11 Nov

Classical Pilates vs. Contemporary Pilates

I have been practicing Pilates for over 20 years and have been teaching for almost 15 years. Until 4 years ago I was a self-proclaimed “Pilates Snob”. I only practiced and taught the classical work every single day. The same exercises and order EVERY SINGLE DAY. I truly love much of the classical work in my own body. I also love the discipline of the classical order. However, as a teacher and business owner I knew my clients were less inspired by its repetitiveness. I had a mediocre business at best. It paid the bills but that was just about it. The Pilates I taught back then just did not keep people interested or motivated long. I tried everything I could think of to make class feel new and fresh without straying from the classical order, but people still would come then go. I told myself for years, “they just do not get it”. It was actually me that did not get it. I was beating my head against a brick wall. After 10 plus years of trying to convince people that “Classical” Pilates was going to change their lives I was burnt out. I wanted to close the studio and practice my beloved, misunderstood Pilates in the spare bedroom in my house.

Then one day I stumbled upon an IG post by Korin Nolan. Fate must have been at work as she is now my business partner. Anyway, she was doing a move she called the “Flying Plank”. It was a push-up/lunge hybrid. At first glance it looked nothing like Pilates until I tried it. Once I tried her crazy looking move, I realized it was just like Pilates. It had all of the fundamentals mashed together. The “Flying Lunge” was “The Push Up” from the Mat work and “Eve’s Lunge” from the Reformer work. As scrolled through her IG page I realized what she was doing was brilliant and could be the solution to my business failure. For the first time I began thinking outside of the Pilates box and all of a sudden, I saw so many new possibilities. I was also finally able to see my client’s frustration with my old teaching style. I was so stuck on doing it “Joe’s” way I was not willing to bend or try anything new. Because of this mindset I was not providing a fitness program that was most beneficial to the clients walking through my door.

There is NOTHING wrong with the “classical” work. To this day I still practice it regularly however, my business thrives because I do not limit myself or my clients to it. My classes today look very different than they did 4 years ago. However, if you take a second look you will see that almost every sequence or flow I put together has a very strong classical root. Yes, I do consider my work “Pilates”.

Many may disagree with me and that is fine. I do not care. I am confident in my work, I am proud of the content I teach and my business is thriving. Joseph Pilates was a very creative, brilliant man. I truly believed if he were still alive he would continue to evolve and create new movements to adapt to today’s clientele. Do you really think he would keep recycling the same exercises over and over, 80 years later? Today’s clients are very different from his clientele. Our strengths and weaknesses are very different. Adapting the classical work to better suit your client’s needs should not be “classical vs contemporary”. It should be common sense. For me it is all about balance. I feel like I have created a teaching style that is the perfect blend of “classical” and “contemporary” for my studio and clientele. Every teacher or business owner should find their own balance. If you are struggling like I was 4 years ago, let your client’s needs help guide you.

And for heaven’s sake call it PILATES if you want.

14 Oct

October is Mental Health Awareness Month

October is Mental Health Awareness Month. Because of this, I wanted to share my story and struggles. As a society we need to talk about mental health more. Every year, 1 out of 5 adults experience mental health issues. Sharing personal mental health experiences such as mine could potentially help people know they are not alone.
My experiences were better than they might have been because of physical activity and physical achievement. This early path led directly to what I do today as a Pilates instructor.

Since the age of 7 I have dealt with Dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Growing up with a learning disability is hard but to be honest, I am who I am today because of the obstacles I have had to overcome. School was never easy for me. Learning to read and comprehension were my biggest challenges. I developed a stutter due to the anxiety of the other children making fun of me. I hated school, and it was a daily struggle. Many children who suffer from ADHD grow up with low self esteem and struggle with depression throughout their adulthood. However, I was extremely lucky to not fall into this statistic. My parents knew it was important all children experience success in order to develop a healthy self esteem; even if that success was not in the classroom. They helped me find that success in figure skating. Everything I wasn’t in the classroom, I was on the ice. I was a completely different child on the ice. Skating helped me to grow up without medications. Most children suffering from ADHD are labeled as “naughty or difficult” kids in the classroom. Because I skated every weekday for 3-4 hours before school I was too tired to misbehave. It was most likely the exercise that helped give me some mental clarity.

In retrospect I am thankful for my struggles as a child. Though many children are not as lucky. 2 out of 3 children diagnosed with ADHD struggle in their adulthood with self esteem related issues. That is a huge number. My savior was skating. Skating provided a path outside of the classroom that lead me to career as a professional figure skater. Every child has a gift and deserves to experience success whether it be in the classroom, theatrical stage, athletic field, or in my case, the ice rink.

That physical activity has continued to help past my childhood and into adulthood. Looking to rehab skating injuries, I got into Pilates and fell in love with it. I became a Pilates instructor and have seen the health benefits of exercise in the lives of my clients. Getting an exercise program you love is easier than ever these days with lots of online options to do from home, on your schedule. Give yourself a boost and make it a goal to improve during Mental Awareness Month and for the rest of the year!

pilates for pregnancy 30 Sep

Pilates During Pregnancy

I am SO excited to be part of this SPECIALTY class for Dynamic Pilates TV!! The “Pilates and Pregnancy” Workout is what I consider, “an educational class.” It is not a full flow, nor super challenging. I put it together to talk about concepts that are important when working with the pregnant client, and can be adapted to other pilates apparatus, class flow, or mat work.

Exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy, and pilates is a safe and effective mode of exercise to work on core and postural strength and overall strength and mobility during pregnancy.

Most national pregnancy associations and obstetrics guidelines recommend 30 min of exercise most days of the week. ALWAYS A GOOD RULE OF THUMB TO DOUBLE CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR/OB-GYN to double check and monitor throughout your pregnancy, if there is any reason that you should not continue exercise.

If your client is experiencing a pain or issue, have her discuss with her MD, and if needed have her see a Physical Therapist who specializes in women’s health, to help guide her.

EXERCISE SHOULD BE STOPPED IF: shortness of breath, headache, chest pain, bleeding, leakage, contraction, decreased fetal movement, or instructed by MD.

As a pilates instructor we create relationships with our clients and they grow to trust us. We also have friends and family who will seek out our advice. With this said, often a woman may talk to you BEFORE she gets pregnant curious about pilates. This is VALUABLE, I recommend that women start pilates and/or a regular exercise program, before they get pregnant. This way, the are familiar with the exercises, have the initial strength, and can more easily modify and adapt through pregnancy. I know that I PERSONALLY have been made aware of client’s pregnancy earlier than their family so WE can WORK TOGETHER to make a safe plan for her.

It is always good to be aware of your client throughout the class and educate them. I always tell my pregnancy clients to bring water and a snack to class, just incase they need it to maintain blood sugar. Additionally, to pace themselves and if anything doesn’t feel comfortable, let me know. Since women during pregnancy can have higher body temps, if possible, position them near a window, fan, or doorway.

Typically around 20 weeks you will want to limit time in supine (on the back), laying on prone (on the stomach, and may be earlier due to client comfort), and begin to modify exercises. Remember the GOAL is to maintain healthy exercise throughout pregnancy, let’s not cause issues that we don’t need to. My RULE OF THUMB…. even if my client CAN, does she need to. As the abdominal muscles lengthen and other physiologic changes are occurring, the ability to
stabilize decreased, and the muscles loose their length-tension relationship. PLEASE reassure your client that just because she DOESN’T do a full plank or teaser for 40 weeks of pregnancy doesn’t mean she won’t get her strength back after. There are SO MANY ways to modify!!!

OVERALL, working with the pregnant population is SO rewarding!!! It is fun to be part of their journey and keep women healthy!! Enjoy the class and let us know what else you would like to see!!!

16 Sep

How To Teach Group Classes That Accommodate All Levels

Structuring a class to accommodate all client abilities can be tough, probably one of the toughest things for a group instructor. However proper preparation and teaching skills can make any class run smoother.

As teachers we have all experienced those classes or lesson plans that “flopped”. They flopped because only 2 out of your 5 clients could properly perform the “Teaser” on the first try while you spent 15 minutes trying to get the other 3 clients up to speed.

During those 15 minutes the 2 clients that nailed it on the first try got bored and began to become impatient while waiting. So how do you avoid situations like this?

  • Briefly chat with your new clients before class starts to get a feel for their abilities and comfort level. I am not saying have a sit down interview but take a minute. Our studio requires new clients to arrive 10 minutes early to fill out paper work. This 1 minute chat allows me to quickly decide where I want to strategically place them in the studio. I try and put them on a reformer that has good visibility of me and next to experienced clients.
  • Teach in layers. Every “Flow” or sequence I teach progresses in difficulty. A “Flow” or sequence should consist of layers or variations. The first layer is easy, the second layer is moderately challenging and the third layer is very challenging. As we approach the second and third layers I give my clients options to stay with the current variation or continue onto the next variation for a greater challenge. The clients choosing to stick with the easier variations feel safe and comfortable while the more advanced clients are challenged with more challenging variations. Building blocks!
  • Know good modifications! Always, always have good modifications planned for every moderate to challenge exercise! Choose modifications that are simple and do not require lots of set up or lengthy explanations.
  • Keep your cueing simple to keep your class moving. Do not go on and on about a set up of a movement creating long pauses in the class flow. Clients hate this. Trust me, as a studio owner the # 1 complaint I hear from clients about other teachers is “the teacher takes too long to explain things”. Or “we stop too much during class so she can help the new clients”. Keep your cues and set up simple and do not let your corrections for other clients affect the class flow. This is so hard but with practice gets easy and smoother.

At my studio we do not level our classes. It’s just too hard to schedule.

Plus NO ONE ever signs up for the “beginner” classes. We do offer private instruction classes but I honestly feel a group environment can be more motivating for clients. In many cases clients improve faster in a group class environment because their class mates inspire and challenge them to try movements outside of their comfort zone.

16 Sep

How To Teach Group Classes That Accommodate All Levels

Structuring a class to accommodate all client abilities can be tough, probably one of the toughest things for a group instructor. However proper preparation and teaching skills can make any class run smoother.

As teachers we have all experienced those classes or lesson plans that “flopped”. They flopped because only 2 out of your 5 clients could properly perform the “Teaser” on the first try while you spent 15 minutes trying to get the other 3 clients up to speed.

During those 15 minutes the 2 clients that nailed it on the first try got bored and began to become impatient while waiting. So how do you avoid situations like this?

  • Briefly chat with your new clients before class starts to get a feel for their abilities and comfort level. I am not saying have a sit down interview but take a minute. Our studio requires new clients to arrive 10 minutes early to fill out paper work. This 1 minute chat allows me to quickly decide where I want to strategically place them in the studio. I try and put them on a reformer that has good visibility of me and next to experienced clients.
  • Teach in layers. Every “Flow” or sequence I teach progresses in difficulty. A “Flow” or sequence should consist of layers or variations. The first layer is easy, the second layer is moderately challenging and the third layer is very challenging. As we approach the second and third layers I give my clients options to stay with the current variation or continue onto the next variation for a greater challenge. The clients choosing to stick with the easier variations feel safe and comfortable while the more advanced clients are challenged with more challenging variations. Building blocks!
  • Know good modifications! Always, always have good modifications planned for every moderate to challenge exercise! Choose modifications that are simple and do not require lots of set up or lengthy explanations.
  • Keep your cueing simple to keep your class moving. Do not go on and on about a set up of a movement creating long pauses in the class flow. Clients hate this. Trust me, as a studio owner the # 1 complaint I hear from clients about other teachers is “the teacher takes too long to explain things”. Or “we stop too much during class so she can help the new clients”. Keep your cues and set up simple and do not let your corrections for other clients affect the class flow. This is so hard but with practice gets easy and smoother.

At my studio we do not level our classes. It’s just too hard to schedule.

Plus NO ONE ever signs up for the “beginner” classes. We do offer private instruction classes but I honestly feel a group environment can be more motivating for clients. In many cases clients improve faster in a group class environment because their class mates inspire and challenge them to try movements outside of their comfort zone.