The Journey West

An Auto-Biography

I grew up as a farm girl from central Ontario.  My brother and I were fortunate to have parents who took great effort in helping us develop as active and thoughtful people.  We grew up in a positive environment, always challenged by the latest ‘big thing’ of the late 70s early 80s – the big wheel, pogo stick, super slider snow skates, skateboard, roller skates, mini-bike, 3 wheeled ATV, skii-doo, and the good old Ford farm truck.  We fed the cows and chickens, fixed practically everything from fences to vehicles, picked rocks out of the field, gathered hay, made maple syrup and held corn roasts.  We helped figure out problems, solved puzzles, were encouraged to be creative, paint, design and read.  My mother and her mom always had a sense of style. Grandma made us aware of the importance of a good outfit, taught us how to dance and love music and lived in a really cool place up on the hill looking over us, with the polar bear rug. Mom was always shaping her world – redecorating and upgrading the house or landscaping maintaining gardens and putting in new plants and trees. Her and dad (rest his soul) did love to re-design, renovate and build our homes or were helping someone else. I think it all inspired my Mom’s younger sister, Aunt Lisa, to became an interior designer. We all played baseball, skated and played hockey on the pond. Dad helped us build a tree fort with a hatch door, windows that opened and a pole to slide down.  We helped level an area for a tennis/basketball court and put in a swimming pool. Any ways, the point I’m trying to make is that I feel blessed to have a father and mother who helped us grow and learn so much from doing all these activities. A big heart-felt Mahalo Nui Loa to you!

My mom’s dad Clifford James Scott, was a Rugby player for Toronto and was in the military. His parents immigrated from Scotland. My grandmother was a seamstress, who’s grandparents were originally from England. Grandpa Scott volunteered for the war and was enlisted to train as a fighter pilot and his bother as a navigator. He began training with the R.C.A.F. as a pilot flying a Harvard Mk. IV aircraft.

Harvard Mk. IV of the
Royal Canadian Air Force.

He was killed in a mid-air collision during training maneuvers over Tudmore, England. My mom took flying lessons, bought a bi-winged plane a de Havilland Tiger-Moth and took to the skies to honor her father.

The de Havilland Tiger-Moth

She attempted a long distance flight out West. The trip was cut short as she had to make an emergency landing in a farmers field. She flew over the field to inspect and it looked good, however, upon landing the front wheels fell into a drainage ditch, the plane pitched forward and snapped the prop. She was okay, only hurt her pride.

My grandma was from England, had fine blonde hair, which she always swept up in a sophisticated bun. I thought of her as a glamorous and gracious woman. She eventually remarried and maintained the heart of the family with her never failing traditions, hospitality and warm hugs. I miss her so. Grandma with her new husband vacationed at Gerogian Bay and eventually retired there. I recall them sharing stories about jive and swing dancing at the ‘Dardenella’ located at Ontario’s famous longest fresh water beach. The ‘Dard’ was famous in it’s own right with live bands performing and all the latest dancing to go along with them. I learned how to swing dance from my mom and she from grandma. When my brother and I were old enough we frequented the Dard to listen to our generation’s music, there were some amazing concerts had there. My mom and her sister loved the beach and always enjoyed the water. They both became life guards as teenagers and worked at local swimming places in the summers.

My Dad’s parents immigrated from Cornwall, England and established one of the first cattle farms in Brampton, ON. My Dad grew up on a real farm, ours was a hobby farm, with 6 brothers and sisters, who became teachers, a school principal, a nurse, a journalist and a veterinarian. Needless to say I have a pack of cousins. Dad was the black sheep who owned his own business and worked for himself. I have to admit he encouraged us to think like an entrepreneur and find solutions to problems. We also had that farm-like mentality of being self-sufficient, doing things on our own when possible and getting help when needed. We grew up understanding that the hay had to be taken in, that the wood needed to be cut, that there was no quitting until the job was done. We learned perseverance and heart.

At grade school myself and the most athletic boy were always picked as the captains to choose the teams of any athletic activity and we both won many red ribbons at the track and field meets.  Out of all the activities basketball was the one that stuck, or the choices were narrowed by being from a small town or maybe because my Aunt Lisa went to the same high school and was quite the basketball player too.  Either way, by the time I got to high school the basketball coaches had me and my friends pegged for the team.  We went undefeated for a several seasons in our junior and through our senior years.  I was invited to summer basketball camps and got recruited by several schools, one of them offering a scholarship, Fordham University in the Bronx, NY.  I wanted so much to go there just to do something different, but my Mom convinced me to stay in Canada.  I made the Junior National Women’s Development team the summer before starting school at the University of Toronto, were I played 5 years for the varsity blues. 

My life philosophy I’m pretty sure started in high school.  My best friend and I were encouraged in our first year, by a few teachers, to join student council.  Our school went from grade 9 -13 at the time.  I think of it as what any successful sport team’s philosophy should be. Our goal was to provide activities to draw people together, to work as a team or a collective whole to accomplish a shared goal or outcome.  I served on our student council for four years, ending with a term as our student Prime Minister.  Wanting students to enjoy the school experience and all get along, we promoted school spirit, continued the honored and traditional activities and added a few new ones of our own.  We were determined to make school a fun, cool learning experience.  Oh, to be young!

By the time I got to University I was ready to stay in the background, observe, learn and fit in.  Basketball with school became a big job.  Practices every day, sometimes twice a day with tournaments on the weekends.  We traveled across Ontario all season.  We always place first or second in our division, so got to attended the CIAU tournament to seek the Bronze Baby wherever it was taking place in Canada, visiting almost every major University. Name one – I’ve probably seen the inside of it’s gym. My first year we won the national tournament and were the Canadian champions of 1996.  Yeah!  It went down hill from there.  My second year I tore my ACL, had it repaired, was in a non-weight bearing plaster cast from ankle to hip, that hung from my neck when I walked on crutches for 6 weeks. It made my arms and abs super strong.  I cut the cast off myself, as my doctor was on vacation, and started rehab with the Varsity trainer for 6 months.  

As you may have guessed, we were mechanically minded kids my brother and I. As a teenager he apprenticed as a bus mechanic and has since been involved in the nuts and bolts of the transportation industry.  He now is the shop manager and lead refer (slang for refrigeration) mechanic at Thermo King, Toronto, ON.  He’s also a pretty good guitar player, played in a band and loves to play Led Zeplin, Hendrix and more. I instead gravitated towards how we worked, or how our bodies worked.  I wanted to become a doctor.  I didn’t have the high grades to get into pre-med at U of T, so I enrolled in the Physical and Health Education program.  I was somewhat disappointed, so decided to torture myself a little and took some of those pre-med sciences like biology, organic chemistry and physics.  I eventually found my learning groove, graduated with my Bachelor of Physical Education and started graduate studies at the Exercise Science department, in Biomechanics

Mechanics of the body became my interest.  Our lab looked at muscle and joint forces. How tendons and muscles cross a joint and insert on the end of a bone to flex, extend and rotate.  We modeled forces, with different levers, moment arms and angles of pull to calculate resultant forces.  We looked at ground reaction forces on a force plate.  We used light diodes to track body segment velocities and angular acceleration. Hey this was trigonometry 3D!  My master’s thesis looked at the rate of recovery from an injury by using the AMA guidelines of impairment.  I measured range of motion of the injured joint and measured maximum voluntary strength with a dynamometer, over time. I thought I was such a cool geek.  Biomechanics could even used to determine how much force it takes to rupture a tomato so the right packaging materials could be made for shipping! I found Pilates as I was lost in angles of pull, physics, translations and permutations which I started seeing in my sleep.

 It was 1998 and people were talking about Pilates and how great it was.  I enrolled in the Stott Pilates teacher training program for mat work. It was a simple 3 weekend workshop-like training where we stepped through every Pilates mat exercise.  We had to do each excise correctly and then teach it correctly.   It blew my mind.  Here was a simple exercise method developed in the 50s that was applying modern day biomechanics.  I was humbled with the simplicity of it all. 

I heard from other people that the place to really study Pilates in Toronto, who was sticking to the old school, grassroots, classical ways of instructing ,was with Vivian Nickels who had trained in London, UK with Allan Herdman who was trained in NYC by Carola Trier and Robert Fitzgerald who were original students of Joseph Pilates himself.  I had no idea of the significance of all that at the time, I just wanted to understand how all the equipment worked.  I enrolled in Vivian’s Pilates Downtown, Body Matrix Inc. comprehensive teacher training program.  We attended all day training sessions 3-4 days per week for 6 months.  We had to do every exercise correctly and our keen instructors were amazing at making gentle corrections until we ‘got’ the exercise right – usually when you started to shake or finally felt a muscle relax.

It was subtle work that made profound change on how one recruited muscles to do everyday normal movements.  It again seriously blew my mind.  We went through mat work again from beginner to advanced.  We went through all the exercises on the reformer, the stability chair, the trapeze table, the ladder barrel and the arc barrel.  We reviewed how the props, the foam roller, flex bands, fitness circle, stability balls all can deepen or assist the exercises.   We wrote the exam and presented a case study and we became new Pilates Instructors of 1999. 

I was determined to have my own studio and teach just like my teachers had guided me.  It was a lovely goal that never quite happened, mainly because I wasn’t ready.  I wanted Pilates in my life, but I also wanted to go out west.  I discovered snowboarding once I finished playing basketball.  Snowboarding was incredibly freeing, riding downhill in either direction, able to jump, spin and land at top speeds made me feel like I could fly.  I became a snowboard instructor and headed to Whistler for new year’s 2000.  Ah a new life!   Whistler was beautiful, the snowboarding was awesome, the living was expensive and just as I thought I was finding my groove, I went home for my grandfather’s funeral.  I didn’t return.  I felt that I wanted to be near my family and where I grew up. 

I moved into my grandparent’s house on Georgian Bay.  I could swim with a short walk to the beach and snowboard with a short drive to the mountain.  I felt responsible to up-hold tradition and live my life fully from this family home.  To this day I still don’t understand how I ended up working for a framing crew.  When in Whistler I observed the healthiest people were working outdoors. I went out one night to listen to a visiting band, when I met the craziest and most sincere bunch of friends ever.  I started building homes, not right away there was a learning curve.  I started just cleaning up the work site.  Moved on to carrying lumber, laying out the cut pieces, then attaching the pieces, eventually I was building homes and I became the lumber cutter.  The work rolled on from one house to the next.  I cannot count how many homes I helped build.  I eventually learned everything from foundations to roofing, from framing to finish carpentry, from pulling wire to drywall, mud and paint.  Construction reinforced the necessity to think a problem through, take appropriate mindful action to produce the desired a result. I enjoyed the work and felt like I was accomplishing something real, plus I could work outdoors in the fresh air, sunshine, rain and snow. We were active, mainly happy and having fun.  We also golfed, played pool, hiked, fished and of course snowboarded at Collingwood’s Blue Mountain. I like to say about this time of my life that I lost 10 years to snowboarding and building.

Over those years I incurred only two minor injuries.  I shot an air nail through my palm.  It really was nothing, just pulled it out and taped it up.  I had a small triangle truss fall on my head for a few stitches.  Riding down the far east side of the boundary line, when I realized I had started drifting into the next valley over, I tried to ollie off a tree to change my direction back towards the resort. I thought I was super woman for a moment, I injured my already injured knee. But, when I fell off the unsecured 12’ scaffold somersaulting onto my left clavicle, I took time off for surgery again.  I had insurance, and was able to time off the heal. I relaxed for a bit and started studying Pilates again.  I even ordered plans for a wood reformer and built one.  I updated my Pilates certification with CEC’s and got excited again about the Pilates method.  I moved back home to Erin and got a job teaching Pilates in Toronto at a Physical Therapy clinic.  The head PT, Krash, I had known from U of T.  I instructed private Pilates sessions with her clients; lawyers, business people, students and some professional athletes.  In the meantime, at home I purchased my own trapeze table with a reformer and started seeing private clients.  I loved the work but hated the commute to the city.  I was itching to go back out west, but this time with a plan. 

There was a Pilates studio looking for an instructor in Medicine Hat, AB.  I answered the ad and was hired via a Skype interview.  She helped with travel expenses and would pay to use my Pilates equipment in her studio.  I bought an RV, packed up my stuff and drove across Canada to Alberta.  A new life, again!  Eventually, I made my way to Revelstoke, BC Canada’s next favorite resort town.  I love this beautiful mountain town run by passionate locals – successfully resisting corporate franchises from taking over. A place with significant Canadian history where the CP railway was under stress to finally complete and tie Canada together from coast to coast.  Revelstoke has an amazing local history made by steadfast, pioneering people that had the vision and spirit to complete a task that most believed impossible.  One thing construction work taught me is that nothing is impossible with the right people, tools and know how. 

I came to Hawaii because of love. I had lived many years before finding someone I truly thought I could live my life with. It’s not that I had not been in love before, I just thought that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for married life. Meeting someone as passionate about conservation and the environment was what first drew us together. We discovered we had a lot to talk about and a lot in common as we maintained our long-distance relationship. Jason works for the Department of Land and Natural Resources and is a volunteer firefighter. He helps preserve the natural habitat of Hawaii. I had no idea how much the eco-system of Hawaii had been disrupted by European contact to the islands.

After visiting with Jason, I contacted a Pilates studio, Harmony Pilates and Physical Therapy, which had just opened up a new location in Manoa.  I arranged for a TN Visa with them as my work sponsor.  I felt like quite the lucky woman as finally on my travel west not only had I found my husband, I found at the farthest reaches of my journey, a thriving Pilates studio, with lots of instructors making a real living.

I started working for Harmony in 2017 and eventually became the lead instructor in Manoa.  In November of 2019 after returning from a vacation where I introduced Jason to my parents, showed him U of T and where I grew up – we later returned to Revelstoke for a Christmas snowboard visit, where in the middle of a steep pitched tree run when we stopped to take in the view he proposed. So knowing all was serious and my life would be in Hawaii, I decided to became a re-seller for Merrithew Inc., a Pilates equipment manufacturer located in Toronto. I launched an online equipment sales website called the Pilates Equipment Shop to help bring Pilates to the people!  After teaching regular classes 4-5 days per week for almost three years, I understood that clients needed to become more aware that they had learned enough to become more independent in their Pilates practice.  As an instructor we should not be creating dependency but self-sufficiency.  The Pilates method is not a mystery, it follows standard protocols and it even has a manual. If your body actually came with a manual, Pilates would be the maintenance chapter. Joseph Pilates believed that everyone should have a reformer and the older I get the more I tend to agree with him.  There is a lot to learn from the method it takes time to integrate it all into your body. Like yoga it is a practice. As instructors we need to empower people to feel competent enough to practice on their own.

When I realized the pandemic would be inevitable, I researched how to set up online classes.  I reached out to the owner of Harmony and expressed how the current instructors could offer virtual classes for our clients.  The owner believed the instructors should provide online classes for free to save the studio so we would have something to come back to after this health crisis.  I was so disappointed; I knew instructors would not work for free.  Instead of leading the way, showing how ‘exercise is medicine’ and specifically how the Pilates method inherently helps fight infection, Harmony decided to take a back seat. 

I launched virtual classes and reached out to my regular clients to offer them 8:30 am and 9:30 am virtual class every Tuesday and Thursday.  I’ve been teaching these classes every week for a small, regular group of clients since March 30.    The online classes have kept me and my clients healthy, happy and fit over since the beginning of the pandemic.  They have often shared with me how much they appreciate the regular Pilates and how great they feel. Virtual classes are also so convenient eliminating the biggest barrier to fitness – getting to the studio or gym.  Virtual classes make putting Pilates and fitness into your life easy. To join my virtual class click here.

I had no idea that the pandemic would affect the fitness industry so heavily. It has boosted at-home reformer sales somewhat, as more and more people realize the significance of the Pilates reformer and the Pilates method. I purchased my own at home home reformer and now do both mat and reformer work.  I feel both are essential for different reasons.  All of the Pilates work is important and should be explored if you are a serious athlete, performer or want a great, well-rounded workout that restores tight muscles, joints and spines.  Pilates helps you move well.  I encourage you to at at least start with Mat Pilates. I recommend a Pilates reformer, especially if you are mid-aged or a senior – if you are starting to feel your body resist some activities. Regain your flexibility, restore strength and improve your cardio in just 1 hour sessions.

I feel grounded and at peace. I know I am where I am suppose to be. I offer in-home or virtual Pilates training for those who have their own reformer or drop by our home Honolulu studio for a session. We can visit your location with a portable reformer, stability chair and foot corrector within Honolulu. 

Samantha T. Reed-Omick B.P.H.E. Comprehensive Pilates Instructor
Therapeutic Pilates & Recreation LLC,
1541 Dominis St. Honolulu, HI 96822

Published by PilateOn

Pilates instruction: . therapeutic to athletic Pilates & yoga conditioning . improve spinal mobility, alignment & muscle balancing . for every body, athletes, trades persons, seniors, youth and more . . .

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