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You're Only as Old as Your Spine

Catherine Waters Raymond ’79 shares the secrets to mens sana in corpore sano

On the floor in the Bulletin office Catherine Waters Raymond ’79 is balanced on her sacrum, arms and legs outstretched. Slender and elegant, she holds a perfect V-shape. 

“This exercise is called The Teaser,” says Raymond, a Pilates and Franklin Method instructor. “It challenges us to roll down and up to get the spine moving freely. It strengthens the core while improving balance.”

Both Pilates and the Franklin Method focus on mindfulness techniques to improve alignment and physical function and create positive change in mind and body, Raymond says. “Core strength and flexibility are only the beginning.” 

After years in retail management, Raymond enrolled in Pilates classes and loved them. “I wasn’t using my mind enough, but when I started moving, my brain woke up,” she says.

With her clients, Raymond focuses on improving posture and movement skills. Since inefficient or insufficient body movement leads to injury, even doing what you love can hurt you.

“It’s a shame to spend your life in unnecessary pain,” she says, delighted that her second career allows her to help people learn to move easily, increase their overall health, and have more energy.

“People look and feel younger when they’re not in pain,” she says. “As Joseph Pilates believed, ‘You’re only as old as your spine.’ ”

At Swarthmore, Raymond, drawn to “everything,” agonized over a major, finally choosing psychology. She also took away three pearls of wisdom that steer her success today.

“Ask questions—especially if what you learn conflicts with what you know. I looked to the Franklin Method when traditional Pilates cues conflicted with my anatomy lessons. 

 “Be student-centered—open and in the moment,” she adds. “Plan each lesson, but be prepared to abandon your plan. Teach what the clients need.” 

Finally, she says, “Pay attention. Learn from everyone around you.”