Arthro-Pilates and Lupus



North York woman teaches 'arthro-pilates' at arthritis fundraiser

Orignial Article | LISA QUEEN Mar 01, 2012


North York woman teaches 'arthro-pilates' at arthritis fundraiser. Lori Weisbrod is a certified mat pilates instructor who teaches 'artho-pilates' to people with arthritis and other ailments such as Parkinson’s, lupus and cancer. She will be leading two classes as part of the Power of Movement fundraiser for the Arthritis Research Foundation on March 4. Photo/NICOLETT JAKAB

When North York's Lori Weisbrod was just 18 with her future ahead of her, including a planned trip to work on a kibbutz in Israel, she developed a swollen toe.

It didn't seem like a big deal and a prescription of anti-inflammatories cured it.

But about a month later, her jaw started to hurt. She was soon having trouble chewing. Her knees became sore and swollen.

She was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain and swelling of the joints, primarily the wrists, knees, ankles, fingers, toes and sometimes the back.

So began a journey over more than three decades which has included medications, debilitating pain and numerous admissions to hospital. Weisbrod has also had 16 operations, including joint replacements and having her toes repositioned.

As the disease progressed, Weisbrod, who lives in the area of Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue, got completely out of shape. She felt the medical establishment fostered an attitude that people with severe arthritis could only handle light motion exercises in a heated pool.

As she neared the age of 40 in 2000, she decided, with the approval of her doctor, to give pilates a try.

She was hooked.

The slow mat work was perfect for times when arthritis meant she could hardly move at all.

Weisbrod went on to become a certified instructor.

She developed "arthro-pilates," geared to people with conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and cancer.

Weisbrod will lead both standard mat pilates and arthro-pilates classes at a fundraiser called the Power of Movement on Sunday March 4.

With events across the country, the Power of Movement is Canada's largest yoga fundraiser in support of the Arthritis Research Foundation.

Now 51 and a size four, the resilient Weisbrod is now in the best shape of her life.

But it took years to get there.

Being diagnosed with arthritis at such a young age was devastating. After all, arthritis is an old person's disease, right? Or so Weisbrod thought at the time.

"It was very upsetting. Everyone (her friends) was out going to clubs. Everyone was thinking about their future. I had to put my future on hold," said Weisbrod, who recalled one occasion when a woman yelled and spit on her when she parked legitimately in a handicap space.

"I had to deal with a lot of prejudice. Even today, you tell people 'arthritis' and they think elderly."

That trip to Israel was one of the first things Weisbrod had to sacrifice when she was hospitalized.

She began studying at York University with dreams of becoming a lawyer but had to leave when she was no longer able to get around the campus.

Weisbrod then graduated from a college make-up artistry course and immediately got a plum job with Christian Dior cosmetics. But after a while, arthritis prevented her from standing for eight-hour shifts and her hands could no longer perform intricate makeup work.

She launched her own business, going to the homes of burn victims and people with birthmarks to teach them to apply makeup.

Weisbrod also volunteered with Look Good Feel Better, a charitable foundation that helps women with cancer look and feel their best. Arthritis eventually made it difficult to perform these duties as well.

"It was always a transition, always something I had to negotiate," Weisbrod said.

Now a peer mentor volunteer at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre for patients newly diagnosed with arthritis, she has gone from being devastated about having arthritis to learning to triumph in spite of the disease.

"The first 10 years were horrible. I was young. I had to learn to live my life in a different way. (There were) a lot of tears and crying and 'Why me?' and 'Poor me.' You grieve the loss of being healthy and taking that for granted at a young age, as everybody should be able to," she said.

"I have always been very resilient. It has been a long journey. It is learning to cope. 'I have this (arthritis) and how do I make the best of it'."

Weisbrod's Power of Movement classes will be held Sunday at Pure Fitness at 939 Eglinton Ave., east of Laird Drive.

The first session from 3 to 4 p.m. will be a standard mat pilates class. From 4 to 5 p.m., Weisbrod will lead an arthro-pilates class.

For more information about Weisbrod's classes and other Power of Movement events, visit


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