“The World Health Organization didn't even recognize it as a disease until 1994, but now it's widely known that osteoporosis is a gradual and silent disease, perhaps the most frightening kind of health condition of all. It is defined as a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Those conditions make bones more fragile and susceptible to fracture. These symptoms were once just seen of as part of the normal aging process. But osteoporosis is not a part of normal aging, said Lynne Ellen Kershaw of Core Vibes Studio in Montgomery (formerly Pilates Metro). One in two women versus one in four men age 50 and older have low bone density and are at risk for fracture, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Catching the disease in its earliest stages and taking preventive measures, especially exercise, is crucial, writes physical therapist Sherri R. Betz in ‘Modifying Pilates for Clients with Osteoporosis.’ Sallie Brock of Montgomery had never even heard of a bone mineral density test when her primary physician suggested she have one. ‘I was really surprised to find out I had osteoporosis,’ said Brock, who is in her 50s. ‘I thought you had to be 80 or 90 years old to have it.’ But as Brock and others suffering from osteoporosis and osteopenia are learning, ‘There are things that you can do.’ For Brock, it started with a small introductory exercise class geared especially toward the needs of people with the disease. ‘From that class, I learned so much about body carriage that I started in some group classes,’ Brock said. ‘But I really like this equipment. Lynne has special ways to have us do the class that works with us, and doesn't injure you.’ Kershaw has found that one key piece of that equipment that aids those with osteoporosis is the Pilates Reformer. The Reformer is just one of several fitness methods Kershaw employs to help people with osteoporosis keep fit and also strengthen their vulnerable bones. But she cautions that it's not safe just to take up any form of Pilates, cardio or other exercise programs when you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia. It's crucial to seek a program custom-planned to help those with bone problems. The piece of equipment at Core Vibes making the most waves in helping osteoporosis patients is the Power-Plate, a machine that uses multi directional vibration to provide ‘acceleration training.’ It works by creating instability in the body. With each vibration, the body is forced to perform reflexive muscle actions, multiple times per second. For clients with osteoporosis, ‘Power-Plate is a safe way for them to increase their bone density, and it dramatically increases the circulation, which feeds the bone,’ Kershaw said. ‘The bones are constantly breaking down and rebuilding, and with increased circulation of the blood an nutrients of the body, and hormones, the bones are nourished and replenished quickly.’ That statement is backed up by science. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research concluded that Power Plate training leads to a significant (1.5 percent) increase in hip area bone density (as well as muscle strength and postural control) in post-menopausal women."