A Professor, University of Arizona, College of Medicine Chief of the Surgical Oncology Division, executive leadership coach, and former president of the Society of University Surgeons, Dr. Taylor Riall is also a competitive triathlete.
While many would be completely satisfied with a little couch surfing after 10 hours a week in surgery, 10 or more days a month of travel, and countless hours of research and patient work, Dr. Riall prefers instead to run, cycle, swim, and practice Pilates.
In 2016 Taylor began working with Kyria Sabin Waugaman at Body Works Pilates. She had become unable to run, swimming was painful, forget about riding a bike. She had L3-L4 stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) and opted for a laminectormy (surgery that removes the back part of a vertebra covering the spinal canal.) The symptoms returned after the surgery. The Fletcher Pilates® work Dr. Riall learned and practiced with Kyria enabled her to rebuild midline and abdominal strength and return to the pool.
In 2017 Taylor received an L3-L4 fusion that was a game changer for her physical well-being and pain relief. Her Pilates practice was instrumental in strengthening her back and allowing her to run, swim and cycle competitively again.
Taylor specifically notices a difference in her core strength when she swims. A strong swimmer, having learned before she could walk, she takes pride in her endurance. “I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m a good swimmer for a triathlete,” she says. With centered strength, she is able to make her stroke more efficient and conserve energy. She found this particularly useful when racing in Oceanside in four-foot waves.
Benefits of her Pilates practice extend to the physical demands of Dr. Riall’s work as well. “Kyria taught me to stand. I’m a surgeon. I’m standing all the time. I use Pilates to keep my body in line in the operating room. The table may not be at the ideal height” she explains. “The practice keeps me from being sore from work and I can train better.”
While she enjoys practicing on the reformer and other apparatuses in the studio, Taylor isn’t able to make it in to practice as often as she would like. She travels with a guide and a mat to stay strong and engaged while away from home.
On average Taylor trains 12-15 hours a week, including 3-4 hours of swimming. She’s got her sights set on a half Ironman (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run) in September, and possibly a full Ironman in November.
When she is not working or training, Taylor enjoys spending time with her husband, Charlie, and her goldendoodle, Winston.