Mike Phillips knows about physical pain.
In the 14 years he spent on the professional snowboarding circuit, Mike broke his wrist, elbow, tailbone (four times), and several ribs. He also suffered a dislocated right shoulder (20 times) and left shoulder (only 18 times). He also tore the innards out of both knees and fractured his skull just once (despite wearing a helmet).
This menu of mayhem, he insists, isn’t bad considering that he was doing airborne tricks more than 15 feet in the air over gaps as long as 80 feet…235 days per year for 14 years. Those prodigious jumps are known in the sport as “Big Air.” Mike did those, along with “Triple Big Air” (three big jumps in a row), and something called “Slope Style,” in which his signature move was a “Front Flip 540 Mute Grab.”
Mike retired from professional snowboarding in 1999. The knees that had served him so well were scheduled to be replaced, a move the now 35-year-old athlete wanted to avoid. On a tip from his mother-in-law, he investigated Pilates, an exercise regimen that he says healed his knees and several other damaged parts. In fact, he’s mended to the point that he now mountain bikes, kayaks, skateboards, and, yes, snowboards, although perhaps not as wildly as he did before his various “reality checks.”
He was so inspired by Pilates that he is now the owner and trainer at The Core (www.corepilatesstudio.net), a Pilate’s studio on Flat Rock’s Upward Road, not far from Blue Ridge Community College. He’s working with about 90 clients in a variety of capacities. In the last few years, he says he’s seen some remarkable turnarounds by the people he serves.
“My whole goal,” he says, “is to help people get rid of their pain and avoid or at least postpone surgery. I like to call in ‘Pre-hab.'”