If you delve into the pilates world you’ll find a multitude of interpretations as to what pilates is and how it is taught. There are now hundreds of training schools worldwide offering pilates education, be that in classical, contemporary or fitness pilates. I believe that there is validity in all approaches, providing the teacher works with integrity, skill and knowledge.
In our pilates outlook we are all different and just like in any line of work, those differences will lead to progress, to debate, occasionally to disagreement but ultimately, in pilates, to spreading the word of this astounding method of movement.
We have our own styles, thoughts and ideas that influence our work and become our codes by which we express what we have learnt. These principles develop over time and are subject to continual change but they shape our day to day teaching and thus are important to our current and potential clients, as well as to ourselves.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to articulate my pilates philosophy in a meaningful way and I’ve settled on these:
My 5 Pilates Guiding Principles
They very much sum up my attitude to pilates and how I teach so they’ll give you an insight in to the content of my videos too.
- Never Forget Where Pilates Came From: I’m a little bit in love with Joseph Pilates. I have a deep respect for his lifelong dedication to health and wellbeing. His ingenuity in inventing Contrology, from which our modern-day ‘pilates’ comes from, was remarkable. He was a task master, athlete, teacher, inventor and must have had almighty energy, foresight and self belief in his work. With his ever-presence in my mind I hope that my pilates career can also impact positively on everybody I teach.
- Movement Needs to Be Fun and Varied: We can’t take this too seriously, it’s not brain surgery, it’s simply movement. Yes, it’s intelligent movement and it can have profound effects but we are still only teaching people how to move more freely, with ease, strength and balance. People won’t come if it’s boring. Thankfully with pilates, the number of repetitions is low (3-10reps) and the variety is high so I have the chance to move swiftly and with flow through a workout, throw modifications and new exercises in from time to time and use small props to keep it interesting and fun. Each week is different even though there are a finite number of mat exercises to choose from.
- Create Shapes: I have an anatomy background and sometimes I get all caught up in explaining which muscles we’re using and why. If I hear myself using language that makes me sound like I’m in a lecture theatre and not an exercise studio I often check myself and cue the shapes we’re making instead. Make a rainbow in your side bend, a half moon in a roll back, a fountain in the swan dive.
- Education, Education, Education: My pilates education is incredibly important to me. I experienced superb training by Jane Parsons, Michael Christensen and Bianca Bollisian at STOTT PILATES and more recently from Lisa Bradshaw at Cobham Pilates. I feel privileged to have learnt from these people who are incredibly knowledgable, experienced and generous. Further education will guide my career and I am continually reading, watching and learning from others. It’s also important to me to review courses and workshops I’ve taken in the past as every time I revisit them there’s something new to be found.
- Every Lesson, Every Direction: Each week I tend to have a different theme in the studio, a different focus. Perhaps a different prop or maybe I’m accommodating newcomers, injuries or stress. But whatever the vibe of the class, and whatever bodies walk in, they all walk out having forward flexed, extended, rotated and laterally flexed their spines. Keep it simple.
With these principles in mind I sincerely hope that my career as a pilates teacher and fitness professional will have purpose, longevity and above all enjoyment and satisfaction, everyday.