Posts Tagged ‘anatomy’:

inspire_1006a

Do you find it challenging to be inspired as a Pilates teacher? When I was going through my Pilates certification program, I wasn’t sure I’d make it out the other end successfully. There were moments that I totally doubted my ability, especially after a lesson with a teacher who I admired and respected. Each one was unique, yet the same. As they say in Thailand, “same same but different”. They were all knowledgeable, challenging, present, and passionate about Pilates. In those moments of doubt, I couldn’t imagine being like them. However, they became my inspiration for the teacher I would strive to be.

In order to get there, I realized a few things. To increase my knowledge, I would have to take lessons on a regular basis because if you don’t know how an exercise feels in your body, it’s very challenging to teach it successfully to someone else. A co-worker told me that Romana used to say “you teach a body from you own body.”

Along with lessons I knew I’d need to seek out continuing education courses as you can only learn so much in 9 months. And I began to teach as much as I could for practice. Bob Liekens, one of my mentors, says that the real learning begins once your certified. There is no better way to become familiar with bodies than working with them. Studying anatomy won’t hurt either.

My teachers all managed to challenge me in a different way. Some moved me at a quick pace, while others were a bit more deliberate. They all had the ability to make slight adjustments that would drastically change how an exercise felt. No matter how they chose to teach the exercises, they were all very present. Nothing seemed to distract them, no chit chat was allowed, and there was always a plan. Most of all, it was so apparent to me how passionate they all were about what they did. I always left with a deeper appreciation of the method.

While my passion for Pilates has never gone away, my love for it has slipped at times. But like any relationship, I’m always able to find my way back. It takes work, and effort though. I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping up with your own Pilates lessons. Make appointments and put them in your calendar. One lesson will give you ideas that could last weeks. If you think your clients are bored, it’s usually because you are bored. After your lesson, jot down some notes about new things you did. I have pages of notes I’ve taken since my certification 9 years ago. Even as a teacher trainer, I still do it.

Inspiration is all around you, in the teachers you take lessons from, and even the clients you work with. On days you feel less inspired, think about the teachers who helped lead you to Pilates. You chose this path for a reason. Remember that inspiration is endless.

 

Sitting cross legged

Do you have an answer for that often asked dinner party question, “if you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would it be?”  Over the years my answer has changed, with a few standby’s in my pocket; Audrey Hepburn because I admire her beauty and philanthropic work, and my Grandpa Lee, whom I never got to meet.  But today, if someone asked me that question my answer would have to be Joseph Pilates.  I’d like to thank him and ask him just a few of the million questions I have.  However I’ve heard he didn’t like to answer too many of them.

Lucky for me not all my questions have to go unanswered as there are a handful of people known today as the “elders”.  While many people studied with Joe and his wife Clara over the years, the elders are the ones who have continued to carry on Joe’s dream of integrating Pilates into people’s lives.  They all chose to pass along their knowledge and keep Pilates alive.  While  I never had the opportunity to talk with Joe or Clara, I feel fortunate to have found Pilates when I did as I’m not too far removed from the source.  Some of the elders have passed away, but some are still very much alive and here to learn from.

That is exactly what I did this past weekend at the Pilates conference I attended here in Los Angeles.  I finally got to meet Jay Grimes, one of the elder’s.  He lives in LA, but for one reason or another I had yet to meet him. It was a pretty exciting and informative weekend.  There’s something so magical about being in the presence of a person who was taught by and knew Joe.  I asked a few questions, got clarity on incorrect information I had heard over the years, and heard stories that were completely new to me.  I learned a lot, way too much to write in a blog.  I will however tell you the 5 things that stood out the most to me, that I didn’t know before:

1. In 1926 Joe picked the location for his gym, which was 5 blocks away from Madison Square Garden, because he wanted to be close to boxers.  I have always thought that one of the reason he picked that space was because George Balanchine of the New York City Ballet was in that building.  Balanchine didn’t even move to the U.S. until 1934, and NYCB was formed in 1948.

2. The double leg pull (also known as double leg stretch) is in every exercise you do in Pilates.  It incorporates a strong center and opposition (a two way stretch).  It seems pretty obvious now that it was pointed out to me, I just had never thought about it.

3. Jay Grimes never once heard an anatomy term come out of anyone’s mouth while he was at Joe and Clara’s studio.  Clara apparently would point to a person’s body part she wanted to be worked and said “this.”  When Jay told that story he said “this” with a German accent which sounded like “dis”.  I loved the description and reenactment.

4. You were responsible for knowing your own program, there was always supervising, just not hovering.  Again, I’m not surprised to hear this, just hadn’t before.  I was taught to do everything myself, like change my springs, put on and remove the box, and know my order.  But I was training to become a teacher very early on.  I tend to do too much for my clients, but I might go vintage and have the clients do more for themselves :-).

5. The 6 principles of Pilates, which I was taught to memorize the moment I stepped into my training over 8 years ago, were published and seen for the first time in a book in 1980, 13 years after Joe died.  While Joe wouldn’t know what the 6 principles are as he didn’t come up with them, Jay said they are still very valid.

I can’t wait for my next elder encounter!