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At the core of OsteoPilates

Karena Thek Lineback brings proper exercise technique to those suffering from osteoporosis

Posted: June 18, 2009 8:49 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Pilates instructor Karena Thek Lineback helps her mother Regina Thek do the >>>>> standing move on the reformer machine in her Newhall pilates gym.

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Most people are familiar with Pilates — a form of exercise that emphasizes the balanced development of the body through core strength, flexibility and awareness in order to support efficient, graceful movement. What most people aren’t familiar with is OsteoPilates, a form of exercise geared to help those suffering from osteoporosis in order to gain strength and minimize the chance of cracking or breaking bones.

Thanks to Karena Thek Lineback, of Valencia, Santa Clarita Valley residents who have low bone density can sign up for OsteoPilates classes in their backyard.

Lineback, the president of Pilates Teck, has been doing Pilates for 14 years. She opened her Pilates studio in Newhall in 2000.
“Osteoporosis doesn’t mean that you are frail,” she said.

Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become brittle and are subject to fracture.

“Our coordination, our core muscles and our balance decreases as we grow old,” she said.

Although older women are more prone to getting osteoporosis, anyone can fall victim to the disease.

“Body builders can have it if they took steroids,” she said. “Steroids lower bone density.”

Some people with the condition might shy away from working out due to fear of increasing their risk in fracturing a bone.

“You need a safe workout,” Lineback said about those who suffer from osteoporosis. “You need something that won’t put you in risky positions.”

Lineback focuses on core strength and balance during her Pilates sessions. When an individual’s midsection and balance are strong, if they slip, they can count on their core muscles to catch them before they hurt themselves, she said.

“Osteoporosis is a preventable disease,” Lineback said. “Even if you get it, there is a lot that can be done.”

Journey into Pilates
Before bending her way into the world of Pilates, Lineback danced for a living. She danced professionally for about six years, which took a toll on her back.

“I’ve always had a bad back,” she said. “I danced throughout college. I had my fun, but my back is trashed.”

One of her college teachers told her she had to do Pilates to address her chronic back pain.

All the other dancers did Pilates, she said, so she decided to give it a shot.

Pilates, over the course of several months, helped strengthen muscles in her core as well as increased her torso stability.

And eventually, Lineback’s back pain disappeared.

Lineback enjoyed her pain-free back until she stopped taking Pilates to catch up with life’s responsibilities. Continuing to dance and taking care of a 3-year-old, the pain returned.

“That’s when I decided to go into Pilates,” she said.

Lineback’s interest in tailoring exercise programs to fit the needs of every individual directed her to become certified in Pilates post-rehabilitation by Polestar Education.

She also holds certifications from the PhysicalMind Institute as well as the American Council on Exercise.

Her past studies of kinesiology and anatomy at the University of Utah are just a small part of her ongoing study of movement.

One of Lineback’s clients, a 40-year-old woman, suffers from low bone density and a cracked spine. This compelled Lineback to research the condition in order to assist those she instructs during class.

“I wanted to research and print something out to help her and others,” she said.

Although Lineback found a lot of information regarding medicines for the condition, information regarding proper exercises was nonexistent.

“I couldn’t find anything,” she said.

She finally found some information on the National Institute of Health Web site, but she had to dig it out through its archives.

Lineback estimated that 40 percent of her clients suffer from osteoporosis.

“Your doctors told you not to do sit ups?” she would ask them. Most responded with a “No.”

“They told you not to twist, right?”


When diagnosed with osteoporosis, doctors typically prescribe their patients medicines and advise them to exercise.

“But they didn’t tell them which exercises are safe,” Lineback said. Doctors didn’t tell them much, she said, which she couldn’t understand.

Inspired, Lineback researched medical Web sites and obtained enough information to write a book.

“I didn’t want to just put something from my Pilates instruction,” she said. “I felt it would come off as an opinion, and I wanted (information) from the medical field to back it up.”

Her years of previous studies in addition to her research of osteoporosis culminated in the writing of her book: “OsteoPilates: Increase Bone Density, Reduce Fracture Risk, Look and Feel Great!” published in 2003.

Pilates improves an individual’s core strength, coordination and balance in each session, Lineback said. Pilates exercises can also be adjusted and altered to suit the needs of each participant’s goals.

“Pilates can be extremely easy, but it can also be extremely difficult,” she said.

Lineback’s newest project is starring in the PBS special, “Pilates for Healthy Bodies with Karena Thek Lineback.”  

The special began airing nationwide June.  

“The show is focused on people in pain,” she said. “If you have chronic pain that is preventing you from something — like gardening or (pursuing a) tennis career — the focus is on decreasing your pain.”

The PBS special focuses on the pain and the goal is to cooperate with the body so those in pain can move forward, Lineback said.

“Not necessarily setting you pain free, but at least lowering the amount of pain so you can have more pain-free time,” she said. “That’s the focus of the special.”

The show, funded by American Public Television, will air for two years on PBS.

Even while Lineback makes time for TV and radio interviews, she continues to work one-on-one with clients. Karena’s passion and specialty is working with people who have special needs due to injury or chronic conditions.

“It’s not the only thing that you can do,” Lineback said. “There are tons of exercises. I’m biased to Pilates, (but) I’m a big fan of people moving.”

For more information on classes at Pilates Teck or to order Karena Thek Lineback’s book, visit


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