As the final assessments are completed for the Spring Matwork 2016 group, I was lucky enough to catch up with several of the 2015 Matwork graduates to discover how their Pilates classes, businesses and studios have been developing and flourishing.
Louisa Hughes-Freeman, The Pilates Studio New Forest.
One year on….I can’t believe it, time really does fly when you are having fun! Training to teach Pilates with Joanne Cobbe of JPilates was the best decision that I have ever made (apart from my children)! I have a job that I absolutely love and have so many amazing clients. It’s the perfect career for me, as I can work my classes around the children. I set up my own studio and am running 14 classes each week with 9-10 people in each class, but I have slotted them into my day to work around me. I’ve recently started teaching Barre Pilates (I also trained to do this with Jo) and I have put on 2 classes each week. I love teaching Barre, it is a high intensity exercise done to music. It’s really tough but you get results quickly and you have a lot of fun at the same time! My friends can see how happy my job makes me, so much so that one of them has recently signed up to train under Jo! I would recommend this career to anyone thinking about training.
Beware! There is something dangerous about Pilates. Could it be one of the moves that should never be taught? Is it a spinal position that should be avoided at all costs? Is it a certain condition which is contraindicated for all exercises? No, it is a thankfully rare species of Pilates instructor known as the Underminer.
The Underminer can be easily identified by several traits. They openly criticise of other instructors and constantly question other instructors’ training history. They can be seen aggressively policing other instructors’ posts on social media, seeking to belittle them. They badger you to join their groups and Associations and try to create elite gangs where entry requirements are years and years of training under their approval. Yet the most revealing aspect is their complete lack of professional respect and courtesy which is frankly jaw-dropping!
The Underminer can sometimes appear when you begin to teach a new class in what they perceive as their territory. This is where they may feel threatened and concerned that the competition may affect their business and so begin to question your reputation. Admittedly we all can feel this way when new classes open, but how we react is what identifies us. If you find yourself in this position, I would suggest meeting for a coffee and discuss how you can mutually help each other by referrals and cover classes.
Social media forums seem to be the breeding ground of the Underminers where they feel it is their right to bully, badger and criticise other instructors.
In an attempt to better understand this species of instructor, I try to look at their motivation in behaving in this way. One reason is the feeling of being threatened by other instructors. Another reason is simply egotistical. They have embarked on a global dominance of the Pilates world and seek to turn all instructors to their elite beliefs and style of teaching. Or is it simply financial? They want to gain as much financial benefit from training instructors as possible by shrouding the study of Pilates in mystery. Benjamin Degenhardt recently posted,
“I often struggle being part of an industry that is trying its very hardest to make more of this thing called “Pilates” than it was designed to be: an approach to physical fitness and health that is inherently and utterly… simple.”
and I couldn’t agree more. This is not to say we never stop learning and our understanding of this amazing Method is a constant journey with revelations unfolding with each client we teach and every workshop we attend. But rather that no instructor should be judged unworthy or not capable simply on the stage of the journey they are at.
So how should we deal with the Underminer on social media forums? Personally I strenuously avoid any contact with them wherever possible. I refuse to engage with them and I believe that clients and other Pilates instructors can clearly see their true nature. If it does become unavoidable, I ask them to have a direct, personal chat with me to discuss their comments and questions and I generally find with a quietly muttered “There’s no need, thank you” they tend to scurry away.
If you are not already a member of the Underminer-free JPilates Forum on Facebook we would love to welcome you. It is incredibly supportive and friendly and is open to Pilates instructors from all training backgrounds. To join please click here
The ability of Pilates to completely change and improve someone’s quality of life never ceases to amaze me. It is a true testament to the life-long dedication that Joe Pilates gave to his method that it can improve and enhance the ability to move and function regardless of limitations.
In my job as a Pilates instructor, I have met some truly inspirational and courageous people. One of them is my client, Sam. I first met Sam, a 40-year-old stroke survivor at Akasha Wellness last November about 8 months following her stroke. I had received a short email from her neurological physiotherapist explaining that she had weakness in her right hip and trunk and Pilates would help improve her static and dynamic posture. As with all conditions and injuries, it is only when we actually meet and see the client that we can fully understand and consider their exercise programme as no written referral notes can fully detail the extent and effect on the individual.
Sam was driven to the studio by a friend as she was unable to drive herself. She walked with a stick as she suffered from a lack of strength and mobility in her right leg with paralysis in her right arm. Both her right foot and hand were tightly curled with a complete lack of sensation. Sam could not move either limb unaided. Due to the stroke, Sam found it difficult to speak and express herself. As Sam had led an incredibly active life, swimming, horse-riding, tennis and running, the limitations she now faced made her feel extremely frustrated, angry and helpless.
Pilates was obviously going to be highly beneficial for Sam. Nobel prize recipient Dr Roger Sperry said that the spine is the motor that drives the brain. According to his research,
“90% of the stimulation and nutrition to the brain is generated by movement of the spine”
Not only would the moves stimulate the brain’s function and improve her strength and mobility but just as importantly, Pilates would encourage her to trust and appreciate again her body and mind.
Using the Reformer and closed kinetic chain exercises has been excellent for Sam as it allows her to push and pull against the apparatus, giving her enhanced feedback and deeper connection with her body. Constant reassurance is needed as Sam has lost confidence in her body and its movement.
After just a few sessions, Sam’s foot and toes began to uncurl. By the end of each session the foot would be glowing with warmth and blood flow whereas at the start it was white and cold. Over the months Sam stopped using the stick and began to drive herself again, which was a huge step in her independence. She was able to now move the leg unaided into positions.
With increased confidence Sam’s progress has been fantastic. Her speech is much more fluid and spontaneous and her gait more balanced. She is incredibly strong in her abdominals and back and each session I am continually inspired by her dedication and determination. I hope one day soon Sam will join in the group sessions.
Working with Sam has been a truly incredible experience for me as an instructor, further proving how Pilates can and does help everyone regardless of injury, age or medical conditions.
This week I found myself flicking through a gardening magazine in a waiting room, (not my usual reading material but there was not much else on offer!) and I came across an article which really struck a chord with me and my thoughts on some aspects of the Pilates industry.
The writer, Monty Don, was proposing that gardeners should be more serious and much less solemn and I could see how his thoughts could definitely be also applied to some Pilates instructors, especially those who are incredibly vocal on various social media sites and forums.
“Seriousness underpins any endeavour worth doing and every life worth living. But whereas seriousness can be worn lightly, with grace and wit, solemnity carries with it the dead hand of the pedant and killjoy”
This is no more true when reading some of the comments and criticisms of those instructors who see themselves as being superior either in their training or knowledge to other fellow instructors. Sometimes Pilates just takes itself far to solemnly!
As Monty says,
“There is a time and place for solemnity. It is appropriate for births, funerals and grand occasions of state.”
whereas being serious in our work shows a mark of respect for the Method, our clients and each other. It still encourages discussion, healthy debate and (fingers crossed) a little humour without producing the fear of reprisal and ostracism from the very community which should inspire and encourage us.
It is important to remember that as human beings we live in pursuit of happiness, of enjoyment. For us as Pilates instructors, this means encouraging the joy in mindful movement, the sense of well-being and health in a vibrant yet serious environment not only in our classes but in the Pilates world we live in.
So the only question now is do I subscribe to Gardeners World!
Joseph Pilates was undoubtedly an inventor and a genius! He was definitely at least 50 years ahead of his time as so many people say. How did he know to create a piece of equipment to alleviate stressed out wrists, fingers, elbows and the upper body from hand-held devices and everyday living? This simple piece of equipment is fantastic for targeting those issues from carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritic fingers, tennis elbow to frozen shoulder.
Instructions on how to use the Bean Bag Roll-up Device
1. Stand in Pilates stance, heels pressed together, toes pointing slightly outward or parallel with big toe knuckles together, depending on the needs of your client.
2. Stand tall, lengthening through the spine, focusing on each body segment being lifted and correctly placed over the one below.
3. Roll up the bag so it hangs just below the dowel. Hold the dowel in both hands straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Do not lock your elbows. Relax through the shoulders having a sense of the arms originating from the mid back.
4. Open the fingers of one hand, and point them toward the ceiling, wrist flexed backward as far as you can. The opposite hand grasps the dowel, fingers wrapped around it, wrist fully extended with knuckles facing the floor.
5. Slowly unwind the bag toward the floor, alternating the hand grasp between (a) open fingers pointing upward with flexed wrist and (b) grasped hand reaching downward in full wrist extension. Maximize the full flexion and extension of each wrist, and maintain good whole-body form from head to toe. Don’t forget to breathe fully in and out.
6. Once your bag reaches the floor, reverse the process and rewind back to the start position. Maintain full wrist flexion and extension on each move, and also maintain the correct body stance.
Note: If the exercise is too difficult, reduce the starting weight, and/or limit the length of the cord, so you unwind and rewind over a smaller distance. Concentrate on perfect whole-body form.
To increase the challenge, stand on a stair or a stool so you have to unwind and rewind over a greater distance. Begin with one full repetition, and then gradually add more weight. Work up to three full repetitions over time.
Here is also a short video demonstrating its use.
The JPilates Bean Bag Roll-up Devices are available to buy for £20 each (+postage). Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
After another amazing group of instructors have graduated in the Level 3 Diploma in Mat Pilates last weekend, I thought it would be great to catch up with the instructors who passed 12 months ago to see how their careers and businesses have developed since qualifying.
Lauren Connelly, owner of Eyre Pilates London
This last year has been a blast! I have had so much fun learning, making new friends and building a business. It has definitely been a roller coaster ride with a few low points but many more ups to make up for it. I have learn a lot about the body, different bodies, injuries, chronic health conditions and other stuff. The more I know the more I know I don’t know and this is really important to remember when you are in the fitness/health industry.
I am currently teaching 1-2-1 Pilates sessions in my clients’ homes all around London. I also teach two group classes a week with about 8 in each which is a really nice change from 1-2-1’s. I love that no one day is the same and the rewards I get from teaching are so vast that I have never looked back. I really enjoy the clients I have and hope to grow my business this year to the point where I do not have to have another job to supplement my income and where I can visit at least 4 people per day.
Contact Lauren at www.facebook.com/eyrepilates
Becky Uden, owner of Uden Pilates
Since qualifying last May I have been immersing myself in the Pilates space, doing tonnes of self practice, and teaching as much as I can to gain experience and build my confidence.I teach in a beautiful studio in Fitzroy Square, and alongside this I have my regular private clients for whom I do home visits.
I have recently started doing office visits, and see this area growing for me. I have 11 years experience in the corporate world, and understand the conditions most clients struggle with – stress & time constraints etc. I offer a 45 minute class (in their board room) making it super easy for them to attend😉 In January I ran my first ever retreat, in France, which was a great success and something I plan on doing a lot more of in the years to come.
I feel incredibly grateful to be doing something I love, and my passion for the practice gets stronger every day. It has changed my life, I am feeling so alive and inspired about the journey I am on.
My aim is to share with people he benefits of Pilates and inspire people to be happy and lead a healthy life.
Thank you Jo for being so inspirational and making all of this possible for me. Pilates truly has changed my life .
Contact Becky at www.udenpilates.com
Pelin Adlan, owner of Happilates
I have qualified from Matwork Pilates Level 3 course in May 2014. After working in an office for the last 11 years and practicing Pilates as a hobby for the past 6 years, this course was the best thing ever happened to me as a career move as well as a life style change. I have slowly started getting studio cover jobs after applying to different studios. Through the studio covers I also got private/ one to one clients. Still being the current full time office worker at the time, this course made me realize how much I need a career change in my life and with Jo’s encouragement, help and support how I could actually make it happen. After only under a year, I now have 2 private clients and studio jobs in the evenings and at weekends. I will keep my full time office work until September and then reduce it to part time to focus on my Pilates career even more.
I highly recommend doing this course, specially with JPilates as it is immensely recognized by the many studios I covered over the year. I also can’t begin to tell you how much I enjoyed doing the course with Jo. Her energy, enthusiasm and teaching skills was spectacular and I still, when I teach, have her teaching voice in my ear as well as her encouraging words to become an instructor. She is also there to help you anytime even if you have qualified a year ago. You will also find that you will get to meet a lot of like-minded, friendly, positive individuals with a great energy. A decision well made if you choose this course as well as JPilates.
Contact Pelin at www. happilates.co.uk
Nimisha Campbell- Freelance instructor
My journey has been great, I have loved every minute thus far and am still enjoying it! We qualified in May 2014 so I decided to set my first class up in Beaconsfield straight away! It consisted of one paying customer and 3 friends, the best £10 I have ever earned! I held the class at my house and it was great.. I did a few more classes on the run up to Summer then everything calmed down and I was concerned I wasn’t getting any clients, only then to realise that things always calm down in August so I decided to take a leap of faith and to kick start things properly in September. I hired a venue for 2 hrs on 2 different days and advertised my classes. Online websites, one paying the rest free and leaflets all round the town! It was a gentle start but I started my classes in September and now in April (8months later) I have 7 classes running In Beaconsfield and all are full with waiting lists! I could easily do more and have new and recommended clients calling me all the time, I did actually contemplate employing an instructor to take a class I managed but I need to find someone first! Top tip – retaining a client is easier than getting a new one. Treat every class as if your best performance and you will reap the rewards! My highlight – getting texts and emails from clients saying how great you have made them feel🙂
Contact Nimisha by email:email@example.com
Rachel Nightingale, owner of Nightingale Pilates
Since qualification, business has grown from 1 class of ‘testers’ to 8 classes – the most recent a complete beginner course. Mostly through word of mouth and local advertising. I have one off 1-1 and 2-1’s and regular weekly clients. This is something I am going to do more work on throughout the year – or when my garage gets converted🙂 For the last month we have had 14 ladies coming along to Netball training – Team Boomerang🙂 Pilates girls coming back to Netball – using my Pe Experience with Pilates, we are taking part in a big ‘Back to Netball’ tournament this Saturday. February this year I ran first ‘Tester’ R & R Weekend – Pilates, walking/swimming, good food and good women (and wine) in deepest Dorset. We have 2 more booked and full for November 2015 and February 2016 – this might be something I try to expand, take further. JPilates Associates /Forums have been a constant and invaluable source of support, information and security.
Very much looking forward to the JPilates Convention, as I think its sooo important to keep learning.
Contact Rachel at www.facebook.com/nightingalepilates
Linda Johansson, owner of Reclaim Body Pilates.
I went straight into the Equipment training after the Mat Diploma to complete the JPilates Masters Certificate which finished in October, set up Reclaimbodypilates ,had a baby in November and am now easing back into it with a couple of weekly Matwork groups in Wandsworth, London. I’m looking to add a bit of Equipment teaching as soon as the baby is a little bigger and I have a bit more time!
Contact Linda on: www.reclaimbodypilates.com
I am so pleased to say that once again all our graduates are working in the Pilates industry. When deciding to embark on a new career path it is always important to consider the employment prospects once you have qualified and one of the most essential aspects of JPilates training is the continual support and encouragement given not only during your training but throughout your career in Pilates.
Last month I attended a workshop with Amy Taylor Alpers from The Pilates Center, Boulder, USA and I was absolutely blown away!
The workshop was held at the beautiful Pepilates Studio near Clapham Common. On entering the studio, I braced myself for the usual greeting from many Pilates instructors of “So who did you train with?” and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that no one asked that question. In fact, throughout the whole workshop no one was judged or questioned about the authenticity or style of their training which I found so refreshing and respectful.
The day began with Amy giving a short bio about her own Pilates training and experience. From the outset the scale and depth of her training was apparent. She peppered the day with fantastic anecdotes of Joe Pilates that really helped to engage with his vision and the man himself. We were told to,
“Get your Joe on”
In other words to become Joe Pilates, to breathe like him, to be strong like him, to travel back in time where bodies were different due to a lack of sedentary living.
Although the title of the workshop suggested the day would be very anatomical and rather specific to one muscle, Accessing Your Psoas, the tagline, Creating True Integrated Movement, truely explained the content of the day. Looking back at the huge pile of notes I made I am astounded at all the material, exercises and concepts we covered.
I can honestly say that in the 6 hour workshop I learnt more than in any other workshop or course I have done. It was so inspiring and I highly recommend any Pilates instructor, when the opportunity comes again, to attend Amy’s workshops. As I said I was blown away……!