Member Profile – Andrea Pantoja

Andrea Pantoja has a wealth of experience treating musculoskeletal and orthopaedic injuries. Since graduating from the University of Sydney in 2004 (in 2006, she added a Master of Physiotherapy to her Bachelor of Applied Science), she has worked in private practices and sports clinics in Sydney and Central London. She has also represented Australia in rhythmic gymnastics.

We caught up with this dynamo who describes herself as determined, empathetic and passionate (all true!) in between patients at her practice in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. Here’s what she had to say…

What does a typical day in the life of Andrea Pantoja look like?
I work hard at keeping my life balanced. I try to get eight hours of sleep a night and schedule some form of exercise (usually running or reformer pilates) at the beginning or end of my day. The the rest of my time is filled with my wonderful patients.

What is the most important thing in your life?
Family and health.

What do you love most about your job?
I love helping people and equipping them with the skills to live a healthier life. Most of all though, I love helping them understand their body.

What is your definition of success?
Living a fulfilling and meaningful life.

You practise Clinical Pilates. How does this differ from Pilates?
Clinical Pilates is not only a safe form of exercise if you have an injury, it’s also used to treat and manage injuries. Once an assessment has been carried out to determine a diagnosis and identify any mobility, strength and motor control issues related to the injury, Pilates-style exercises are used to address weakness, misalignments and movement dysfunctions.

What advice can you offer Elixr members when it comes to avoiding injury?
First and foremost, listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between “good” meaningful discomfort and “bad” harmful joint or muscle pain. Next, listen to your instructors’ cues and focus on learning correct movement patterns and technique. Finally, be mindful in both training and everyday life – become aware of the way you hold yourself, move, lift – and avoid prolonged static postures which leave you tight and weak as this will affect your training.

Which class do you enjoy most and why?
Pilates Reformer – no contest! – for the strength, functional body conditioning and mental focus it gives me.

How do you stay motivated during winter?
Physiotherapy can be physically and mentally demanding. Regular workouts at Elixr keep my body strong, stretch my tight muscles, and calm my mind.

What’s your favourite way to boost your mood?
I attend Elixr 🙂 I have done so for 10 years. I love the healthy muscle burn I feel toward the end of a difficult exercise. Forcing myself to focus on my breath pattern, calm my body and hold my form when things get tough is extremely rewarding!

You completed the Elixr School of Pilates Reformer Course in 2013. Tell us how it impacted you.
I was introduced to the reformer in my first year as a practising physiotherapist and it became part of my rehabilitation for a variety of conditions, including chronic lower back pain. I’d completed several good pilates courses, but signed up for Elixr’s course in the hopes of mastering a broader spectrum of exercises at more advanced levels. It certainly delivered. Katherine and Karl taught everything from the basics through to more advanced exercises clearly and thoroughly, and with a perfect balance of theory and practical. They also challenged each of us to understand the purpose of each of the exercises – it’s that deeper understanding that makes Elixr instructors stand out.

What is the single most valuable lesson you took with you from the course?
That you can develop enjoyable and beneficial reformer programs to suit all skill levels.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
My Grandma Vita Ruth who lived in Chile, where I was born, and passed away a year ago. She walked every day, often up steep hills, and did aqua aerobics three times a week. She understood that keeping strong meant you could live your life and do more things with those you love.

What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Challenges come my way for a reason. They’re designed to test me and have the potential to make me stronger if I choose to embrace them.