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Can you believe that we are already sending out edition 5 of Pilates Intel? Time goes fast when you are having fun. In starting up this newsletter, the greatest obstacle I had to overcome was self doubt, really thinking at times that this newsletter would not go forward. But I am glad that I persevered, because it has been more fun than I could have thought, and the response from anyone I approach wonderfully positive. And that is great for everyone, it means a greater variety and quality of insights reaching you, you to expand into the depth of the Pilates technique.
In today’s issue, we get some insight and advice from Benjamin Degenhardt, the nice guy I introduced to you in the last edition. I have already taken his sound advice and applied it to my teaching, and look forward to sharing the results with him in the future.
Then we get to meet Jasmin and Linda, 2 ladies who run their studio, Pilates Complete, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
We have more surprises and insights coming in future editions, so keep your eyes open for them to come into your inbox.
Enjoy today’s edition.
Of course you already know how important daily movement is for you. You read about all the amazing benefits for your body, mind, spirit, and its contribution to an overall happy and healthy life. After all, it’s what you preach day in and day out. But truth be told – are you practicing it?
Joe Pilates said in an interview from 1961: “One of the wonders of the world is that people give their wonderful, complex bodies less consideration than they show their automobiles. Cars can be replaced but your body is the only one you’ll have. Yet not one person in a thousand takes the time each day to see that it is properly exercised.”
So far so true. He further says: “If a person learns to devote a few minutes every morning and evening to the right exercises and proper breathing, he’ll have fewer illnesses and greater vitality.”
A few minutes every morning and evening, every day – can you do that?
I asked this question last month to initiate a campaign called March MATness. I posted pictures of the historical Mat exercises in an effort to inspire people to embrace Joe’s original work. The feedback was overwhelming! I was thrilled, but also somewhat surprised, to hear from many teachers who until that point didn’t think to establish a daily Mat practice or inspire their students to do so.
It got me thinking: did we turn the Pilates method into something so precious and complex that it can only happen within our studio walls, under the watch of somebody else? And, do we consider it pointless to hit the Mat for anything less than a full workout?
Joe Pilates was incredibly prolific in documenting the philosophy and trajectory of his work. His lifetime’s mission was to teach people a way to better health through better exercise, hygiene, and sleep practices, although the physical component remained the most prominent part. Like the aforementioned quote, he repeatedly stated that it was of utmost importance to consistently practice; he recommended at least 10-15 minutes daily.
Of course, that does not mean that more extensive workouts are no longer necessary. But, as far as establishing and maintaining a healthy body, it is better to do a little bit every day instead of giving it your all just 1 or 2 hours per week.
So how can we help Joe’s original mission to get people moving well every day?
Yes, homework! If you think about it, anyone who works with the human body and is expected to deliver results gives homework: coaches, doctors, therapists, and sometimes even the dentist! So, why shouldn’t we? After all, the first home-training manual for Pilates Mat exercises was published in 1945 and written by Joe Pilates himself! He knew that it would take ownership and willpower for you to get on your Mat and actually do the work – it’s the key to seeing real results and “return to life”. Another incentive for your students is that they will inevitably get more out of their sessions if they maintain a practice in between.
EMPHASIZE MAT AND STANDING EXERCISES
We like to “reform” our students. In the studio, it just seems to be the most exciting place to be, the superior conditioning tool of choice – and it was expensive to get it in the first place, so it might as well be used. However, the Reformer and other apparatus were designed to teach our students how to move better away from it, too. They provide feedback, external resistance, and a closed-chain environment, but teaching exercises on the Mat is essential to putting our student to the real test – managing movement and alignment in the open kinetic chain and against gravity. And the Mat exercises aren’t the only ones that don’t require apparatus – Joe devised standing work, too! Taking the work upright will strongly improve the way we move in the vertical plane, and it’s in this stage of the work where it becomes truly functional to our everyday lives. As Joe said: “Contrology is designed to give you suppleness, natural grace, and skill that will be unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, in the way you play, and in the way you work.”
ENCOURAGEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
When it comes to our students, the ultimate gift we can give is a nothing-but-positive, rejuvenating movement experience. Our job is to encourage and empower them to become their own best teacher. Don’t get me wrong, we should take our responsibility to challenge every ounce of our student’s beings very seriously, but we should also steer them clear of frustration. Imagine you are a language teacher: isn’t your goal for your student to ultimately be confident enough to speak the new language in your absence? Here is a quote from the brilliant movement teacher Irene Dowd that strongly resonates with me: “A good teacher gives the student the ability to be self-responsible. Effective teachers make themselves obsolete in the end.”
Now, while that sounds like a philosophy that could potentially hurt the teacher’s income, I strongly believe it has the opposite effect. Self-responsibility and ownership of the method will give our students access to their true movement potential, and progress them to places where they require guidance more than they ever did before. As long as people have bodies, they will need to move.
Effective teachers may make themselves obsolete – but they will never be out of work.
If you would like to learn more about my point of view or get in touch with me, you can find me online at benjamindegenhardt.com. Or, meet me in person: I will be traveling around the globe with 360° Pilates, a continuing education program designed to reconnect teachers of all training background with the original teachings of Joe Pilates – with a keen eye on modern exercise science. Hope to see you at one of these upcoming workshops:
May 10: Portland, OR
In this edition I have the pleasure of introducing two friends of mine, Jasmin Salhi and Linda Erlandsson, who run “Pilates Complete” in Gothenburg, Sweden. STOTT Pilates trained and the best of friends, they inspire to find innovative ways to offer the complete Pilates experience.
For example, in the summer time they move their mat and reformer equipment outdoors to their beautiful terrace and give all their classes, courses, workshops and PT’s under the sun. Jasmin explains, “Our clients continue to train throughout the summer because they don’t have to go indoors when the summer sun shines and you just want to be out, they love it!” And believe me, the warm summer sun is a commodity in short supply here in Sweden, so I can certainly relate to their predicament.
And while that level of commitment is impressive, they really get the gold star for originality with this one…Each month they choose a new artist to exhibit their work in the studio, ranging from paintings, sculptures, and ceramics to photography and even sound installations.
“It’s a way for us to keep the studio alive and give our members something to reflect on, or just to enjoy the before, during and after of their Pilates workout. Even for the artists, it’s a unique opportunity to display their art in a different context than in traditional galleries which has been greatly appreciated.”
Jasmin and Linda met in Cairo in 1998 while working as dancers; they hit it off immediately and have been sharing their passion for Pilates with their clients since 2005. Having been introduced to the method during their respective professional educations in ballet and the performing arts, it was the feeling of strength and balance after a workout, along with the great increase in body awareness that drew them to pursue it as a career.
Linda says, “Before I discovered the Pilates method I just mimicked the movements given in choreography without really knowing where the power or the direction of the movement came from. With Pilates, a whole new dimension opened up for me, it fascinated me.”
We look forward to seeing more from “Pilates Complete” in the future and wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.
Want to learn more about Jasmin and Linda? Well that’s easy, just click here!