Pilates for Parkinson's, Spinal Stenosis & Neuropathy

Case Study: Parkinson’s, Stenosis, Neuropathy

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A must-see for instructors working with clients who have health challenges, this session details Sandy's work with her client of 5 years, Stanley Gottlieb. Stanley’s main challenges involving movement are Parkinson’s Disease, Spinal Stenosis and Neuropathy. Sandy begins by giving a brief explanation of her approach to Stanley’s workout and what her goals are for him. Then you’ll get to meet Stanley himself and watch him go through a heartwarming Pilates session that shows how this amazing method benefits every stage in life. Visit Sandy at Vintage Pilates in West Los Angeles, CA where this session was filmed.

What Others Are Saying


  1. McLachlan 3 years ago

    Sandy, I have tears in my eyes. The synergy your have and the trust he has in you is incredible. His focus and mental alertness bright eyed fully present.
    So many great ways to bring the method to Stanley for him to have a better quality of life.

  2. algocanton 3 years ago

    Remarkable the work of both. Thanks you.

  3. plockard 3 years ago

    Tremendous patience and connection with Stanley. Very inspirational

  4. Luz Alejandra Lovern

    thanks very much Sandy! this video is timeless, the way that you show the loving kindness for help Stanley; remind me myself helping to my husband.
    What a beautiful feeling to help others and share this! Excellent! At this present I have a client with similar condition and I am learning from you today and always. Thanks, big love! Luz

  5. purepilates

    What a wonderful experience to watch you and Stanley tackle this workout together. Thank you for sharing this with us all. It was so very helpful. I have a Parkinsons client that has double knee and shoulder replacements, a fused ankle and has had seven back surgeries (with hardware). This will be quite a challenge with all these diagnoses into one body but I’m very excited to be a part of his journey. Your soothing voice and cues were calming and you can just tell he trusts you so very much.

  6. Kara Wily
    Kara Wily 5 years ago

    I wanted to watch this video, but I found myself joining in. I love feeling the essence of these exercises and I think it is valuable for intermediate and advanced students to take a step back and practice slower and remember what the learning process is like. I was also reminded that perhaps one of the biggest hurdles you got Stanley through was fear. He knew the movement was going to help him feel better and all of your reassuring touches along the way helped him get through on this day. Thanks for sharing this workout and all of your insights.

  7. plessenberry

    Thank you, Sandy, for so beautifully showing us the essence of what we do. Your patience has encouraged me to work with my own mother, who has many of the same challenges as Stanley. You have inspired me to work with her with more love and more care. Watching him stand up with such straight posture was heart-warming. Thank you for your magnificent example.

  8. RoxE 6 years ago

    Sandy, thank you (thanks also to Alisa for making this possible)..
    I wish we could have more of these special cases to learn more. I have a client with Parkinson and I have been searching a lot to learn more about this and neuropathy.
    This was very useful .. Thank You – Cheers to Stanley for a wonderful job 🙂

    • Alisa Wyatt

      Thanks you RoxE, we do plan on bringing you more videos like this one with different clients and watch for a follow up on Stanley’s workout which we filmed recently. You might also find Molly Niles Renshaw’s workout for Parkinson’s useful.

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Roxana – Thanks for your valuable feedback. Stanley is such an inspiring case and I am pleased that we were able to film a second clip in celebration of his 90th birthday. As you can see, Pilates is very helpful for people with Parkinsons and just today I taught 2 more people who struggle with neuropathy. You have inspired me to film more classes with my “special cases” clients!

  9. cercledesarts
    cercledesarts 6 years ago

    What a moving and beautiful moment … Thank you both ..
    What a work ..
    I’m admiring …

  10. sandrita
    sandrita 6 years ago

    muchas gracias, muy buena clase… esectacular

  11. DianaMoore

    I cannot tell you how helpful this has been. I watched it several months ago, but I am looking at it with new eyes. I have a client that will greatly benefit from limiting our focus to the “purpose of the elements of the exercises that exist in the system.” I am inspired to transform my teaching and reach for a deeper place. I very much enjoyed watching you work together. Thank you.

    • Alisa Wyatt

      Diana, I’m happy to say that we are filming another episode with Stanley today and hope to have it available for you to see within the next month or so. Stay tuned!

      • Sandy Shimoda Author

        Diana – thank you for your feedback. It means a lot that Stanley and I helped you see Pilates with new eyes. Being willing to look deeper and learn again is the sign of a great teacher.

        Alisa – It was such fun to film Stanley with you and Jack again. Filmed just 4 days after he turned 90 years old, Stanley claimed to be in recovery from a 2 day birthday celebration orchestrated by his ever-dynamic wife, Jackie!

  12. What a wonderful session..fantastic teaching resource!

  13. Thank you for this wonderful gift, Sandy. I can see why Stanley returns to you session after session!

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Hi deedeepwb, really… The pleasure is all mine. You should know that today Stanley got on the short box and did the hug, tall back, and tree for the first time in over 2 years! The whole studio was blown away.

  14. Sandy, that was amazing! He is an inspiration! I have a gentleman that I have been working with for seven years with PD and I can’t wait to try some of these modifications with him. I am always trying to find different ways to challenge him and his range of motion. Thank you so much! I love the making him count, never even thought to try that! Thank you and I hope we get to see more of Stanley!

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Joanne, I will share your comments with Stanley and work on shooting another video of him. There are other exercises and apparatus that challenge him too! Thanks for your feedback…

  15. Sandy, I just smiled for 45 minutes straight! I have cheek cramps! Please tell Stanley how impressed we are with his work. His concentration and stability were intense! Your modifications are brilliant and proves that everyone can do Pilates if we have the correct intention. So many of my clients have issues, this was very helpful to me.
    Hope to see you again soon!
    Kathryn Schumann

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Hi Kathryn! I hope you are enjoying your new studio…can’t wait to see it in person! I am so happy that this bit on Stanley was of help to you. I will gladly pass on your words of admiration.

  16. Leolady 7 years ago

    What a wonderful balance of empathy, humour and work. I watched the last few minutes through very teary eyes! Knowing what little I do of Clara Pilates and the way she worked with clients, I’ve no doubt she would be smiling with approval.

    Huge kudos to you both for showing how the Pilates method can be applied to the ‘other end’ of the client spectrum and thank you Sandy for always keeping it real. I’m truly inspired!

  17. lghammerle

    Sandy, In reading another comment above, it seems you see Stanley twice a week. Do you find that you are able to vary his workout or does he do relatively the same regimen each session? I have found that older clients don’t like much variety. I think that tends to be the nature of older people, but also they are afraid something new will hurt. I understand that you are have goals to accomplish with Stanley – just wondering how much you can vary what you are working on with him? Thank you so much for this learning experience!

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Hello, and thank you for your thoughtful question. With Stanley, I use our basic workout to gage his fitness level for the day and get him into his core muscles. Whenever he is working from a strong center and has good energy, I add something more such as the reformer, the wall exercises, the breathasizer, foot corrector, sandbag, etc. About 1/4 of the time, Stanley doesn’t even have enough energy to get through our basic workout. However, when I let him do additional exercises he always feels proud of himself and sees it as a sign that he is getting stronger! It is my goal to guide my clients into feeling excited about learning new exercises and challenging their bodies to progress toward greater movement and freedom.

      • lghammerle

        It sounds like you keep Stanley plenty busy with a variety of apparatus. That’s good to know. You both seem to work well together. Thanks for getting back to me so fast!

        • Sandy Shimoda Author

          My pleasure. FYI just by doing his basic exercises, Stanley’s reformer is much stronger each time we return there, even if there is a year between visits. Pilates is wonderful that way – if you improve overall strength, coordination and flexibility, the workout on any apparatus improves!

  18. atmock 7 years ago

    Go Stanley! He is an inspiration and shows how movement really does heal.

  19. N1727
    N1727 7 years ago

    Beautiful example of TLC and applying Pilates to make someone else have a better quality of life. This is also my passion, thank you for sharing this, you are awesome and he is so blessed to have you helping him.

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Many thanks for your comment. Stanley reminds me to be grateful for the ease of movement in my own life and inspires me to keep up my practice so I can enjoy many more mobile years ahead!

  20. smpilates 7 years ago

    I’m in love with you both! Very inspiring. Thank you

  21. joesmat 7 years ago

    Quite a remarkable gentleman.

  22. Martin 7 years ago

    Such a phenomenal example of what this method can do! Sandy, you did such a masterful job here demonstrating that Pilates is about working at a given individual’s level and helping them to achieve a better quality of life, not about trying to impress by arbitrarily giving the most challenging exercises. Just one more reason to love Pilates 🙂

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      Thank you, Martin! Isn’t Stanley incredible? He reminds me twice a week that even these versions of Pilates ARE the most challenging exercises for him because they challenge his specific weaknesses. He always works as hard as he possibly can and almost always walks away surprised at how much he is able to achieve. Love him and Pilates.

  23. presspaws
    presspaws 7 years ago

    This was lovely to see, such a wonderful relationship you have with this client and it just shows how well the method can work to help keep people mobile – Pilates really is a whole body system, whereas the physical therapists/physios seem to focus on one area only. Thanks so much for this!

    • Sandy Shimoda Author

      You are so welcome! I think your comment on our relationship is important. For me, my relationship with my client needs to correspond with my goals for them. Sometimes my goal is to challenge my client to work beyond comfort in order to change their bodies, other times it is simply to build function and increase mobility while keeping my client safe. I find that being versatile as a teacher is part of being good at personalizing your client’s workout.

  24. arlene
    arlene 7 years ago

    Marvelous work!

  25. ladyjane 7 years ago

    That was indeed heartwarming ! Well done Stanley! The key here is to keep everything moving and the blood circulating under the guidance of your wonderful teacher
    Sandy! A privalege and pleasure to watch. Thank you both!

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