Pamela Ovens

Taking Charge of Her Health

Sometimes things sneak up on us. When we misuse our bodies, favoring one part at the expense of another, we may not realize it until it's too late. Then all of a sudden, something goes totally haywire. If that something is in your back, you will most likely be in for some serious suffering.

"I was pulling lines and lifting heavy sails," said Pamela Owens, who operated a charter sailboat with her husband on Hilton Head. "One day, something just snapped."   

Wracked by severe, chronic back pain, Pamela was nevertheless determined to avoid taking heavy medications; to her, it made more sense to deal with her back issues the natural way. Over the course of the next six months, she tried everything she could think of to rehabilitate her injury, including yoga and chiropractics. But the pain kept getting worse. Finally, she went to a spine specialist, thinking that a surgical procedure of some sort was unavoidable. But, to her surprise, the doctor said she didn't need surgery. Instead, he sent her to a physical therapist who worked wonders for Pamela before suggesting she try Pilates.

"Pilates is all about strengthening your core, so that it will hold the rest of your body," said Pamela, who was a ballet dancer for many years. "The exercises lengthen your muscles without bulking them up, so you feel lean and strong."

It's been three years since Pamela started taking Pilates, and she continues to go four times a week. Thankfully, her back does not bother her anymore, and she feels better than ever. Though at age 61 she is usually the oldest person in her class, this only seems to empower her more.
"If Pilates can change me, it can change anyone," she said. "It teaches you how to use your body correctly, and it makes you feel more limber. I feel like my shape has improved: I'm trim all over and I feel better about myself."

Good health allows Pamela to engage in the activities she enjoys-everything from weaving Nantucket lightship baskets, to writing a book and serving on the South Island Public Service District Board. A versatile, well-rounded person, Pamela has worked in many trades since moving to Hilton Head 30 years ago. She has made pastries, arranged flowers, run a shop, and chartered the all-wood schooner Welcome with her husband Peter. Her background is in television and radio, and she remembers being petrified when she had to interview Julia Childs during just the second week of her radio career. "Three years later," Pamela says, "I interviewed her again for a Cincinnati TV show, and she came up to me and said, 'Oh Pamela, it's so nice to see you again.' I couldn't believe she remembered my name."

Talking to Pamela, one gets the impression that her life's journey still holds many such twists and turns. Instead of being derailed by a back injury that could have left her handicapped or addicted to pain pills, she made the commitment to stay in control of her health-and therefore her destiny.

"I think it makes you a happier person if you can connect your mind, body and soul," said Pamela. "If I'm going to Beaufort for a meeting, while I'm driving I might tell myself, 'I'm happy! I am a happy person.' If you tell yourself that, I think you will be happy. And if your body feels good, that helps."

Up Close:

Hometown: Charleston, WV
Holds a degree in: Theatre
President of: Beaufort County Historical Society
Mother of: Douglas, a singer and actor in Soho
Hobbies: Cooking, Reading, Sewing
Favorite dish to prepare: Beef Burgundy (Julia Childs' recipe, of course)
Favorite sailing memory: Getting married on Charles Fraser's boat the Compass Rose, then sailing to Daufuskie and staying in the lighthouse for her honeymoon

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