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My Core Rehab Story

Shari Barta in her studio with pilates apparatus

It is still pretty surreal for me that we are here…I have this site, this studio and the ability to share my passion. I have always known that I wanted to help people but how I got there has been quite the personal journey. Here is my story.

Entering Healthcare

My first step on this path was to me the most obvious: I went into healthcare. I became an Occupational Therapist to help people rebuild their lives after catastrophic injuries and illness. The focus of Occupational Therapy is to give quality of life through finding independence in all avenues of one’s life. It sounded noble and fulfilling. I went in excited and focused to change the world.

The reality wasn’t so bright. Yes, I was able to start helping people but it came with insurance and time limitations. It felt like we were just ripping off the band aid and sending them on their way. No one got 100% better. In 2014 I went into private care hoping to outsmart the system. This way no one could dictate how I helped people reach their goals on their terms. For the first time in my career, I watched people get full recoveries. It was amazing.

Becoming a Mom

As I was trying to find my place in the therapy world I also became a Mom; this changed me profoundly. It also broke me. I was no longer able to fully control my ability to pee, no matter how much weight I lost I still looked pregnant, exercising became physically difficult, and carrying my children was painful. My postpartum body was broken. I built a career helping others and suddenly I couldn’t help myself. This continued for years no matter what I did. My second pregnancy did not improve matters.

I was eventually diagnosed with a Diastisis Recti. A Diastasis Recti is when there is a separation along the center of the abdominal wall so muscles no longer attach to the center line of your abdomen. I had no core stability which further impacted my pelvic floor weakness.

Different Varaitions of Diastasis Recti: Normal or No Diastasis, Open Diastasis, Open Below Navel, Open Above Navel

Image: Lauren Ohayon, Exercise for All

Rehabilitating My Diastasis Recti

In 2013, five years after becoming a mom, I had surgery to fix the Diastasis Recti. The procedure recommended for this condition is an abdominoplasty, also knows as a tummy tuck. I went into it hopeful that this would be the turn for the better—unfortunately, like many things it was not that simple. Even getting the surgery set up was traumatizing. The insurance company refused to cover (any/all) of the surgery/procedure, stating it was cosmetic. For me there was nothing cosmetic about it, it was the recommended procedure to fix my core. To add further injury, on the morning of the surgery my anesthesiologist further minimized my struggle by introducing herself and stating, “No worries - we will get you a nice little tummy.” All I wanted was to feel like myself again and I felt like no one was willing to help.

Surgery put me back together, but I was still weak. Rehabilitation became my linear focus: I started weekly Pilates, I took all the pelvic floor education classes I could find, and I did home exercise programs. I became a human sponge for anything and everything dealing with the core. Somewhere along the way, my personal journey became a passion for women’s health. The research and statistics I was reading blew me away.

Here are a few facts I learned over the years that both blew me away and saddened me:

  • Over 25 million Americans are incontinent.

  • 80% (20 million) of them are women.

  • Women generally suffer in silence for 10 years prior to seeking medical help.

  • Incontinence is a Billion dollar industry that focuses on managing, not remediating.

I hated that there were so many in the same boat as me, and that there were limited programs available to help. The idea for Core Rehab was born.

Furthering My Commitment to Whole-Body Wellness

This drive for myself and for creating Core Rehab has led to me getting certified in Pilates as an NCPT, as a postpartum corrective exercise specialist, and as a personal trainer with the NASM. Throughout my career I have always striven to continue to learn and expand my therapeutic knowledge base; I poured all of it into Core Rehab. Core Rehab is a product of all that knowledge, continued education, and personal experiences.

In regular fashion, life goes on as we plug away. As I was on my personal journey, my baby girl grew up and began to flourish into an aspiring dancer. Beginning at age two, she has continued to dance for 10 years and now dances 10+ hours a week.

As the dance hours increased and the level of difficulty climbed, I began to get concerned about injuries. As a therapist I couldn’t help it. I personally have seen too many childhood athletes who have had chronic injuries later in life. Each of them had a similar response when asked about it: in retrospect they wished there was a more balanced, wellness-focus to their training as children. This insight pushed me to stay on top of my daughter’s training. As I started to work with my daughter I noticed she got stronger and had less complaints of aches and injuries. In hopes of sharing this passion for wellness with other young athletes, I partnered with her dance school to offer mat Pilates to all ages.

For years I have dreamed of having my own studio. Suddenly it was crystal clear how the world wanted me to do it. I want to make wellness accessible to all, especially for people who cannot access it. Setting up a Pilates equipment studio inside the dance studio has allowed me to do just that. In a given day I can teach anyone from age seven to 90 the power of wellness, utilizing Pilates and corrective exercise. Being a studio owner has allowed me to pour a little extra into my two personal passions, moms and dancers. I want everyone to Live Long and Strong!

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