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Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely LOVE my job as
a Pilates Instructor.  I have loved
Pilates since the moment I did my first mat class way back in 2005 (or was it
2006?). I instantly loved the way it calmed my mind while activating,
strengthening and stretching my body, all at the one time.  I knew then that this wouldn’t be just
another thing I tried and gave up on.  
Pilates for me would be for life. 
I am often asked by people who don’t know, “What is Pilates?”   It is hard to put into a short sentence, but
recently I have settled on what I think the essence of Pilates is.  Joseph Pilates says in his book, Return to Life Through Contrology (1945)
“If your spine is inflexibly
stiff at 30, you are old; if it is completely flexible at 60, you are young” (p16)
And that is at the heart of what I think Pilates is all
about.  It is about keeping our spine
flexible, the muscles around it strong and supple, so the spine can move
freely.  It is about ensuring that we
move in a way that is connected to our centre, so we are supporting and protecting
our spine, always.  It is about finding
the perfect balance, where we find efficiency or ease of movement.   Every
part of our body from our feet to the crown of our head is in some way
connected to, and has an effect on, our spine. 
So yes, Pilates often does involve some stretching, but I
think lots of people do have the wrong idea about what it might be like to go
to a Pilates class.  I went to a special
Christmas class that one of my Pilates teachers put on as an end of year present
for his clients.  We were allowed to
bring someone along to give Pilates a go. 
Several women bought their husbands/boyfriends with them.  It was fun to watch as the guys struggled and
gained some insight and understanding of just how difficult and complex this
system of movement is.  Pilates is
definitely not easy.  But at the same
time, it is adaptable, so that any body (note the deliberate space between
those two words), can do Pilates.  I have
seen children, old people (we are talking in their 90s!), super skinny
people,  morbidly obese people, people
with severe injuries, elite athletes, new Mums, dancers, people who have never
been in a gym or played sport in their lives, and everyone in between, do
Pilates and do it well.
I think that people also may underestimate the knowledge and
abilities of their Pilates teacher. 
Anyone can open a studio and call it Pilates, however there has been a
lot of work done over the past decade to try and regulate the industry to
ensure quality education for Pilates teachers, and in turn, positive
experiences for our clients.  There is a
significant amount of work involved in becoming a Pilates teacher, and that learning that doesn’t stop throughout your career. 
I was filling in for a teacher recently and one
of her clients thanked me about twenty times throughout her lesson.  It was nice to feel appreciated.  I mentioned to her that I didn’t need that
much thanks though, that I was just doing my job.  She said that she used to teach swimming and
knew how it felt to not be thanked for the hard work you put in.  Immediately, I understood what she
See, as a teacher, it isn’t just about what you have learnt
during your qualification.  A good
teacher gives everything to their students. 
Continual practice, planning and thought goes into being a good
teacher.  Unpaid hours of research, analysis, and finding
new resources.  Learning more about the
body.  Building relationships with your
clients, because for a lot of what we need to do, there needs to be trust
between instructor and student.  We give
ourselves phychologically to our clients too, often giving you the last ounce
of energy we have in our sometimes almost empty tank!
It is a careful
balance of knowing when to push someone and when to hold them back.  Knowing what to release, what to stretch,
what to activate and what to strengthen. 
It is about making safe progressions, using our hands, words and bodies
to teach you a better way of moving so that your quality of life improves. 
It can be challenging, physical work.  I am often exhausted at the end of a
shift.  But OMG how I love it! 
Pilates has made me stronger. It has made me more flexible.  It has taught me mindfulness and helped heal
my body and mind.  It has introduced me
to some wonderful, inspiring people.  It
lifts my spirits and brings me clarity and energy.  And that is what I hope I can bring to my
clients each time I teach. 
So next time you go to a class of any kind, Pilates,
swimming, gym, art, whatever it may be, take a minute to think about what your
teacher has given you that day.  A small
thankyou at the end goes a long way to making them feel appreciated, and might
just re-spark their energy or passion for what they do once more. 
Until next time,
E xx
PS – if you are interested in giving Pilates a go, contact me to have a chat.  I can recommend some great studios 😉