Archive for November, 2011:

kristen4pilates-resized-251“I AM a purist. I swear.” I’m quoting my good friend Michelle Fama, co-owner of Core Pilates NYC, as those were pretty much the exact words I was thinking of using to start this post. I swear! Great minds think alike I guess.

While I can’t speak for Michelle, my reason for swearing I’m a purist is because when it comes to Pilates, that’s how I’ve always seen myself. So when Michelle recently asked me to consult with her on the topic of a new class they offer at their studio, Core 30/30 (similar to a class I teach, Combo Class), I started thinking about the evolution of my teaching and the future of Pilates.

Someone once told me when you are learning something new you first memorize, then imitate those you admire, and finally come into your own. I think I stayed in the imitating world for a while doing everything exactly how I learned it and not really critically thinking. I was worried the Pilates Police (not real in case you were wondering) would come after me if I left out an exercise, or started with leg springs instead of footwork on the reformer.

In time, I began to loosen up a bit. I tend to live in such a black and white world but learned over the years that Pilates is far from black and white. I realized that the Pilates Police weren’t coming after me, and that it’s okay to step out of the box while staying true to the Pilates principles. In reality, in order to survive in this industry, stepping out of the box has become necessary. It’s still something I fight. But we live in a society with lots of choices, constant change, and innovation.

One change I’ve noticed since getting certified in 2003, is the growing number of group apparatus classes being offered. One contribution to this was most likely the economy taking a nose dive in 2007. People needed to come up with creative ways to get and maintain business . There are so many types of classes to choose from whether they be pure Pilates classes or a hybrid of some kind. They range from more classical reformer and tower classes, to jump-board classes that offer cardio, to Pilates Plus type classes.

Is this just a phase or the beginning of something new? Most likely these classes are here to stay. And in another 10 years, I’m sure there will be new trends to talk about in the Pilates world. My guess is even then I’ll still consider myself a purist. While I’m all for making Pilates accessible to people, because at the end of the day I want everyone exercising, I will never compromise myself as a teacher just to be competitive. A bold statement I know, especially considering what I’ve been talking about. But at my core I believe in the classical method.

Trends come and go, but solid teachers are hard to find. So I will continue to do what I can to make my classes fresh and fun, just don’t expect to be jumping from a trampoline onto the reformer and back.

 

thanksgiving

I think I had been living in LA for a moment, when I had one of those only in LA things happen to me. Or at least in my world it was only in LA. I was walking down the promenade in Santa Monica, on my way to my car after work, when this guy and girl asked me if I wouldn’t mind answering some questions. I figured they wanted money, as most people on the promenade who talk to you do, so I tried to politely get away.

But the girl begged for me to stay by saying I was exactly what they were looking for. Which by the way, was someone dressed in yoga apparel. Not too hard to find in Santa Monica, as I’m pretty sure it’s the yoga capital of America. I was still the one they picked none-the-less. And they quickly told me they were doing one of those people on the street things for Glamour. That seemed pretty harmless, so I stayed.

They asked me a few questions, all forgotten except for one, “What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?” I didn’t even have to think twice about that one. It’s hands down going to my aunt and uncle’s place in Connecticut. My aunt’s an amazing cook, and it’s like walking into Martha Stewart’s house, but possibly even better. My mouth is watering just thinking about her mashed potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie.

The other part of the tradition, and the second part of my answer, is that I still love sitting at the kids’ table-even though I’m 33 (which I was at the time). I sometimes wonder “when do I get to make the jump to the adult table?” But my sister, cousin, and I always have fun catching up, gossiping, and being kids, which I feel like we would have to leave behind if we moved those two feet to the dining room table from our beautifully set folding table.

Seeing as how I haven’t been able to make it home the past 3 Thanksgivings, choosing to fly back for Christmas instead, it’s very possible that the jump has been made without me. I however will always picture Thanksgiving in Connecticut, at the kids’ table. I like the simplicity that goes along with the memory, but just the memory is enough (most of the time). I’m extremely grateful for where I am today, and lucky I have such great friends willing to take me in every year. Of course I miss my aunt’s cooking, and more importantly my family, but they are with me in spirit as I trust I am with them.

 

no-television

The other day I drove past a DirectTV van and thought, “I can’t wait to get cable again.” But then something strange happened as I quickly found myself thinking, “or do I?” For this to make any sense, I should give you a little history with my relationship to tv. Forever, I was the one people would ask what shows to watch and when they were on. My sister at one point even nicknamed me, TVguide. I couldn’t really take offense to it since it was true. I knew when everything, or almost everything, was on. When I didn’t have anything to do, or if I wanted to procrastinate, tv was my go to. So it’s been a bit of a surprise to people who know me, and to myself, that I’ve gone without cable for over a year now. While I’d like to say it was a conscious choice to cut cable out of my life, that’s not really how it’s gone down, at least not until recently.

After living in a house with cable (over 500 channels) that the landlord paid for, I moved into an apartment with a stranger. She wasn’t willing to split cable, which was fine, and I knew the day I moved in that I wouldn’t last long there, which, I didn’t. So I found a great apartment to live in alone, but I had to make some sacrifices for a while, cable being one of them. To be fair, it’s not that I don’t watch any shows at all. I do watch a bit on my computer as well as on my television, through Hulu Plus. But it’s not the same experience, and because of that I’ve found that there are many shows I can live without. Shows I now consider fillers.

What I’ve come to realize, is without all those filler shows, I have a lot more time on my hands. And with all that time I’ve become much more productive. In the past year I’ve read “Anna Karenina,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest,” “Wuthering Heights,” “The Help,” “The Paris Wife,” and “The Glass Castle”.  All books I would recommend by the way. Along with reading I’ve become more productive than I’ve ever been with work. I’ve been able to put more focus into the Pilates teacher training I’m involved with. And probably most importantly I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. One thing being that when I didn’t want to deal, I used to just plop myself on my couch, grab the remote, turn on cable, and turn off my mind.

While the decision of cutting out cable may not have initially been what I wanted, it turned out to be what I needed. Now when I don’t want to deal, I have to because there is nothing to distract me. I used to find comfort in watching hours of tv, and now I feel like I’m wasting my time. Something inside me has shifted. Will I ever get cable again? Probably, but I have a feeling it will be a while. I’m enjoying this sense of accomplishment too much right now. Never in a million years did I think I would choose to not have cable.

 

Running

About 3 years into my teaching career, I was living in Boston, and working at a Pilates studio Every Body Pilates, in Belmont. It was clear to me very early on that my time in Boston was limited. I ended up staying for almost 2 years, mainly because of the owner of Every Body Pilates, Kirstin deFrees. I knew that I could learn from her. Besides being a kind and loving boss and friend, she’s an amazing teacher. I remember thinking “I want to teach like she does one day… with her patience and ability to get clients to do what she asked.” In fact, during a review with Kirstin one of her pieces of advice to me was to make sure when I ask a client to do something, that they actually do it. Make their movement effective.

I have never forgotten what Kirstin told me, and I can pinpoint that time as a turning point in my teaching. I credit her for helping me get to where I am today, a teacher trainer for the Equinox Pilates Institute in Los Angeles. I’m in the position to pass on this invaluable piece of advice, as one of my jobs is to make our trainees effective teachers. If you can learn this tool early on in your teaching, it will make you stand out among the many teachers out there. And your clients will stick with you because they will see results. Anyone can teach, but not everyone has the ability or awareness to teach effectively.

What does being an effective teacher actually mean? To me, it means when asking your client to do something, make sure they are actually doing it. It’s the exact advice given to me 5 years ago. Be present as a teacher, follow through with your instructions, and don’t just go on cruise control. In my opinion, there are layers to learning to teach. First you must memorize the information, then you may imitate those you admire and respect, and finally you’ll take what you’ve learned and come into your own as a teacher. This will happen in stages; however, what you can do from the start is guide your clients with effective cueing. Get them into positions where they don’t have the option to not use their muscles. It’s actually a pretty simple concept: Be Present and Aware. Advice that can also be applied to your life.