Walking Tall

One woman’s inspirational journey which would take her from being disabled to being a qualified Pilates teacher, and change her outlook on life forever.
At just 14, Andrea Astley had an operation that would quite literally change her life forever. Diagnosed with a debilitating curvature to her spine, doctors in her home country of Hungary proceeded with the only treatment widely known at the time, nearly five hours of surgery to insert a metal rod into her back to prevent the painful curve and rotation Andrea was experiencing.
Six weeks in plaster from neck to hip followed by two months in bed and a year in a plastic corset, Andreas spirits were low, but she got on with her life and in 2000, met her future husband, Keith, in Brighton. But, after a backpacking trip abroad the growing pain she had been experiencing in her back could not be ignored anymore. Several trips to medical professionals eventually found that the metal rod inserted over 10 years ago, incredibly, had broken in several places.
Barely able to stand for any length of time, let along walk far, Andrea travelled back to Hungary to have the rod removed in another gruelling operation, and faced years of recovery and the possibility of never walking properly again.
It was during her time in recovery, house bound and confined to bed for many hours each day, that she describes the awakening of her spiritual side.
With plenty of time for reading and thinking at her father-in-laws farm, and following a strict exercise regime on cassette from her Physiotherapist in Hungary, Andreas strength of character, determination and optimism shine through as she describes her days there and the healing energy of the Horses she spent time with.
As Andrea’s strength and mobility began to show signs of improvement, her husband Keith one day bought a book home for her from the local library. This book, like her initial operation over ten years ago was to change her life, but this time for the better and allow Andrea to find her path in life and help others to find the gift of strength and movement. This book was about Pilates and contained within it some basic postures that Andrea began to practice each day. To her amazement, she began to see real improvements in her healing. She became stronger and more confident and started to advance in her Pilates teachings, progressing from books to videos to classes and one-to-one sessions.
In just three years Andrea had moved from being told she may never walk properly again to being a qualified Pilates teacher with an enviable physique and posture. To look at her now, you would not know she bears the scars of such debilitating surgery. Spend just a little time with her and you notice her determined energy, her courage and her resolute faith in her mind and body. Andrea has learned to listen to her heart and follow her dreams, and knows the power of her own mind, and the link between strength of mind and strength of body.
Andrea describes her outlook now, and all the wonderful people she has met who have helped her to be in a position to be able now to teach Pilates in Eastbourne.
Andrea, offers low-cost sessions and hopes to be able to offer some free of charge to allow everyone to have access to this life-changing exercise.
To find out when and where Andrea teaches, email her at andreaastley@hotmail.co.uk, or call 07920 715376, 01323 656466

Hannah Rosalie – Wellbeing Magazine

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