Musings for Today

My journey into Pilates did not begin with an injury. I have been very lucky in that for most of my life, I have been injury free. I once fell off a stage into the orchestra pit but managed to not only get up and carry on dancing but had no ill effects from it.

My journey began in jazz class one afternoon in 1982. I had just graduated from a four year performing arts program and was doing the rounds of auditions and daily classes at Danceworks in London. My teacher Ricardo Sibelo, would always tease me and tell me I had no core. I had no idea what he was talking about but was getting pretty fed up with the remarks. What Ricardo didn’t realise was that I am half Sikh and my middle name is Kaur. I thought this was what he was talking about. Thats how much we knew about the core in those days.

Ricardo began to sing the praises of a fellow dancer who had just opened up a “pilates” studio and he thought I should go and try these amazing machines. Off I went to Alan Herdman Studios.

As I entered Alan’s studio, he was seated at his desk right at the other side of the studio and it seemed like a long walk towards him. Alan’s eyes never left me. When I reached the desk he said he knew how to work with my “willowy” body. In the few seconds it took me to reach his side, Alan had done what we call in todays Pilates language,a postural analysis on me and proclaimed me to be hypermobile.

Working with Alan and his instructors was a whole load of fun. I don’t remember anyone telling me how to breathe. No one ever “fixed” my alignment. I don’t think I ever modified anything. I was just thrown onto the machines and shown what to do. I had never felt so amazing in my life.

My whole body felt lengthened and so supple. The effects on my dancing were amazing.I could turn better, jump higher and lift my legs above my head. Which I have to say I could do before, but now I could do it without strain! I felt so liberated from my “old” body.

I left Pilates behind when I arrived in the USA in 1986. I wasn’t living in New york City or else I may have continued. But here in the Midwest, it was all about Aerobics. I loved it though and went on to become a certified group exercise leader. What my clients didn’t know then was that the floor exercises they were doing was Pilates.

It took me a while to realise that there were certification programs out there and by the time I finished one of them it was 2006. So when people ask how long I’ve been ceritifed, four years doesn’t sound like a lot. But 28 years of knowing and understanding it does. I have since become ceritfied by Polestar, Basi, Physicalmind and the PMA. They all have something wonderful to offer and I have learned so much in a (relatively) short space of time.

I am often asked which certification program is the best out there.This is a hard one to answer. I believe they are all good. They are all trying to teach you the same thing. Pilates. The difference lies in the company’s philosophy.

For those looking into Polestar, if you want a more scientific approach and a physical therapy take, this is the one for you.If you thrive on charts and challenges and progressions of your client, this program will give you all those tools.

Basi’s program is brilliant in its simplicity and attention to detail. There are no modificatons, you are expected to practice until you achieve the exercise and then expect your client to do the same. This was my personal favorite. I learned how to be precise in my movement and have “economy of movement” which is what pilates is all about.

I did a lot of Stott many years ago and feel unable to give a true opinion of this program since I believe it has changed considerably since then. However, I know it to be superb.

PhysicalMind was once on the right track but I feel has been derailed in recent years. The best thing about PhysicalMInd is the prepilates concept of the fundamentals.

Certifications are really your starting point. They give you enough information to begin your career. The rest is then up to you.For the first few years of teaching, you may stick very closely to what your program has taught you. But as you venture forth and attend workshops and conferences, you will change. You will grow and deepen your knowledge. You will begin to develop your own style and philosophy and this is as it should be.

What I do recommend though, is to try and attend workshops given by the “elders”. These are teachers who trained directly with Joseph Pilates , like Lolita San Miguel, or are but one removed from him. Don’t go to their workshops to gain choreography and new exercises. You will be disappointed. Go and listen to their stories. What a wealth of information lies behind the recounting of their journey to where they stand today. Listen and learn from their experiences. Do it before they are no longer with us.

Keep learning, but most of all keep practicing your Pilates as much as you can. As busy instructors with a full load of clients, this can be something hard to fit in. But working on yourself is important to your craft.Finding a balance between teaching and time for yourself will prevent burn out.

Have a good Pilates day.


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