in Mat Class - it’s all on you! Mat work is challenging for me, and working on everything in Privates, including mat work, makes me feel more successful in a mat class. Even so, after every mat class I’m always thinking about what I need to work on in my next Private (dang those rollovers!).
How does your career and daily routine in life feel affected by your Pilates experience?
Like many people, my job requires a lot of sitting in front of a computer. Over time, this has had a real negative effect on my posture and we work a lot in my Privates on opening up my shoulders. I try to remember to do stretches throughout the workday so as not to erase all the work I’m doing in Pilates. Mentally, Pilates is an amazing way for me to completely focus my mind. Pilates requires a lot of thinking because you’re actively directing various muscles to do things – you can’t just passively move your body. This is great brain exercise for me and the perfect way to take a break from whatever other stress may be happening in my life at the time!
Have you experienced other Pilates studios in the past? If so, what did you find in Control that made this training suit you best?
I started out doing Pilates in Boston at a studio that used Gratz equipment and where the teachers were all trained the way the teachers at Control Studios are, when I moved back to Houston 4 years ago, I couldn’t find a studio that had both. Last August, a friend of mine shared the Houstonia magazine article about Control Studios with me because she knew I had been on the hunt for the right kind of studio since I moved back. [THANK YOU @HoustoninaMag ! ]
Control Studios is the fit for me because 1) it’s what I was already familiar with and 2) in this method, the teachers have to go through SO MANY hours of training and continuing education, so they are extremely skilled and always able to offer modifications and exercises to help you improve. They really have to know bodies and are VERY hands-on with clients, helping you to position everything in exactly the right place. Compared to the few other studios I’ve tried with teachers trained in other Pilates methods, I like that this method sticks to a lot of the original Pilates exercises in a specific order, calls the exercises by their original names, and works on everything in the original sequences including the transitions. It is more of a real flow of exercises than is the case with other methods. I also feel a lot safer in the hands of “OG-trained” teachers – especially as I get older! (As a side note, I think “OG” might be used about other things in social media, etc., but I’m not hip enough to have heard of it before this! LOL!)
[If you’re like, “what’s this OG thing all about?” Check out our explanation via this Facebook Post: https://www.facebook.com/notes/control-studios/whats-an-og-pilates-teacher/2130440876968421/
What’s the hardest thing about Pilates that makes you want to scream?
The hardest thing for me is that I don’t always feel that my progress is linear. One day I’m able to do something, and then a couple of weeks later I might struggle with it again. It really makes you understand how your daily activity can affect your body and sometimes even the time of day!
What’s your favorite result you have gained from Pilates at Control Studios?
I’ll never have a tall dancer’s body, but the body I do have continues to look leaner and stronger every week!
Do you need to ask us anything about your Pilates journey that would be good to share with readers curious about your journey past, present and future at our studio?
My goodness, there are so many things! I find Pilates to be so humbling and sometimes I feel like I’m NEVER going to be able to do all the cool exercises that you see in pictures, or the person on the mat next to you doing with seemingly no effort.
Will I ever consistently be able to do rollovers? Yes in 5 years! Lol actually I don’t know, Let’s promise the audience a follow up in 6 months.
Why is the mat so hard on the reformer mat vs. the floor mat? Great Question! The Reformer mat has cushion. Which diminishes stability and feedback. We should defer to Kale for a scientific explanation on the next blog about this perhaps; but that’s the high level answer. More squish, less support. Harder mat, more feedback and support making it easier for the muscles to work.
Why can’t I do a smooth rollup yet? This seems so basic but I still struggle to do this without any momentum! We could write a 5-part blog series on the journey to a Roll Up and maybe we just might now that you’ve asked. The short answer is inflexibility in an area of the posterior chain (backside) and a weakness in the anterior (frontside). Your powerhouse is everything above your knees and below your elbows. When one part of that powerhouse is over developed it tries to bully the other less developed muscles around. When you hit the hard spot, the overdeveloped bossy-pants muscles say, “I’ll take it from here lady” then promptly steam roll everyone else! Not cool. Pilates to the rescue!!! We champion the underdeveloped muscles and massage the bossy-pants attitude a bit. This is constant work that you alluded to in your previous answer that can change daily based on activities at work and play that exacerbate imbalances in strength and flexibility. Leg and Back day with your trainer yesterday= bossy-pants posterior and POOF your roll up falls apart.
What things can I do outside of mat class and privates that will contribute to my Pilates journey? Mindful movement and integration of the system. A huge part of this method is integration of this workout system in to your REAL life.. When you sit remember your spine stretch forward set up. When you bend over to pick things up remember your Spine Stretch Forward movement: High Hallow C Curve. When you step up the stairs, remember your teacher harping to keep both hips grounded and stable during Single Leg Circles and Single Leg Kicks. It’s a system built to integrate and remember how to move effectively in real life.
When can we expect more Control Studios swag? J WORKING ON IT!!!
PS Our teacher training starts 9/27/19, this is not a plug for our teacher training, yes it is, of course it is . . . BUT it is also to let you know we legitimately care deeply for everyone’s body that walks in this #ogpilates studio. We will always keep it #REAL -- as will our Mother Ship of this teacher training program -- Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates NYC. Follow them here @therealpilates to explore more about her knowledge and history. If you have more questions about us give us a call! (713) 855-8582 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to learning your story and making you sweat like never before!
Written 7/16/19 Courtney Lindsay