Interview Series Part 5 of 5: Cassie Piasecki

Exercise, Experts and Spine & Joint Health

(Back for more? Skip the introduction and go directly to Part 5)

The health benefits of regular exercise are well known.  We exercise for weight loss, physical therapy, enhanced performance, aesthetics, and general well-being.  I see patients from all walks of life and each one of them faces his own unique set of challenges to health and fitness. Injuries can pose short-term or long-term challenges and frustration.  It’s easy to feel as if you’re backsliding rather than making strides toward your fitness goals.

As a chiropractor, I know that spine and joint protection are key to avoiding injury during exercise. I look at exercise through this lens and attempt to educate my patients about the structure and function of their spines and joints.  I also want my patients to enjoy the fulfillment which comes from exercising in a variety of ways while experiencing pain-free training.

With that goal in mind, I’ve created a 5-part educational series in which I interview a master Pilates instructor, yoga instructor, physical therapist, strength coach, and a spin instructor.  I want to introduce you to different types of exercise with an emphasis on spine and joint protection.  I hope you’ll benefit from the unique insights provided by these fitness experts.

CAssie piasecki, gritcycle Spin instructor, pilates Instructor, and entrepeneur.

My final conversation was with Cassie Piasecki.  Before the interview, I agreed to take an early morning spin class she was leading. It was my first experience with GritCycle. I had a great time and enjoyed this style of spin when compared to a more traditional spin class. Her class was full and I developed a quick appreciation for what it takes to be a good instructor. Cassie has zest for physical activity, healthy living, and is full of energy.  You can learn more about Cassie by visiting her website. Here are the questions I posed to her and excerpts from her responses.

I read on your bio that your favorite quote is from Joseph Pilates. “ “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Can you discuss what that looks like for you?

Answer: My "life quote" from Joseph Pilates is "Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." It doesn't matter how much money I have, how big my home is, how much I love my friends, family, and career if my health isn't at its best.  I've got to FEEL great and be healthy to enjoy life.  I take care of me first and then everything else falls into place.  

What are the most important aspects of teaching any type of fitness modality?

Answer: I feel that the most important aspect of teaching any type of fitness, other than being safe, is to make the workout less about the physical outcome and more about the mental benefits.  It's easy to push someone physically, but when you can get people to feel a workout in their gut, their heart and in their brain, that's where we can have the most impact.  Sure!  I want my clients to looking smoking hot and move pain-free throughout their day, but I want them to feel empowered, more creative, more confident, energized, happy, sexy, and less stressed.  THAT is what you get when you can tap into deeper things other than the booty.  

What attracted you to The American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP)?

Answer: I become a Holistic Health Practitioner through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners after going through Keri Glassman's "The Nutrition School."  Getting her certification allowed me to gain the AADP's stamp of approval.  After being a hardcore dieter for more than 20 years, I finally woke up and learned how to use food to fuel my body rather than starve it.  I wanted to teach as many women as I could about eating real food and sought out a program that taught that same approach.  Keri sets the standard in this department.  It was key to me to learn from her.  She's now not only my mentor but a friend!  

As a serial entrepreneur, mother, and multi-class instructor, what is your self-care therapy of choice?

Answer: You are right!  I am a busy lady.  My self-care of choice is going to sound so cliché, but it is my workout.  I move my body every day in addition to teaching my classes.  Those classes aren't my workout.  I need "My Workout."  It happens every morning even if I have to wake up and do it in the dark.  These workouts allow me to be better at everything I do.  They boost me up and calm me down.  My other self-care of choice is playing with my pups.  They always take things down a notch. 

What brought you to GritCycle? How is it different from a traditional spin session?

Answer: GRIT Cycle is my jam!  I live a few blocks from the first location in Costa Mesa.  I went in and took a class a few weeks after they opened.  The minute the overhead lights turned off and the blue lights came on, I knew I had to teach there.  I auditioned right way and a few month later was teaching my first class.  It's not your 90's spin class.  This is a dance party on the bike.  It is also a full-body workout since we incorporate full body movement and a weights section in the 45-minute long class.  It's a high energy, mood lifting, stress-reducing big bang for your buck.  

In your experience, what are typical spin-related injuries?

Answer: I don't see too many spin-related injuries at GRIT.  I think it is because we are trained to set up our clients in a safe position on the bike, and we cue the moves effectively.  If anything, people love coming to GRIT so much that many don't take time off to rest or do another type of workout.  They get GRIT-addicted so overdoing it could become an issue.  

Have you had to deal with any injuries or physical setbacks throughout your carrier?

Answer: As an instructor, I'm always over-exaggerating my moves on the bike by about 30% so that people can see what I'm doing.  I make my moves big, so you'll do them right.  I also teach a LOT... both cycling and Pilates.  Sometimes I get sore, or my knees will feel a little funky, but it passes. (Knocking on wood now!)  I'm careful in choosing all of my own workouts so that they compliment what I do on the bike. 

If you were forced to stick with one type of exercise, which would you choose and why?

Answer: If I could only do one type of exercise, what would it be?  OH Man!!!!!  I can't choose one.  I'm going to say Pilates.  I want to be able to move freely and with little to no pain for the rest of my life.  Pilates is something that I'll be able to do forever, and it will keep me strong.  

When you teach high-intensity workouts 6 days a week, how do you protect your spine and joints?

Answer: I protect my spine and joints by lifting weights and doing Pilates.  Both modalities strengthen my core and all of the supporting muscles around the back and knees.  I want to move my body in all planes and Pilates especially allows me to that.  I'm also a believer in the power of cryotherapy.  It works to decrease inflammation in my joints. And, I love a good massage.

I thank Cassie for this interview. She has a unique point of view regarding personal health. Her approach to exercise and nutrition is a lifestyle choice rather than a series of  diets and bouts of  on-and-off again exercise. If you have questions for her here is here website (see her Move the Needle Now program) and Instagram profile.