We talked to a few of our teachers about their practice, the meaning of their teaching work and what they’ve been up to during this period of quarantine and social distancing.
What is your hardest exercise (or the one you skip the most…)?
Corkscrew Flat (Corkscrew prep): this exercise is my nemesis because of my tight legs, low back and shoulders! In a weird way, my body prefers the full version of corkscrew, which is an overhead exercise (inversion). Ask me to throw my legs over my head, twist my hips, and roll down one side of my spine? Easy! Ask me to hold two straight legs above my hips with a neutral spine and an open chest? Impossible!
My hardest exercise is teaser. I wouldn’t say that I skip it often, but I also stay right where I am comfortable and haven’t seen much progress with it since I began teaching over 3 years ago. Part of what makes it so difficult for me is that my hips and hamstrings are often tight from running.
Reformer: Short Box Series – So difficult to execute correctly, but so essential.
Mat: Side Kicks – So needed for my body…and probably why I don’t like it!
Pilates- Oh my gosh! Climb a tree hands down! Many times I simply have to keep working all the skills that make that exercise come together. My corrective teacher homework has been to practice pumping and build my single leg pumping. It’s hard. And I agree with Kiley about the Side Kicks series. GYROKINESIS(R) —definitely the Kneeling Sacrum Pulses- a part of the Back Strengthener grouping of exercises. Kneeling work for me is inconsistent with the progress. I have weeks where I can kneel comfortably and actually move there and then weeks where I can’t even work well in that setup. Tricky…but we are a work in progress, yes?
I always try to spend more time with the exercises that I have the most difficulty with, slowing them down or breaking them into pieces that will build more strength and stability. As far as physical difficulty, I’d say single leg squats on the Cadillac with the push through bar. As far as physical limitations, I can always use more work with anything that takes me into extension.
I skip Neck Pull and to be honest, used to skip Roll Ups quite often. I would use the excuse of having a longer torso making it “more difficult” for me. Which, sure, there may be truth in that, but I’ve been working to strengthen the deep work of my abdominals and spinal articulation versus working from my more superficial muscles and hip flexors gripping. Rolls Ups have gotten way more deep and smooth, so Neck Pull is my next goal: keeping that length in the neck while working on reach and anchor in legs.
What does the Method you teach mean to you? Pilates, Bodywork, Gyrokinesis
Pilates is invaluable to me for the way it has helped correct the years of abuse I put my body through from working on a ranch. I hate to think of how my body would be today had I not discovered Pilates! In Joe’s words, you are only as young as your spine is flexible. Thanks to Pilates my spine has gotten younger!
For me, the Pilates method is the best way I have found to reconnect with my animal self, for lack of a better term. I often consider how my body is designed to move and function from a biomechanical standpoint without the trappings of any social concept around how I should hold myself or move. Pilates makes a lot of sense in my body – the idea of all of our movement coming from a strong and open center that facilitates healthy and full breathing is one that resonates deeply with me, and it’s one that underlies all of the work that I do with clients inside and outside of our studio.
I continuously find more reasons why I love Pilates. It started as and continues to be my favorite way to exercise. It has also become my peace…something to really focus on when the rest of my life is hectic.
Oh my! What a loaded question. To simplify- I teach first because I love to share. It energizes me and provides a life of contribution and service. I feel that my work heals both myself and those that receive it. Both as a teacher and as an owner I feel this. Doing the work in my body began as a journey to find pain free joy in moving. Now about 20 years later and still doing the work of sessions of Pilates and lately GYROKINESIS(R) and Bodywork allow me entry into rooms of possibility, strength, energy, openness, within me.
Pilates practice is a true miracle tool that doesn’t only sculpt your body but it also clears your mind and gives you energy and inner serenity.
I find that Structural Integration and Pilates go hand in hand. With SI, we are using soft tissue techniques to restore and improve alignment along the vertical axis of gravity to give our bodies more lift and allow the bones to move more freely. With Pilates, we are using Mat and apparatus exercises to educate our bodies in movement to build and maintain a foundation that will support that optimal alignment. Both help to increase our spatial awareness and sensitivity to the rhythms and tensional relationships within our bodies, which leads to free and relaxed movement.
I love Pilates because it is a somatic method that acts like a detective. It keeps my movement accountable in healthy authentic patterns. As a dancer, I go for the bigger movement picture often and in the past have sacrificed stability. Pilates helps me keep rooted in healthy movement ways, along with Yoga, and seeing Bodyworkers. Gotta love the whole movement minded community in Pittsburgh! I do view Pilates as a way of bodywork to balance out effort in the body when I need more restoration from dancing, and when I need to integrate full body connection, I use it as a way to increase the stability while challenging load and range to increase and deepen the journey of the practice. I love training in Gyrokinesis with Lesley and know in my heart that it is just a matter of time until I begin that teaching and movement journey in more depth as well!
A teacher is ultimately a student first and forever. Have you taken any new classes or explored something during the Quarantine that has filled you with joy? If so, what was it?
ROLLOLOGY! During quarantine, I became certified to teach the ROLLOLOGY method. It has been a wonderful compliment to my Pilates practice and helped spice up my online teaching by giving my clients something new and different to do at home while still maintaining the principles of Pilates.
To be totally honest, I have leaned into my running practice during quarantine. For the first time ever, I committed to a run streak (where you run every day for a set amount of days – for me, it’s at least one mile a day for 41 days… I am currently on Day 32). Because of my Pilates and my yoga practice, I knew that my body was strong enough to sustain a running practice this vigorous. I have had many days where the heat and humidity have been oppressive, where I have been mentally exhausted from the weight of the world and the changing conditions of my life, where I have been physically exhausted from all of the running on top of my day to day duties and activities. But more often than not, I am able to tune into my form, consider the position of my spine, consider the position of my pelvis, and consider the movements of my hips, glutes, ribcage, and arms as I run despite all of these outside forces, and I am able to find a flow. This to me is one of the greatest benefits of having a personal Pilates practice and teaching the method – I am able to take all of the work with me and apply it directly to a high impact sport that I love, and to do so without injury.
Education during “stay at home”:
10 Week Anatomy Webinar with Sean Gallagher
12 Hour “Project Return” workshop with Dana Santi Pilates – This workshop intends to bring back Joe’s work to Pilates, and only Joe’s. It has been eye opening how his work has been changed over the years, and how his exact instructions make so much more sense and feel so different! By diving into his book, “Return To Life and Your Health” and really researching what was written, Dana and her team hope to bring the Pilates industry back to its roots by recognizing and practicing JOE’S principles and purposes of his mat exercises.
I have taken a good bit of Kathy Ross Nash’s one hour workshops whenever I can fit it in. She is amazing, funny and I love how she helps you to understand the deeper meaning behind the exercises in Pilates. Online sessions have helped me to get into a regular lesson schedule again, I take from teachers in Cincinnati and sometimes D.C. so not doing the commute there is so cool to move my practice forward again.
During the quarantine, Gyrokinesis and Pilates had fulfilled me with amazing joy and peace.
Lately, I’ve been Zooming a lot of virtual Karate practices with some great teachers. It’s not the same as training with partners, but I get to study with people I would have to travel great distances to see and I continue to be pleasantly surprised at what a good tool virtual training can be.
Actually I have been exploring dance movement/technique from Yin Yue on her social media, Instagram Channel. She is a dancer/choreographer based in NYC. I haven’t had a chance to take her virtual class quite yet, but am grateful for her sharing opportunities and outlets via social media the way she does. It has been nice to turn my analytical brain off, just follow and move. What she teaches has such a rooting and meditative quality of movement but also incorporates dancer needs in the conditioning. It’s been quite a pillar for me during the quarantine. She teaches something called FoCo technique and here is her website in case the movement moves you as well and want to check it out:) https://www.yydancecompany.com/
Learn more about our virtual and in-studio virtual offerings here. We’d love to work with you to help you maintain wellness during these uncertain times.